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Google I/O Day 1: the Highlights

06.28.2012
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This blog post describes the highlights of the keynote of the first day of the Google I/O conference [1]. It does so from the vantage point of a developer and Apple user, so don’t be surprised to see developer information and comparisons with Apple.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

  • Project Butter: is about making the user experience “Faster, Smoother, More Responsive”. The entire Android framework now operates at 60 frames per second, adds triple buffering in the graphics pipeline, etc. Apple has long obsessed over UI responsiveness and Google seems to agree with them now.
  • Offline voice typing. Impressive. iOS still needs to be connected to do this.
  • New accessibility features for visually-impaired users.
  • Support for photo/video sharing via NFC. NFC is slowly becoming more popular. Apple does not support it yet, but probably will soon [2].
  • Search: now integrated with their Knowledge Graph. Can be triggered by speech, will speak answers back to you. Makes sense. Search is Google’s undisputed strength and they leverage it for Android.
  • Google Now: provides contextual information such as:
    • public transport schedules (context: location)
    • places of interest in your proximity (context: location)
    • upcoming flights (context: person)
    • scores of favorite sports teams (context: person)
    Nice idea. Aggregated information streams.
  • Google Cloud Messaging for Android (replaces the previous Android Cloud to Device Messaging Framework):

    Google Cloud Messaging for Android (GCM) is a service that helps developers send data from servers to their Android applications on Android devices. This could be a lightweight message telling the Android application that there is new data to be fetched from the server (for instance, a movie uploaded by a friend), or it could be a message containing up to 4kb of payload data (so apps like instant messaging can consume the message directly). The GCM service handles all aspects of queueing of messages and delivery to the target Android application running on the target device.
  • The Google Maps app has an offline mode. Great.

Google+

  • Google Hangout available via apps on Android and iOS. Useful for businesses. For one-on-one conversations, I don’t like video. I have yet to try a group conversation, but would also expect the video to be distracting.
  • Google+ Events. Similar to what Facebook already offers, with a few interesting ideas such as a “party mode” where invitees can automatically upload pictures they take to the event page.

Hardware

Nexus 7 tablet:
  • 7" display, 1280×800 pixels at 216 ppi. Compare:
    • 720p video: 1280×720
    • New iPad: 9.7" display, 2048×1536 pixels at 264 ppi.
    • Old iPad: 9.7" display, 1024×768 pixels at 132 ppi.
  • Android 4.1
  • Tegra 3 with a quad-core CPU and a 12-core GPU. Seems quite powerful, looking forward to benchmarks comparing it with the iPad.
  • 1.2MP front-facing camera
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
  • Battery: 4.325 watt-hours (“up to 8 hours of active use”). Compare – iPad: 42.5 watt-hours (“up to 10 hours of active use”).
  • Weight: 340g. Compare – iPad: 652 g (Wi-Fi-only) and 662 g (Wi-Fi+cellular)
  • Size: 198.5 × 120 × 10.45mm. Compare – iPad: 241.2 mm × 185.7 mm × 9.4 mm. Hence, the Nexus 7 will look comparatively thick. Should Apple ever decide to offer a 7" iPad [3], it’ll be interesting to see how thin they can make it.
  • Price: $199, including a $25 Google Play credit. Good price for a capable device, the Google Play credit is a nice touch.
Nexus Q, a “social streaming media player”:
  • Use NFC and Bluetooth for setup (e.g. via an Android phone)
  • Stream music and video from: Google Play, Android device. Social feature: Every user in a room can stream their content.
  • Runs Android 4
  • Memory: 1GB RAM, 16GB flash memory
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth, NFC
  • Ports: Micro HDMI, Optical audio, 10/100BASE-T Ethernet, Micro USB (for service and support), Banana jack speaker outputs
  • Supposedly “hackable”, which sounds intriguing.
  • Price: $299
Project Glass: I’m still not completely sold on the idea.
  • Social to the extreme. Record everything you are doing. Possibly useful for reporters.
  • Designed to be light, otherwise it wouldn’t be wearable.
  • A device that is always aware of your surroundings and could use that to provide even more context information to search and Google Now (“What book am I currently looking at?”).
  • At the moment mostly interesting for developers.
  • Available for preorder: $1500.

More information

  1. Ars Technica liveblog of the keynote
  2. The iPhone 5 to support NFC?
  3. Arguments in favor or the “iPad mini”
Published at DZone with permission of Axel Rauschmayer, author and DZone MVB. (source)

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