Google I/O 2012 Announcement Roundup: Hits and Misses
The Google I/O 2012 keynote has come and gone and as the dust settles, it’s time to take a look back at what Google announced.
This year, consumers and attendees and viewers of the Google I/O keynote were treated to a host of announcements about new Google products. On the list are Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Google’s new mobile operating system. The Nexus 7 tablet which is Google’s upcoming slate. The Nexus Q streaming media center. And Google Project Glass which the company will be rolling out to select developers in 2013.
That really only scratches the surface though. There were several other announcements including updates to the Google Play Store, Google+ applications for tablets and the iPad and a new feature called Google+ Events which will help users plan events with a keener eye.
So, as we wind down day one of the Google I/O conference in San Francisco, we wanted to take a quick look at the hits and misses of this year’s Google I/O 2012 keynote.
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
As expected, Google announced the next iteration of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. It will replace Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich as the most current Android operating system when it arrives sometime in July.
The software features several upgrades which include better Voice Search, re-sizable widgets, customization Notifications, and a feature called Google Now which learns from users search queries and spits out useful information in return.
All in all, it looks like a solid update for Android users.
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
Google has decided to launch a new version of Android before many current Android devices receive Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Google’s now previous generation operating system.
The company hopes that the introduction of a new Android PDK, which we’ll touch on in a second, will help smooth over the upgrade process but at this point, it seems that the Android upgrade process just got even more complicated than it already was.
Google Project Glass Demo
Sergey Brin interrupted the Google I/O keynote to show the power of Google Project Glass, Google’s ambitious augmented reality glasses. In a rather absurd demo, Brin communicated with skydivers flying above the Moscone Center using the glasses and Google+ Hangouts.
The skydivers then took a dive out of the plane and the audience got a taste of the descent through the glasses. They then landed right on Moscone Center itself.
That wasn’t it either. BMX riders wearing glasses showed off their point of view while a guy scaling the building showed off what it might be like to be Spider-Man. All in all, it was a pretty neat demo and a sign of awesome things to come.
Google Project Glass Release Date
Google’s Co-CEO also announced something called Google Project Glass Explorer Edition which is a costly developer program that will allow Google to test out Project Glass before it arrives on shelves for consumers.
That’s fantastic, even if it’s $1500 to try it out.
The hard part to swallow for consumers is that the glasses definitely won’t be on shelves in 2012 and they may not even reach the general populous in 2013 either. Brin said that the Google Project Glass Explorer Edition would likely start shipping in 2013 although he gave out no firm date.
Google+ app for iPad and Android tablets
The company spent a lot of the Google I/O keynote talking about its social networking platform, Google+. The highlight of the Google+ announcements was the arrival of a dedicated Google+ application for both Android tablet owners and iPad owners.
This will allow users of the iPad to video chat using Google+ Hangouts without having to use workarounds.
No Google Drive for iPhone and iPad, No Google TV Announcements
And while Google announced one nice application for Apple hardware, it failed to announce another. Google Drive for iPhone and iPad was said to be 98% done quite awhile ago. This led many to believe that Google might announce something during the keynote.
Sadly, this wasn’t the case and owners of iDevices will have to wait even longer for a dedicated application for Google’s cloud storage service.
In addition, Google failed to announce anything related to Google TV. Google was thought to be rebooting the service at this year’s Google I/O but instead, it left owners of the Google TV devices disappointed.
Freebies for Attendees
Getting a ticket for Google I/O was both costly and difficult but those that were able to scoop up a ticket were rewarded with a bunch of free hardware.
This year’s attendees were given a Samsung Galaxy Nexus HSPA+ with a test version of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on board, a Nexus 7 tablet and a Nexus Q. That’s quite a bit of new hardware and a reason why those who have been on the fence about attending Google I/O should get on the ball next year.
It’s also an extremely nice gesture on Google’s part. After all, this is a developer event and Google wants to keep dev’s happy. Handing them a bunch of free hardware is one way of doing that.
The Nexus Q was one of the surprises of Google I/O 2012. The Google Nexus Q is a “social streaming” device shaped like an orb that connects to the TV and internet giving users access to Google Play Store video and audio content. Android users can plug their device in a blast music and they can control content using their Android tablet or smartphone.
It seemed like it might be a nice little addition to the Android party until Google announced that the device would cost $299 which effectively price out just about everyone interested in buying one.
As we mentioned, Google announced something called the Android APK at this year’s Google I/O. PDK stands for Platform Development Kit. Believe it or not, this was one of the highlights of the entire show.
The PDK is a collection of tools to help manufacturers port Android to their devices. Google will release the PDK to developers a few months before it launches each new version of Android.
Presumably, this will help speed up the time it takes manufacturers and carriers to roll out Android updates to users.
Google I/O Keynote Itself
Yes, Google I/O is a developer event. But, as Google’s Vic Gundotra pointed out, there were plenty of other people watching the event and its announcements too. Average people, non-tech nerds.
Google didn’t do a very good job of speaking to the average user. Project Butter, a major facet of Android 4.1, likely went over people’s heads (Note: Not everyone knows what triple buffering or frame rate or VSync is), as did many of the features of the products that Google announced today.
The tempo of the entire thing was frustrating too. The speakers, who were clearly under a time limit, were talking a mile a minute. Viewers suffered because of it and it’s something that Google needs to work on in future Google I/O keynotes.
Notice anything missing?
Yes, the Nexus 7 tablet isn’t on here. That’s because we’re on the fence about it at the moment. It has a great price point and some likeable features but it also wasn’t mind-blowing.
So, it’s kind of in a gray area at the moment. We’ll let you know if it’s a hit or a miss when we go hands-on.