Google I/O is a three-day annual conference where Google bring developers from all over the world to display and discuss their vision for the future of the Web, technology, and consumer electronics. This year’s conference made one thing abundantly clear: Google has been hard at work over the past year.
Beyond the usual facts and figures highlighting how awesome things are over at Mountain View, Google gave in-depth demonstrations and hands-on previews of their latest and most-anticipated products, like Project Glass, the Google Nexus Tablet, and the Nexus Q, Google’s new media streaming device with a social networking twist. Throw in a new version of the Android operating system for smart phones (4.1 Jellybean), a new Google Earth app with fully realized 3D cities, and voice control that rivals Apple’s Siri, and you’ve got one impressive showing from everyone’s favorite search giant.
In fact, it almost seems a misnomer to label Google as a “search company” at this point. While a large majority of their revenue dollars still come from Adsense, Google’s advertising service, it is becoming increasingly apparent that Google is serious about become a major competitor in the social networking, consumer electronics, and mobile arenas as well. For instance, their new Nexus 7 tablet fires a shot directly across the bow at Amazon by offering a tablet that has the same portable 7-inch form factor as the popular Kindle Fire except with a better screen, processor, more memory, and exclusive apps, all at the same $199 price point. Google also seems to have Apple in their crosshairs with major updates to their Android operating system, which include drastic performance increases, a slicker notification system, and its Google Now service which offers Siri-like voice recognition combined with the ability to receive location- and time-based updates and information. For example, if you’re waiting for a bus and your bus has been delayed, Google Now will recognize your location (i.e. the bus stop), inform you of the delay, and offer up alternative routes to get to your destination.
Another major announcement involved a new media streaming device dubbed the Google Nexus Q. The first thing you will notice about the Nexus Q is its cool and sleek design. It’s essentially an orb with futuristic LED ring along the circumference and an assortment of ports to connect to your television, monitors, and/or speakers. Functionality-wise, the Nexus Q allows anyone with an Android phone or tablet and a Nexus Q app to push audio and video from their device to the Nexus Q and control the order of the playlist, making for some eclectic and possibly frustrating listening parties.
Now that the “boring” stuff is out of the way, we can get to the main attraction of Google I/O 2012, Google’s Project Glass. For the uninitiated, Project Glass is a sleek wearable computer that resembles an everyday pair of eyeglasses (except with only one lens) that supposedly does everything from facial recognition to cool augmented reality overlays that will turn your everyday life into an exciting futuristic adventure. Google is not quite betting the farm on Project Glass, but it’s pouring a lot of time and resources into it. Google co-founder Sergey Brin has been quoted as saying that the project is monopolizing about 50% of his time at the present, and it’s still at least two years away from being released. In many of his public appearances as of late, Sergey has been sporting the prototype version of Google Glass, which makes the wearer look like something somewhere between a Borg and an extra from Blade Runner. For those that can’t wait to assimilate, Google is now offering a pre-order deal for early adopters. You can get your hands on Project Glass before all of your friends for the low low price of…$1500 dollars. Sure, it’s a little north of an impulse buy, but plopping down your one-and-a-half K will get you early access to the device itself as well as first crack at the development environment, if you’re interested in that kind of thing. In addition, you will receive a glass block with your individual Google glass identification number stylishly embedded in the center, the ultimate conversation piece for your mantle.
Google had many more announcements and demonstrations beyond those discussed in this article. For more information, go to https://developers.google.com/events/io/.