You never know what to really expect from Google when their annual I/O event swings by. Compared to other companies they do a fairly good job at keeping things under wraps, apart from the odd leak here and there, and once again they’ve managed to surprise us all with some of the things announced at Google I/O 2014.
Okay, so there wasn’t an official name given to the latest Android update yet, but instead Google teased us with Android L. The new update looks great and there’s a real initiative to bring all aspects of the Android ecosystem together through it. There’s some great new additions to how your phone interacts with notifications and the overall design has been revamped and polished.
We’ve put together a complete guide to Android L here.
Arguably the best thing to come out of last night’s event was the latest developments in Android Wear. For those unaware, Wear is an alternate OS that works with Android wearables. Google showed off both the LG G Watch and Samsung Galaxy Gear Live (release date details here) and we even got a small glimpse at the Moto 360. From what we saw, Android Wear seems to be a great way of bring together your phone and wearable together by sharing notifications, using voice searches and a series of unique gestures. Users can even unlock their smartphone using their smartwatch; a small but welcome addition.
Google are trying to put the problems they faced with previous TV ventures behind them with the release of Android TV. The new set top box will work with a wide range of HD TVs, with Sony and Sharp already producing new TV sets that will be Android TV compatible next year. The interface is designed as the one-stop shop for all your media needs, pulling together movies, music and even mobile games in one place. We’ve put together a quick look at Android TV here.
One area that we were especially happy to see Google taking a real interest in this year was focusing in on emerging markets. Android One is a new project that looks to to offer smartphones to the millions of people who necessarily wouldn’t have access to them otherwise. The phone’s will run stock Android and still get updated regularly. Although the project is starting in India later this year, Google plans to spread it globally by the end of next year. If you want to find out more about Android One, then take a look here.
Chromecast, Chrome and more
Google’s TV stick, Chromecast, has been selling very well since its launch last year; so much so that owners will have the chance to try out some new features soon. For one, users will now be able to mirror tabbed content from their phone on to Chromecast and even share content without being on the same Wi-Fi network. There’s also the addition of Backdrop, a cascade of images and photos that work in the same vein as a desktop wallpaper when your device isn’t in use.
Certain Android apps will now work on Chromebooks and Google displayed the functionality of both Evernote and Vine at last night’s event. Google has stressed that it’s still a feature new to many of their developers, so it could be sometime before we see a wealth of Android apps hit Chrome OS.
For tutorials on your favourite apps and news on the latest Android projects, make sure to check out the latest issue of Android Magazine.