(Image: Associated Press)
Google kicked off its annual Google I/O developers conference with an epic keynote this morning. Packed into the presentation, hosted by Google Senior VP Sundar Pichai, were announcements about Android, Chrome, wearables, automotive integration, Google TV, and several other topics. Here’s what we learned.
Android gets deep
Google is eschewing the “flat” design that Apple is now championing. The next version of Android, called so far the “L” release (maybe for Lollipop) will feature something called “material design,” in which user interface items will have a height coordinate as well as X and Y positions. The interface will use this data to determine how items will slide over and under one another.
A slide from Google I/O shows actionable notifications on the lock screen. (BGR)
Another part of the material design will be a focus on animations for the UI elements. Google spokespeople were proud to show items moving and sliding at “60 frames per second.” The interface isn’t exactly skeuomorphic — items on the screen don’t look like their physical analogs — but interface elements do appear to ape physical properties.
Android is also spreading out into the world, with the release of the Android One hardware reference platform and operating system. It’s a design that should let developing economies build inexpensive Android phones. It’s rolling out first in India.
Read: Google Announces Two New Directions for Android
Android on your wrist
Google is telling us more about Android Wear, the operating system for wearables (watches). The platform links smartphones to watches to allow the wrist-based computers to display notifications and control the phones when appropriate. Of course, Android Wear also supports the collection of fitness and health data from sensors on watches.
In this demo at Google I/O, the LG G watch, on the right, is controlling the display of an Android phone. (Yahoo Tech)
Read: Google Shows Off Smartwatch Operating System
Is Glass being replaced by Cardboard?
Speaking of alerts, Google Glass was a no-show at the Google I/O keynote, but at the end of the presentation, we were told about a side engineering product called “Cardboard,” which appears to be a silly little exercise by a few engineers that consists of a foldable, cardboard, two-lens goggle system into which you can insert your phone for a ghetto Oculus VR experience. Yes, really.
Yahoo Tech writer Rob Pegoraro. (Rafe Needleman/Yahoo Tech)
Cardboard does look like the ultra-cheap version of Google’s Project Tango, an effort to build virtual reality capabilities into Android itself.
Android in your living room
Google is again pushing its technology onto the big screen. Its Android TV platform (it can run on a TV or on Google’s own set-top box) will let you play items from the Google Play store, or receive streams (or “casts”) from your Android devices. Android TV includes all the Chromecast features and then some.
Google will also now let you cast anything your Android device can display onto an Android TV or a Chromecast device.
Android in your car
While Google did not discuss its self-driving car projects at Google I/O, it did announce Android Auto, a system that allows developers to make their apps car-friendly. Google also showed off an impressive roster of automakers that will be supporting Android Auto. The first cars will be rolling off the line this year, we heard.
Android in your Chromebook
Google’s laptop project, the Chromebook, is getting its own dose of Android: An update will allow a limited number of Android apps to work on the Chrome OS, which will be nice if you want to use a better keyboard when working with a mobile app.
The Android app Vine running on a Chromebook. (Yahoo Tech)
Google I/O is a big, two-day conference. Most of the attendees are developers and engineers working on projects that interact with the world of Google in one way or another. There will be more interesting projects and news bits to cover from this conference, and we’ll be reporting on them. See all of Yahoo Tech’s Google coverage.