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Google I/O 2012 - Jelly Bean, Nexus 7, Nexus Q, and Project Glass

clock June 28, 2012 00:40 by author Jeremy

Today marked the start of Google's I/O 2012 event. Their main attraction, which was heavily hinted at, was the release of their latest Android version, 4.1 Jelly Bean. With each new iteration of the OS, we acquire faster processing speeds and better software. Google opened up by introducing Project Butter, which is what makes the processes on Jelly Bean smoother. "In Jelly Bean we also introduced triple buffering in the graphics pipeline... this allows the CPU and GPU to run in parallel without waiting for each other." The entire OS now runs at 60 fps consistently. The devices running Jelly Bean now also bring more CPU power as soon as you touch the screen, and the OS anticipates where your finger will be next.

Perhaps one of the more exciting features of Jelly Bean, however, is its voice-search function. Similar to the Apple iPhone's Siri, the Android device will answer questions or perform tasks you issue via voice. The demonstration Google provided seemed very slick, and responses arrived quickly as well.

A new feature, Google Now, will memorize patterns of behavior, as well as using your calendar and search history. In case you routinely take a bus, Google Now will keep this in mind and offer regular bus routes. Google Now can even keep updated information on your favorite sports teams.

Currently, only the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S, and Xoom are scheduled to get Jelly Bean, and their OTA updates will arrive mid-July.

Hardware-wise, I/O '12 saw the release of the Nexus 7, a Google-tablet made in conjunction with Asus. The Nexus 7 is a 7-inch tablet with a 1280x800 HD display, a Tegra 3 chipset, quad-core CPU, and 12-core GPU. Since the device was built around Google Play (which replaced the previous Android Market), the tablet more-than-efficiently makes use of screen space when reading books/magazines and watching videos downloaded from the market. The tablet is available starting today at $199.

Google also showed off their Nexus Q today, a social steaming media player. The Nexus Q is a little black ball that connects to either your television or external speakers. When controlled by your devices, the Nexus Q will pull media from the Google Play Store to play to their connected devices. All this is done via the cloud, of course, and multiple Q's can be played simultaneously, turning your entire house into a media-centric home. The downside to the Q is that it currently only supports the Google Play Store, meaning no access to Netflix or Spotify.

Last but not least, Google showed off a spectacular preview of Project Glass: skydivers equipped with a version of their Google Glass Explorer Edition made their way toward the Moscone building via air (and even rapelled in through the roof), while the entire crowd watched. Designed to fit like glasses, these spectacles (if you can call them that) are positioned just above your eyes in order to capture video directly from your point of view. It can store video internally (albeit not much, yet), and is available for pre-order in the US at Google I/O only, for $1500.

Source (and pictures): TheVerge



Google I/O 2011

clock May 11, 2011 01:11 by author Jeremy

Google's I/O event was held today, impressing the world with the fresh updates and new implementations they've got up their sleeves.

To start off, Google announced that Android 3.1 would be released to Verizon Xoom customers starting today. The update will include customizable widgets, and will allow users to have their device act as a "host" for other devices: for example, connecting a digital camera to your tablet will allow you to import all of your photos, while connecting USB devices like an XBox 360 controller will let you play specific games using the remote. By summer, Android 3.1 will be getting another update to include Google TV, which will have its own section in the Android Market as well.

Speaking of new Android versions, Google's released the official name (but not software number) of their next OS: Ice Cream Sandwich (seen above). They're hoping that this will be the universal OS applied to all devices, including your phone and tablet. While not officially stated, general word amongst fan-droids is that this should help battle fragmentation.

Also new to Android versions: Google has struck a deal with a large list of carriers and OEM's to make sure that all phones released will receive updates for a minimum period of 18 months. While this doesn't explain how often the updates will occur, it's still a start in the right direction. One of Apple's main strengths over Android phones was their stability brought through regular updates; meanwhile, Android owners struggle to get minor fixes corrected within just a few months. See the picture below for just a few of the major OEMs and carriers involved.

Google's also announced two new software services (though this first one was pretty much all but "officially" confirmed): Music Beta and instant movie streaming. Music beta will hold up to 20,000 songs in the cloud and is free (for now - very important note there). Like iTunes and many other media players, you can create playlists, see lists of recently played and play counts, and even offers "Instant Mix" (like iTunes' Genius). Also, once playlists are made, they'll be available on each Android device you own - no need for wires anymore).

Instant movie streaming will have varied pricing, starting at $1.99 for regular movies and $4.99 for HD selections. Upon renting a movie, you have 30 days to start it; once started, you have 24 hours to finish. The real question is how this will play out against other major movie streaming cmopanies such as Netflix.

Music Beta is available now for everyone to tinker with (remember, it's only free while in Beta). The movie streaming app will come with the Honeycomb 3.1 update and will hit phones "in a few weeks" (2.2 and above required, though).

The last two announcements really drove Google's point home - quite literally, too. Android at Home is one of them, which will allow your Android devices to control large appliances and devices throughout the house. This includes dishwashers, thermostats, even lamps. Google realizes that these machines won't have wifi or USB docks, so they're accepting developers to come work with them to make this a relaity. They've already started working on a few examples, such as controlling lights with your tablet.

The other announcement is one welcoming everyone to test and create for ADK, Google's new hardware design. It currently incorporates USB integration, but hopefully will include Bluetooth later. With the ADK, users will be able to control any number of products with their Android devices, assuming it gets a big enough kick-start from hardware designers and developers. At I/O, Google's example was a wooden labyrinth which was controlled by a Xoom via USB.

All in all, lots of exciting things at I/O today. Probably the most famous of these was the promised updates to phones from carriers/OEMs. We've still yet to hear what software number Ice Cream Sandwich OS will be, but we're sure it'll come out in due time. For now, we have Music Beta, instant movie streaming, and soon Google TV to hold us off.

Source/Pictures: engadget.com



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