The anticipation for this year’s Google I/O has been pretty incredible. With rumors of a new version of Android, new devices in no short supply, the keynote today wasn’t exactly what we were expecting. It’s clear that this year’s focus was clearly on software and services. And we got a lot of them.
For the past few years, the Google I/O keynote has been rather consumer focused, even though this is no doubt a developer’s conference. The Nexus 7, Google TV, and Nexus Q all debuted at the I/O conferences in previous years, but Google decided to keep its keynote this year very developer focused. We can’t really blame them, either. There were so many announcements spanning many different Google services this year, it was a bit of a head spin.
Given that we’re obsessed with mobile, some of us were a bit bummed out with the lack of hardware and updates to seemingly languishing services, like Google TV.
Here’s what the IntoMobile team had to say:
It’s a bit hard to say I wasn’t just a little disappointed that Android didn’t have a greater focus this year at the keynote. That said, I really enjoy Android 4.2.2 on my Nexus 4 and I don’t see it needing much of an update, especially if it’s just one more version that most manufacturers will be behind on. The “Nexus Experience” Samsung 4 was a nice surprise, and I wish that Google would work with manufacturers to provide flagships handsets with a similar treatment. The idea of a “Nexus Experience” almost makes me pee a little.
What I was most excited about was the potential of a Google TV update. After remaining silent about GTV last year, we were pretty sure that Google would unveil a nice software update or new hardware for TV, but there was no mention of the service. Then again, there are two more days to Google I/O and anything could happen. If an announcement for Google TV is made within the next few days, I’m really wishing for some Google Play Games integration and a higher base version of Android running the show.
Overall, the keynote was aimed at exactly who it should have been for: The developers. That’s certainly not a bad thing and Google has unleashed quite a few new tools for developers to take advantage of.
Unlike previous years, Google used this year’s I/O to unveil developer centric products and to introduce improvements to its software platform. Hardware was almost nonexistent — we didn’t see a new Nexus device or new tablets. Also notably absent was any announcement about Google TV.
For developers, Android is a bit more attractive now that there’s Android Studio and support for beta testing in the development platform. For consumers, the changes that Google did introduce to products like Maps and Google Now were pretty significant. I won’t rehash them here, but I will say that the changes set a new bar that may be difficult for competitors to meet. Google+ also got a boost and Google Music is intriguing, but these two services are not yet market leaders. The take home message — it’s clear that Google is a technology leader, and this I/O conference only helps to solidify its position.
The Google I/O 2013 keynote was a weird mix of interesting, boring, and incredibly tedious. The highlights of the day for me were definitely the revamped Google Maps (the mobile app and for desktop) and the standalone Hangouts app.
Hangouts is the first major solution to multi-party video chat that works well and is totally free. I’ve been excited about it from day one, but thought its restrictive home on Google+ was bringing it down. Google Maps, on the other hand, has become an excellent competitor to the likes of Foursquare with today’s news. Plus, Google clearly knows what it’s talking about when it comes to maps.
I’m disappointed more of the news wasn’t dedicated to Android or Google TV as many had anticipated. At least 50 percent or more of the keynote just flat-out wasn’t interesting to me. Many of the announcements were very minor, and certainly not worthy of taking up time in a 211-minute presentation. It’s apparent that Google is innovating, but I’m not sure if all of it is the innovation people wanted.
This year’s keynote went down the way I expected, but with a slight twist. I originally thought that the Google would take the safe and predictable route when it came to hardware. However, aside from the Samsung Galaxy S 4 Google Edition (which is awesome), we heard nothing else in regards to hardware — no Glass, Nexus 4, or Nexus 7. Most of the industry expected to see reboots of all the current Nexus devices.
I did nail one thing, though, but it was presented kind of half-assed by Google. The long rumored Google “all-in-one” messaging service that was originally rumored to dawn the Google Babel name, ended up being a stand alone Hangouts app. It was not done the way I wished it would have been; we didn’t get the total integration of ALL Google’s messaging services: Voice, Talk, Hangouts, etc. Instead, what we got was a renamed GTalk app with tighter Google+ integration. An app that could tie into SMS would have been better.
All in all, it was an okay event. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either. It was in between. Google definitely needs to consider shortening the keynote; come on, three hours?!
This was my first Google I/O, and I was very excited to see what Google had to offer this year. All of the rumors were suggesting some pretty exciting things: a new version of Android, 4.3; a revamped Nexus 4; and a Samsung Galaxy S4 with stock Android. While the Google Galaxy S4 was indeed a reality, we saw hide nor hair of a new version of Android 4.3 or an update to Google TV. The claims of the keynote being focused more on developers were a reality however, which for me (and most viewers) seemed a little underwhelming.
The one thing that I did enjoy was Google’s new Music All Access feature, which will take on the likes of Spotify and Rdio in the streaming music arena, and Pandora in the realm of finding new music for users. Google’s Hangouts (previously rumored as Babel) is also very interesting, but something I probably won’t use much. The search features really caught my attention though, as it seems that Google has finally made the Star Trek computer a reality. Google Now has been around for a while, but the speed and accuracy of the new improvements blew me away.
Yes, the three-hour keynote was a bit long (especially considering the amount of coffee I drank) and Larry Page’s Q&A session, while a good idea, seemed to drag on forever. Overall, the keynote was a bit underwhelming, but enjoyable nonetheless. Even though there were no big hardware announcements, it is clear that Google is focusing more on software developments and strengthening its already amazing relationship with developers.
This year’s Google I/O Keynote was a mixed bag. Some incredible things were revealed, and we’d expect nothing less from Google. But there were some surprising omissions as well. No device revamps, no Google TV, no mention of the future of Glass (Larry Page even avoided Glass-related questions during his post keynote Q&A). At times it seemed a little thin. But for everything that seemed to be missing, Google had another exciting innovation to present. Major upgrades to Google Plus, Maps and Photos were all very impressive and the new voice searching looks leap years above anything else.
Personally, I’m most excited about Google Play Game Services, even if it didn’t have the wow factor of some of the announcements. The interface looks good, it should function well (despite a classic demo fail!), and it allows for the achievements and leaderboards that console gamers are used to. Most importantly, the multiplayer matching looks great. This is going to take Android gaming to a new level, and bring in more hardcore gamers!
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