Through some stroke of fortune, your friendly editor Timothy Lord is at Google I/O watching the keynote. We'll be updating the story live (below the fold) with his updates as they stream in. Starting things off, he reported a few features of Android Jelly Bean. First, graphics will be triple-buffered for extra smoothness; the graphics demo was reportedly impressive enough that the audience swooned. Text input has been improved with new dictionaries and a predictive keyboard that will learn better over time. Additionally, voice typing will now work offline. English will be initially supported, with Farsi, Thai, and Hindi support to follow. Hit the link below to see further updates, including details on the Nexus 7 tablet and the Nexus Q streaming device.
Google Beam: More than a million NFC-enabled devices are out now: In Jellybean, send someone a photo or contact info by tapping phones. Works with big files, too.
Notifications: You can expand and collapse them, they are actionable, and you can get a lot more info directly from notifications than in previous versions. Rather than opening an app from notifications (as from a missed call), you can call right from the notification itself. Similarly, you can read mail (that is, Gmail) right from the notification list. Canned responses to messages are also available directly from notifications. You can see full photos, Foursquare check-ins, etc. Notifications expand as they bubble to the top of the list, but you can also make them expand with a two-finger drag gesture.
Google search: Using Knowledge Graph. The graph allows new "card" answers to Google searches — a bit like "I'm feeling lucky," but with more multimedia right there. Search for 'What movies was Angelina Jolie in,' and you get back a headshot and a filmography.
Voice Search: Quick spoken answers to spoken questions. The demo question was: "Show me pictures of pygmy marmosets." Yep, there are the pictures.
"Google now" (lower case n): "Gets you just the right info at just the right time." It uses things like search, location, and calendar history to figure out what info you might need and when. If you looked for a flight, and it's updated, Google will alert you and show you the new one. It keeps track of your favorite sports teams. (The guy next to me says, "that's scary cool.. and kind of creepy.") Call up public transportation or an upcoming flight and you get details like how long each trip will be and where to transfer. I'm surprised it doesn't tell you which side of the street is shadier to walk on. Google knows now when you're traveling, and tells you, among other things, what time it is back home.
Note for developers: Jelly Bean will start to release to open source in mid-July. Devs can grab the Preview SDK from developer.android.com right now.
Android Engineering director Chis Yerga says Google Play is now up to 600,000 apps and 20 billion downloads Thousands of books and movies, as well as millions of songs. You can store 20,000 tracks for free in your music library. Yerga introduced movie sales, not just rentals. They're also adding TV: buy episodes, or whole seasons — 'perfect for when you're on the bus.' To start, their partners include Disney, NBC, Sony Pics, Paramount, and small ones like Magnolia. There will also be magazines: premium ones (Esquire, Wired) and lots of the pedestrian ones, too.
Brief, but important new features: App encryption (big applause from audience), and smart App updates — only the parts of the APK that update need to be transferred.
What everyone was waiting for: Asus-built Nexus 7, brandished from the stage. It's super thin, light and portable, and has a 1280x800 display. Inside: Tegra 3. Quad-core CPU, 12-core GPU. "That's basically 16 cores, which makes everything, including games, incredibly smooth.' It has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, a gyro, an accelerometer, and up to 9 hours of video playback. It weighs 340 grams — like a paperback book. Fits nicely in one hand.
Mag reader gets you form-factor optimized version of magazines, with various swipe-activated interactive features. There were chuckles from audience on showing the cover of 'Shape' magazine. A bikini picture as a demo of interactive "Premium reading experience" on Google play, available for certain magazines. I'm surprised that was the choice. It seems like the kind of thing women developers might not appreciate, or at least that I'd anticipate would have been nixed based on that presumption.
Google has also added a "what's this song" widget, which leads you to (of course) the store, where you can buy the identified song.
Apps on N7 + Jellybean: The Nexus 7 is the first device that ships with Chrome as a standard browser! YouTube app provides high-def video optimized for the N7. Google Maps: you've got the usual features (public transit, etc.), but also, "learn about a place before you get there." It has pannable 3D images inside places (where they have the footage, of course: it's not complete magic). They demonstrated panning inside a bar. BUG: "Make available offline" in a tappable menu means you don't need a data connection. Google Currents, news reader, etc., now has Google Translate built right in, transparently: choose a new language and see your news in Arabic, say, or any supported language, just like that. Games: They showed an amazing game demo (Horn) with lens flare, environment effects, and individually rendered leaves. Another game has zombies and lots and lots of blood (Dead Trigger). Not for kids, but great graphics.
The Nexus 7 price: They will launch "starting at" $199, including a $25 credit in the Google Play store, and several things as teases, including a Transformers movie and the Bourne Dominion book. It will be available in the U.S., Australia, Canada, and the UK to start, with more countries coming.
Mysterious: Project Tungsten. It involves Android and Google Play — the first consumer product Google has ever built from ground up: The "Nexus Q." Q is a small (tiny!) Android computer, which "connects to all the media you have stored in the cloud." It's designed to plug into the best speakers and TV in your home, and always be connected to the cloud. It pulls content directly from Google Play, and is controlled by (but not streaming through) your phone / tablet as a remote. It's a small black orb; looks like a little Death Star. It'll use an NFC connection to your phone: "This is how you get your software," he said, as the phone leaned against it for a moment.
It runs on the same chip as the Galaxy Nexus. And 25-watt amp built right in (!?). It has optical digital audio and micro HDMI outs, too. Dual-band Wi-fi, ethernet, NFC, BT, and a port to encourage 'general hackability' (which got big applause). It's an odd-looking little thing — you won't be stacking anything on top of it. OK, I am drooling: there's a multi-colored LED-lit line around the equator (imagine Luke diving in with his tiny X-wing) which lights in patterns based on music.
It's a 'social connected device': multiple people controlling it from their own tablets in the same space results in their songs from different devices getting spread. Anyone can move songs around the queue, or control the listening experience. "Pretty cool, my friends can now play their music in my living room." Neat tech, but not the very newest possibility in the world. Slightly more cumbersome possibility it replaces: carrying one's whole movie library around. Basically, you can take over the TV connected to the Nexus Q, in order to stream stuff. It will cost $299. They're taking pre-orders now, and the device will start shipping in mid-July.
Google+: Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of G+. They played a cute video of hangouts, showing live video streaming to group. There's a vibrant community of astronomers, knitters, musicians, etc. 250 million G+ users now, with 50pct daily logins. Users tend to spend more than 12 minutes a day in the stream, up from 9 a few months ago (is that an impressive number?) Google+ is now accessed more from mobile than from desktop. They keep getting the same request from users: "Native tablet version?" That's the big G+ announcement today: native G+ for tablets. Photos, text, video, etc. are stylized slightly differently from each other for easy scanning. Hangout experience is an emphasis, too. Swipe to accept and invite, just like a phone call. Automatic video switching to whoever's talking. Looks slick and sweet. Everything is launching on the iPad, too, "very soon." All the new features also now immediately available for phones. Final note: they're introducing a sort of organization around events. "The substance of a real world event is [now] lost online" -- invites are brittle. Announcement: Google Plus Events, for stuff before, during, after. It includes deep integration with Google Calendar.
Before: Invitation, scheduling, organization. You can choose ready-made, cinematic themes. Eh, that looks sort of weak, but then, people sure bought a lot of trapper keepers in the '80s, and Hallmark is a successful business. During: Streaming, involvement, etc. "Everyone's photos get lost," with typical current mix of devices, systems, etc. But you can enable "party mode," which shares all the photos people are taking, if they've turned it on. Also, a current-photos slideshow. This is also controlled from Notifications — a green icon shows if one has turned on Party mode. OK, this is pretty neat — it beats my long-time idea that weddings should all have stations for dumping pictures from SD cards. After: put all those photos in chronological order: all the pics from all the guests who had party mode on, in one stream. Also, analyze photos, for most engagement or plus-ones, and ones in which you're tagged; can also sort by photographer.
Now Sergey is up on stage for a Google Glass demo...
Sergey is talking with his friend JT — they're live-streaming from about a mile ahead and thousands of feet up. They're in a blimp. They're communicating through a Hangout using Google Glass. He's about to jump with the glasses on . He's wearing a wing suit and has a GoPro camera. They're looking right at Moscone Center. And there they go! They're flying through the air, broadcasting the view live. They're aiming for the Moscone. Since I'm inside a big building, this could all be special effects, and I wouldn't know. And now they've landed on the room. Audience applause is hurting my ears.
And they have bikers up there, to speed them along the roof, also with Glasses. The bikers zoomed along the roof, doing flips, all streamed live. They rappelled down the side of the building to get onto the appropriate floor, then biked right up to the stage. Ludicrous. "Special delivery for Sergey." Now the skydivers and other guys have all reached the stage.
More on Glass: Lots of sensors, networking, location awareness, multiple radios for data communications. The project started 2.5 years ago. They showed a photo of Thad Starner wearing a clunkier version from back then. Now it's more like one side of a pair of fat-framed sunglasses. Lead designer Isabel Olsson (Senior Industrial Designer) talks about it: the display is above the eye; designed to be close to your senses, but not block them. The latest prototype weighs less on the nose than many sunglasses. They showed a few demos: playing tennis, first person service. Jumping into a ball pit. They stressed the importance of scaleable design: put all components to one side, so there can be wide frame compatibility. It looks symmetrically (could be be reversed and put on the other side?), but the demos all seem to show it on the right side (from the user's perspective) of the head.
Aspirations / purposes for Glass:
- Communications, documentation: Sometimes for grand or spectacular purpose (skydivers), but also mundane moments among geo-distant friends (the weather in NY or wherever), a baby growing up, etc.
- Search result medium
- Real-time dashboard (how fast are you going on your bike?)
- Interactive communication -- you're at the market and see something odd, or want to ask your spouse about the product you're supposed to pick up.
They showed a heartwarming demo: it looks like an Apple commerical, which may or may not warm the hearts of the people who made it. Sergey talked a bit about why they're showing these particular features. A) They're excited about it, B) These are things they can show us -- there are other uses, but they're tough to demonstrate, and C) they're a small team, with only a limited ability to test them out in different contexts. Sergey also announced Google Glass Explorer Edition. It's a rough-around-the-edges version for developers. Preorders are available for US-based I/O attendees to start. Cost is $1,500, and they plan to ship it to you sometime next year.