With last weeks close to the 2014 Google Developer’s Conference, we have assembled a list of the top 5 highlights just in case you didn’t have a chance to follow along.
Google Drive underwent a major redesign given Google’s overarching aim to make a user’s web experience feel more native when it comes to apps. The most notable improvements, however, are not so much visual aesthetics, but major improvements in functionality. Google has built in Quickoffice’s technology directly into its Docs, Slides, and Sheets apps, allowing you to open and edit Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files in their native format directly in app. For the time being, the feature will only be enabled in a Chrome browser, but hopefully support for additional browsers won’t be too long down the road.
Delivering on expectation, Google spotlighted a handful of sleek new Android Wear smart watches in this year’s Keynote, including the all new LG G3, Samsung Gear Live, and the Moto 360. The Moto 360 will be released later this summer, but both the LG and Samsung Gear are available for immediate purchase through the Google Play Store. All the Android Wear devices unveiled work to provide useful in-the-moment features such as the ability to get messages from friends, notifications, and view weather updates at a glance, through the convenience of a wrist-bound device. You can also respond to messages, send texts, and ask questions by prompting Google Now by voice, providing even greater utility. All of the features provided are meant to become a harmonious extension of our Android mobile devices, allowing us to keep up to date on relevant information without having to always pull out our smartphones.
As anticipated, Android TV was introduced as Google makes a third attempt at our living rooms. Contrary to rumors, however, Android TV is offered as a software platform to be integrated into Smart TV’s and other third party devices rather than its own standalone set top box. Users will be able to stream movies, TV shows, and other content using their smartphones and tablets as control, and quickly search the system by voice. In addition, the software will provide full support for the ever popular Chromecast dongle allowing you to beam content from your mobile devices directly to the TV. With any luck, a third release might just be the charm Google has been hoping for to take over the largest screen in the home.
Also to no surprise, Android Auto was highlighted as Google looks to become a staple in in-car technology. Much like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto provides the convenience of mobile technology through a streamlined in car interface, allowing users to use navigation, stream music, and use a wide range of compatible apps making the driving experience more enjoyable. The best part is, the system is completely voice enabled allowing all functionality to be controlled by making verbal commands. Google has already assembled an impressive group of automakers including Ford, Chevrolet, Honda, Jeep, and Audi, with Android Auto rolling out in new vehicles by the end of the year. It will be interesting to see how Android stacks up to the highly publicized CarPlay.
One of the most desirable announcements of this year’s conference involves the increasingly popular Chrome operating system seen in their widely acclaimed affordable Chromebooks. Users have been clamoring for Google to allow for the use of Android apps through the Chrome OS, and it seems Google is indeed working to bridge the gap between the two. Android apps are coming soon to Chrome OS, as well as some continuity features such as the ability to be notified of incoming messages and calls to your mobile device on your Chromebook.