Google I/O 2014, the short version

Android TV interface
Android TV is Google's latest attempt to invade the front room

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27 June 2014 | 0

Niall Kitson portraitGoogle’s I/O developer conference this week didn’t have a kill shot of a huge product launch or a headline product being discontinued (though it may as well have as we’ll see later). Instead of the future, Google showed an enhanced present with a design refresh and plans for wearables and the front room. There were also plenty of absentees to mull over.

Android

There was news about Google’s moves into analytics and improvements to enterprise services the focus was on Android and its applications beyond the handset. As we’ll cover below there are plenty of forks to deal with but the centrepiece Android L (possibly for Lollipop) will be tying them together.

Aesthetically, Android L goes beyond focusing on aesthetics of icons to look at navigation of menus in 3D using variations in light and shade to create layered effects, essentially making some icons look like they’re floating above others to give them more prominence without increasing their size. This ‘material design’ also focuses on clean-looking interfaces, bold colours and shadows.

Notifications can be accessed or dismissed directly from the lock screen and ‘personal unlocking’ that detects when the user is around and bypasses the unlock code for them.

In-car

Google announced the Open Automotive Alliance last January at CES with the backing of Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai and Nvidia. At I/O we got a glimpse of what Android will look like in the front seat along with a promise of the first Android Auto cars to appear in the US by the end of the year.

As expected, Android Auto requires a compatible smartphone to provide Internet connectivity. Usability is to the fore, with larger screens making it easier to access apps, check directions on Google Maps or manage media.

The more impressive elements of Android Auto are the inclusion of voice search and ‘cards’ – as seen in the Google Now personal assistant – displaying contextual information for tracking your driving habits and points of interest around you. More impressive, Android Auto can recognise when you’re on your morning commute, notify you of issues ahead and even suggest alternate routes, saving you time.

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