Heading into Mountain View’s biggest conference of the year, Sundar Pichai, head of Android at Google, warned the public the annual keynote would focus on developers rather than consumers. Whilst true, there is plenty coming this year for both sides to enjoy.
Vic Gundotra opened the conference saying: “We hope that the things you see at this conference will continue to inspire you and we will continue to earn your trust.”
Trust in services is important to gain hearts and minds of individuals; Google’s mantra of “Don’t be evil” was recently criticised by the company’s very own former CEO, Eric Schmidt.
Google as a services company offers its products across platforms (sometimes better on others) which can appear to the average consumer as more “kind” than Apple, which of course only offer services for its own devices.
But being primarily seen as a “search company” can damage trust; users will be under the impression they are tracked in order to be delivered advertising. Google holds plenty of information to deliver services, but is open with everything it holds about you, unlike the majority of companies.
The “ecosystem” is what holds customers, which nemesis Apple knows very well. With Google’s latest I/O announcements the ecosystem is tighter than ever.
Most important, I think, is Google+. The social network holds most of the upcoming services together; along with its 359 million active users, according to GlobalWebIndex
Once again a complete redesign of the network was placed in effect, with the home screen of posts now reminiscent of the “Cards” found in ‘Google Now’. The UX is very animation-heavy, very slick, but seems to give more problems on browsers in my experience than the previous iteration.
The service gained impressive photo features which 500px and Flickr should pay attention to; now offering incredible auto-enhancing across everything uploaded if chosen, in the cloud, saving users the time-intensive task of editing each manually in Lightroom beforehand.
Soon as they are uploaded to Google’s mighty servers, they are automatically sorted and tagged through detection of aspects like; landscape photos, or of people smiling.
Generally photo-hosting social networks including Facebook and Twitter (who were used in examples on-stage) compress and downscale your proud photographic work, even if it is just your cat in a hilarious position.
Next up to show-off its Google+ integration is ‘Play Games’, as I’d predicted a few days ago is cross-platform with support for Android, iOS, and Web; allowing for multiplayer gaming, cloud saves, achievements, and leaderboard functionalities.
Where do you pick up these games? The ‘Play Store’, which finally has category specific for tablet apps, along with improved recommendations.
Music is a huge part of many people’s lives. Every day I’m discovering new music through Spotify, now Google wants to place its search and recommendation algorithms into (hopefully) providing a better experience.
‘Play Music’ differs from the competition in that you can upload tracks which aren’t already in Google’s vast library to your collection, and stream (or download for offline!) them anywhere.
One of the most impressive things in terms of potential I’ve witnessed in recent tech history is Google Now. It’s not your usual voice assistant, but something which uses your own search history to predict the information you want, when you want it.
Now also arriving on Web, along with “no interface” activation through saying “okay Google” (preparing for Glass much?), you can use natural language to say things demoed like “show me my photos from New York last year” and more jaw-dropping say out-of-context things including “when does my flight leave?” which will give you a result based on a previously searched flight.
It’s services like these from Google that learn how to serve you best through using the services across whatever any platforms; which makes users want to stay in their ecosystem.
Were you impressed by the new services offered by Google at I/O? How do they place against rivals? Did you feel any disappointment in no new Android release?