Last week Google held its I/O Developer’s Conference and announced loads of new tech that will become a reality by the end of the year. What may seem futuristic now will probably be taken for granted by the time next year’s I/O Conference comes around.
The new tech from Google will affect our daily lives, how we interact with our phones, cars, TV’s, and watches. As much as tech has infiltrated our routines during the past decade (when was the last time you looked at a paper map?), the changes in our near future will be coming faster, making the impact of technology more apparent in our lives.
Here are some of the highlights of Google’s announcements last week, showing you what to expect for the future of tech. For Google, “future” means by the end of 2014.
Android 5.0 L
Google announced a significant update to its Android mobile operating system that will take it well beyond phones and tablets. This platform will be used much more broadly and have greater capabilities than ever before.
Indicating the power of this Android update, Google abandoned its previous method of naming Android updates after desserts such as froyo, gingerbread and KitKat. Rather than calling this Android 5.0 update Laffy Taffy, Google is simply naming this update Android L. With all of the promise this version holds, a non-dessert name suits it best.
Android L enables developers to give the appearance of depth with a feature Google calls Material Design. Displays can have shadows, ripple effects and dimension which can adapt to different screen sizes.
Notifications on Android phones will appear on the lock screen and you’ll be able to act on them without unlocking the phone. Similarly, notifications can appear within apps and you’ll be able to act on them without leaving the app you have open.
Android will show you how much battery power each of your apps have been using with a new feature called Battery Historian. Google said that this can save users up to 90% of battery life.
If you’re not a fan of passwords, you’ll like the new unlocking features of Android L. You can designate “safety zones”, such as work or home, where you don’t need to have your phone locked. When you’re in those zones you won’t have to enter a password to unlock your phone.
Phones can also detect when an Android wearable is within range and can be programmed to require a password only when the wearable is out of range.
Android L will feature better security with malware protection, security patches and factory reset options.
More Information about Android L
For a more thorough discussion of changes coming to Android L, see XDA Developers A Closer Look at the User Interface Changes in Android L.
Google also announced Android Wear, a platform for smartwatches that makes them much more powerful, functional and interactive. Samsung, LG and Motorola all have built watches using Android Wear so you’ll have a choice if you want to sport an Android Wear watch on your wrist.
Android Wear offers developers many options to improve both the appearance and functionality of wearables. The screen can be round, square or rectangular. You’ll be able to use voice and touch screen commands to operate apps. Notifications will alert you via vibrations and on-screen messages.
You can use your watch to control not only the watch itself but also your phone, car, TV and other third party devices such as a sound system. You’ll be able to decline calls, see who’s calling, put your phone into a do not disturb mode.
Your Android Wear watch can conduct Google searches, set calendar appointments, make restaurant reservations, order a pizza, and pay for it. You’ll be able to monitor your fitness data, such as heart rate and step count, which can be displayed on the watch face and your phone.
Users can measure their fitness through Android Wear and then see the big picture of their health with Google Fit. This feature will combine the data from various apps, such as heart rate, steps taken and blood sugar level to give you an overall health and fitness assessment.
The next time you’re shopping for a new car you may ask the dealer not only about fuel economy, performance and standard features. You’ll also want to know which phone the car is compatible with: Android or iPhone?
Android Auto is a powerful platform that uses apps from your phone on your car. You can use your voice and your car’s controls to interact with the apps from your phone displayed on your dashboard. The car’s display will mirror the display on your phone’s screen so you can control music, navigation and communication apps.
No longer do you have to worry about outdated maps in your car’s GPS unit. With Android Auto Google Maps will be displayed, giving you turn-by-turn navigation, Google Earth, Google Street View, Live Traffic, all with current information. Being a search engine comes in handy as Google can look up locations and guide you there without you ever having to type in an address.
→ See, Google Maps Traffic – The Answer to Your Traffic Nightmares for more information about Google Traffic.
Google has joined with the Open Automotive Alliance, a partnership with over 40 vehicle manufacturers to begin bringing Android Auto to cars by the end of 2014.
Your TV will become another screen connected to your phone with the launch of Android TV. With Android TV you can play games, interact with apps and control your TV from your Android Wear watch. You can use Voice Search to find videos for viewing from sources such as Netflix or Google Play, and get more information about what you’re watching.
Android TV launches in the fall built into certain television sets from Sony, Sharp and TP Vision, and by the end of the year as a stand-alone box from manufacturers such as Asus and Razer.
Chromebooks have become extremely popular, holding all of the top 10 highest rated slots in Amazon’s computer list, according to Google. Apps will be available on Chromebooks so you will be able to use the mobile versions of services such as Evernote and Vine.
Your Android phone will connect to your Chromebook so your Chromebook can unlock if your phone is nearby and unlocked. You’ll be able to get notifications of phone calls and read text messages on your Chromebook through your Android phone and get a notification when your phone’s battery is running low.
Google will be launching a low-cost Android phone this fall called Android One. For $99 you’ll get a phone with a 4.5″ screen, two SIM cards, and an SD card for expandable storage. The phone will begin shipping this fall.
More Information about Google’s I/O Conference
If you want to learn more about what was announced last week from Google during the conference, check out the 2 1/2 hour keynote address that covered these tech topics and much more:
Which announcement from Google was the most exciting to you? Do you like the idea of your TV, computer, watch and car being connected to your phone? Would you choose a car based on your phone? Would you choose a phone based on your car? Let us know in the Comments section below!