SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google's sixth annual conference for software developers opened Wednesday with a chance for the company to showcase the latest mobile devices running its Android software, while also unveiling other features in its evolving product line-up.
The audience of about 6,000 people at "Google I/O" includes engineers and entrepreneurs who develop applications and other features that can make smartphones and tablets more appealing. Reporters from around the world also will be on hand, giving Google a chance to generate more hoopla about its latest innovations.
Android already has been activated on 900 million devices made by Samsung Electronics Co., HTC Corp. and other manufacturers. Android devices are the chief rivals to Apple's iPhones and iPads. Android has helped Google make more money because its search engine and other services, including maps, are usually built into the devices. That tie-in drives more visitors to Google and gives the Mountain View, Calif., company more opportunities to sell ads.
Much of the speculation about the conference has centered on a possible upgrade to the Nexus 7, a mini-tablet that debuted at last year's event. There's also speculation that Google will unveil a music-streaming service that would allow Android users to listen to their favorite songs and artists for a monthly fee.
Google also may provide more insights into the popularity of Google Plus, a social networking alternative to Facebook that launched nearly two years ago. In an attempt persuade more people to use Google Plus more frequently, Google has promised to keep adding tools that aren't available on Facebook.
Google's conference was being held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.
The keynote kicked off at about 9 a.m. PDT and was expected to last nearly three hours. The conference goes through Friday.
Here's a running account of the event, presented in reverse chronological order. All times are PDT. Presenters include Vic Gundotra, Google's senior vice president for engineering; Sundar Pichai, the head of Google's senior vice president for apps and the Chrome operating system for laptops; and Hugo Barra, vice president for product management at Android.
Google introduces a technology for syncing notifications on different devices. The idea is when you dismiss a notification about a new Facebook message, for instance, it wouldn't reappear when you check your tablet.
Google also unveils new gaming tools. You can save where you are in a game and pick up on another device. You can also see how you rank on new leaderboards. This appears similar to what Apple offers on iPhones and iPads through its Game Center. Getting into gaming gives Google an opportunity to participate in one of the most popular activities on mobile devices.
Barra introduces a few tools for software developers to incorporate into their apps. One allows apps to track what users are doing, such as walking. It may appear creepy to users, but Barra says the tools will allow developers to create "a whole new category of awesome apps."
Pichai talks about Google having two large, fast-growing platforms: Android for smartphones and tablets and Chrome for laptops.
He says Android has grown from being on 100 million devices in 2011, 400 million in 2012 to 900 million now. He calls the growth "extraordinary." He suggests there's still room for growth with 7 billion people in the world.
After a brief multimedia presentation, Gundotra appears on stage to open the conference.