Google I/O Roundup
A few weeks ago Apple held its WWDC conference; last week, Microsoft had the Windows Phone Summit. This week, it was Google's turn, with two-day I/O event in San Francisco. For the most part, its announcements weren't too far removed from those at its rivals' events. Apple had iOS 6, Microsoft Windows Phone 8 – and so Google showed off Android 4.1, Jellybean. Microsoft revealed its Slate Tablet devices, and Google unveiled the Nexus 7. But the devil, as always, is in the details.
While some parts of Jellybean seem like a direct challenge to Apple – most notably Google Magazines, the Play store's answer to Newsstand, and Siri-a-like Google Now, which makes the personal assistant's capabilities available offline – others are more uniquely Google. The brilliantly-named 'Project Butter' is an attempt at making the Android OS run smoother, and the Knowledge Engine powering Now and its search functionality could be a quiet gamechanger.
The Nexus 7, meanwhile – with its quadcore processors, low price point, and lack of 3G – doesn't so much feel like an attempt to dethrone the iPad, like Microsoft's Slate devices, as it does the Kindle Fire.
Those were the two big – and rather predictable – announcements, but by no means the only ones. The introduction of Nexus Q, for example, the Android-powered sphere which will apparently begin shipping in the next few weeks. It's a media streaming device which can play YouTube, as well as music, TV shows and movies bought through Google Play, and can be controlled using an Android app. Of all the announcements, it's the Nexus Q which has attracted the most criticism, with the $299 price point in particular raising a few eyebrows.
On the software side, a new and improved version of Chrome for Android was shown on the second, more developer-focused day of the conference. Along with Google Drive, a version of the browser is being brought to iOS.
Throw in a rather inevitable-feeling demonstration of Google's Project Glass AR device, and Google I/O had more than its fair share of mobile-relevant announcements – even if its thunder was stolen a little by it coming at the end of conference season.