Google IO Highlights

Matias Pan and Carlos Sessa, two mobile developers from the R/GA Buenos Aires offices traveled to San Francisco and attended Google IO, Google’s annual developer conference.

We would like to introduce you to some of the ideas and concepts we listened to at Google IO, so let’s get started.

Android Momentum
The main keynote started with some Android stats. It can be summarize with:

  • 100 millon active android devices.
  • 400 thousand activations per day.
  • 146 millon activations per year.
  • 246 millon activations for 2012.
  • 200 thousand apps in the Market.
  • 4.500 millon apps downloaded.
  • 310 different devices en different countries.

Google is expecting to more than double the amount of active Android devices. Will this be possible? Totally. Remember that Android is now running in cellphones, tablets, televisions and with the new Chromebooks, running Android in x86 seems the next step.

Android 3.1 Highlights
Android 3.1 was also unveiled for the first time, including these new features:

  • Open Accessory API for rich interaction with peripherals
  • USB host API
  • Input from mice, joysticks, and gamepads
  • Resizable Home screen widgets
  • MTP API for integrating with external cameras
  • RTP API, for control over audio streaming sessions

Basically, Android 3.1 is about Android getting connected to other peripherals/gadgets. Imagine yourself being able to control your oven or your washing machine from your phone. Or better yet, being able to control these machines with your voice! Android 3.1 is going to make this possible.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich
There are few words that describes Ice Cream sandwich (ICS): “One OS for every device”. While Honeycomb is just for tablets, ICS will gather everyone together. Targeting a single SDK will definitely feel strange but tempting. On the other hand it will have OpenGL headtracking built in. The first application of this technology that comes into our mind is raising the volume of a conversation when the person is no longer near the screen. ICS will be presented during the last trimester of 2011, so we will have to wait.

Conclusion
Android improvements during IO were great. Connecting whatever we want to our Android device has opened a wide variety of paths to explore, and our key takeaway is that more than ever, good user interaction is going to be critical to the success of these new Android apps. Android was almost a touch-only OS but with the introduction of newer devices this is no longer true. For example, Google TV is controlled by a mouse pointer, but it feels like a prehistoric way of interaction. It’s going to require lots of experimenting to get it right, but we’re looking forward to exploring the new possibilities.