I just walked out of the Keynote, and it was extremely exciting with many great announcements. The event began at 7am this morning with crowds lined up around the Moscone Centre very much like my experience at Apple WWDC. After a quick breakfast provided by Google, Dwayne and I joined the line inside with much anticipation.
The keynote was packed and opened with a talk from Vic Gundotra who heads up Engineering at Google. His team announced the latest stats, 400 Million Android activations, 20 Billion App installs and huge growth in adoption of developing nations on Android.
Next was the official launch of the new Android OS, Jellybean. The first enhancement was in the form of Project Butter. An update which allows for a much smoother experience in Android as many of us know, at times it feels lagged or glitchy. Along side are developer tools to better monitor the GPU and memory for better Apps.
Another great addition is Offline Voice. As we know the Siri technology offered in the Apple suite requires the web, Google have squashed the technology down to fit onto the OS. This also opens up huge advancements in technology for accessibility and users who need to connect with the device with limited vision or hearing.
Photos and NFC
Next up was a new UI for the photos app, and the use of gestures to make the experience of previewing pictures far more streamlined and natural. There is also additional support for Near Field Communication, where in San Fran you can buy a coke from a machine using NFC and Google Wallet.
Also announced was Google Now. Basically a mini UI similar to that of Siri, where when you do a Google Search on the device, you are returned with a card. The card is designed to present the information easily. Some of the demonstration included meetings and directions where the device will know you have a meeting at a different location, calculate traffic and walking times and recommend a time to leave. If you are waiting for a train, it will know what platform and tell you the next train.
The crowd wasn’t so impressed with the consistent sentence used by the presenters “Smarter and more useful the more often you use it”. The Google Now example where a user who often searches for the sports team the Giants, will automatically be presented with Giants scores on Google Now. I don’t think we are comfortable yet knowing that all the data collected could be used in such a subtle way without consent. I do however believe this is the future of search, not having to search at all.
With a huge applause from the crowd they announced a new piece of Google hardware built in partnership with Asus, the Nexus 7. It is a 7 inch tablet (smaller form factor than the iPad) with a 1280×800 screen, quad core processor, 340 grams and 9 hours of HD video playback on the battery. The cost is $199 and comes with a $25 voucher to Google Play.
Codenamed project Tungsten, it is essentially the same as Apple TV, with a striking ball like design and a vivid LED strip around the outside that reacts to activity. Users connect it to the web and to the TV. You control it with your phone/tablet and tell it to play a movie or video. Unlike Apple TV it connects to the web or Google Play to grab the content. This will reduce the slow buffer times over WiFi. The demos were cool but it brought up questions around our b2cloud experience of overshare on the Sonos, and anyone being able to change a playlist (note our disco friday mix).
I zoned out here.
During the Google + talk, Sergey Brin the founder of Google runs on the stage and interrupts Vic. He is wearing a set of Google Glass (which we spotted in the crowd earlier that morning in line). If you don’t know what this is then Google it! We then see on the video live pictures from his friends on a plane above the conference centre, jumping out and landing on the roof. Amazing footage from the first person. Sergey explained the intimacy of the Glasses and how they can capture experiences like never before. We didn’t see anything on the information that the glasses can feedback from the user. In short we witnessed a glamourised version of a Go Pro camera.
The glasses go on sale for developers today, and arrive in Jan 2013. They cost $1500 and are in very early experimental form.
Google are known for giving stuff to developers and this year was no exception. Today Dwayne and I both pick up a brand new Nexus phone, Nexus 7 tablet and a Google Q. Make sure you swing past b2cloud to come and have a play before they hit the market!
I just received an invitation from Vic Gundotra for an event tonight with headline acts Train and Paul Oakenfold. I love nerd events