A lot of cool stuff came out of Google I/O last week. Let’s take a quick look at some of them in this sweet two-part series.
Google I/O is Google’s big annual developer bash. Like Microsoft Build and Apple’s WWDC, Google I/O is designed to showcase Google’s latest goodies and achievements. The idea is to attract new developers to use the new features and functionality that will in turn attract more consumer and enterprise customers to the Google side of the mobile world.
This year, Google rolled out a number of new developments in both the desktop and mobile platform spaces. Over the next couple of days, I’m going to highlight some interesting developments from both areas and try to show you where you might find value for yourself. Today, we’re going to concentrate on mobile.
Galaxy S4 with Stock Android
Google has chosen the latest Samsun Galaxy S phone, as its Nexus phone and will offer a version of the S4 with a vanilla version of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. The phone is scheduled to cost a steep $649 for an unlocked version of the device which should work on any GSM carrier.
Enhanced Google Maps
Google Maps has pretty much set the standard for a maps on demand GPS solution, at least in the Android part of the world. If you have an Android device, you have Google Maps; and as long as you live in an area with decent cell coverage, there’s no need to look for or use any other navigation solution.
As part of I/O, Google announced that it will be rolling out updates to maps that make searching larger maps more personal. Using technology that powers Google Now, Maps learns what your searching for and future results will get better the more it’s used.
Most people use point and shoot cameras to take digital photos vs. those that use DSLR’s. Most of those point and shoot cameras are actually cellphones. Digital camera technology has come a long way in the past few years with many cellphone camera specs rivaling those of dedicated point and shoot models. Your cellphone is most always with you , too.
Google is introducing Auto Enhance, a tool that offers users a way to improve brightness, contrast, saturation, structure, noise, focus and a number of other photo attributes automatically. The tool allows you to upload photos and to open a light box to see what Google improved for you.
Google+ Hangouts App
Google+ Hangouts offer members a virtual gathering place where they can chat, discuss and congregate with other members. Hangouts are often used for podcasting and live shows, sharing files and photos; but are also used for collaborative work.
Google has announced the release of a standalone application for Hangouts that works across Android, iOS and the desktop. Gmail users can now replace GChat with Hangouts. All they have to do is click the “Try it out” link on their chat lists.
Google+ is the Google’s contribution to social networking; and its recently been updated with 41 new features, including design elements, updates to Hangouts, photo editing tools, additional storage, etc. While I’m certain that the Google+ mobile app has been updated, you can best see all of the design changes and feature editions on the desktop. If you haven’t seen Google+ lately, you need to check it out.
The one big disappointment out of the Google I/O keynote was the lack of a new Android OS or Chrome OS announcement. Perhaps Google is taking the time to delay a new version of either OS to address fragmentation and symmetry issues. This would be a GREAT idea in my opinion. The many different flavors of Android available and in use today are issues that Google needs to address.
At some point, Google will want to retire some versions and insure that those that can update do. This is going to be challenging, though, as many mobile carriers have control of what’s updated on what devices on their networks.