You, Google and the Future
Google’s grand vision for your connected life was revealed in great detail during the company’s annual developers conference, Google I/O, held during the last week of June. Like some people’s Facebook relationship status, “it’s complicated.” Read on to learn what you can expect from Google in the future…
What's Coming From Google?
The Internet of Things is one major trend for which Google is gearing up. As more and more appliances, household furnishings, clothes, and even consumables such as soup cans get connected to the Net, there are more digital displays on which Google can sell ads.
It behooves Google to “own” that ad space by extending the hegemony of its Android and Chrome operating systems into every niche developers’ market. People are looking at multiple screens each day now: desktop, phone, TV, tablet, smartwatch, in-car dashboard display, and so on.
Google plans to be everywhere your eyeballs are. That's not to say that you'll see Google ads on soup cans, but you get the idea.
Google says that Android phone users check their phones more than 125 times per day, on average. So the smartphone will become the command-and-control center for your digital life in Google’s vision of the future. Here are some examples of products and services that Google unveiled at the I/O conference:
The Android One initiative is intended to bring a “high quality, affordable smartphone” to the market – in developing countries, so don’t hold your breath for that. Google is developing a set of hardware and software reference platforms, like the Intel Ultrabook platform, that OEMs can use as blueprints to produce highly functional Android phones and other devices at market prices of less than $100.
Android L (the version that comes after KitKat), the next version of Google’s mobile OS, will extend beyond phones to cars, TVs, wearables, and other next-generation mobile devices. Android L is a huge effort; Google is adding more than 5,000 new APIs to Android, enabling that many new feature sets that app developers can use.
Project Volta is Google’s battery-conserving Android initiative. It includes Battery Historian, tool that shows which apps and processes running on your phone drain the most power at a given point in time. The new Job Scheduler API lets developers of maintenance apps restrict their apps’ power use to times when the phone is connected to an A/C power source. Battery Saver mode slows the CPU’s clock, lowers the display refresh rate, and suspends background data transfers to conserve power. This functionality is long overdue, and I just hope it works better than all the battery saver apps I've tried so far.
It's Only Natural...
The Android Wear developers’ toolkit was unveiled three months before the I/O conference. It enables apps that interact with users naturally through round or square displays on smartwatches, sleeve windows, and other wearable display types.
Voice commands are the “natural” user interface in Android’s future. An example is Lyft, an app that obeys the spoken command, “OK, Lyft, call me a car” by pinpointing your GPS location and contacting the Lyft car service; pretty soon a driver and car show up. This should work fine unless you prefer another car service such as Uber, or you’re standing at a noisy intersection and the app has trouble understanding you. "Did you say: 'OK, Schlitz… call me a bar?'"
Android Auto is a project that makes Android more car-friendly, with voice commands for navigation, music, and communications such as phone calls, email, etc. “Hands-free” interaction with your smartcar is presumed to be safer even though studies show it’s the attention you’re paying to the car that distracts you from that baby stroller in the street.
Android TV is Google’s new attempt to invade your living room. Google TV failed to establish a beachhead after four years and two major assaults, but Android TV hopes to exploit consumers’ love of phones to get them hooked. Smartphones and tablets will be used to control TV and ancillary gear, and compatible remote controls will be supported incidentally.
People watch TV an average of 5 hours per day, according to Google. Chromecast plans to put the other 19 hours to work displaying photos and “mood” media (think tropical fish swimming), and allowing any app to be mirrored on a big-screen display; that would be ideal for Google Earth, for instance.
A Warm, Fuzzy Embrace
Variations of just two Chromebook models – the Acer C720 family and the HP Chromebook 14 – occupy the top ten spots on Amazon’s list of best laptops. Google plans to keep pushing the successful Chromebook model, particularly in K-12 schools. Your Chromebook will automatically sense your Android smartphone, sync with it, and the two devices will embrace you in a warm, fuzzy user interface. Eventually, Android itself will run on Chromebooks.
A really big deal for business users is the debut of Native Office Editing, which integrates MS Office documents into Google Docs. You can edit a Word .docx document without converting it to Google Doc format, or create a new document and save it in .docx format.
As you can tell, Google plans to expand its reach into every corner of consumers’ lives. It remains to be seen whether that’s a good or bad thing, overall.
Your thoughts on this topic are already known to Google, but go ahead and share them here, anyway. :-) Post a comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 3 Jul 2014
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- You, Google and the Future (Posted: 3 Jul 2014)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved