Google launched its I/O developers conference Wednesday, a marathon of events that have drawn legions of tech bloggers and journalists. Here’s what stands out from the news flowing out of San Fransico today.
The Big Picture: Google is hoping to expand its Android program dramatically—to your cars, homes, and even your accessory collections. You may be able to get a new smartwatch from Google soon.
But what does that mean? The Internet giant is trying to tap a hitherto unexploited area, integrating highly sophisticated Android technology and everyday gadgets.
The Background: Google has been active on a number of different hardware fronts.
It christened Android-centric Google Glass last year, which, although now too expensive at $1,500 a pop for most average consumers, may soon drop down to a more affordable price.
Google also recently bought the home technology manufacturer Nest. And it has famously discussed plans to create a driverless car, a goal expedited by a partnership with the luxury automobile company Mercedes-Benz.
The integration of these divisions may presage some exciting new programs. For example, cars outfitted with Google software may one day be able to notify a household thermostat automatically when it nears the house.
On to the good stuff:
The Gadgets: On Wednesday, Google outlined its plans for Android Wear, the updated operating system designed to work with wearable technology like smartwatches. An Android-powered smartwatch has the ability to give the wearer notifications when a package arrives or when the traffic gets bad on the way to work, according to The New York Times.
Google also announced Android Auto, a system that merges with a smartphone to give the driver access to their contacts, music, and maps. According to The Times, the gadget was designed so that the driver would not have to stare continuously at a screen, but could instead focus on the road.
Other programs trotted out by Google were Android TV—an Android-based streaming service that figures to work similarly to Apple’s Apple TV—and Project Volta, a program designed to help elongate the battery lives of Android devices, according to the Times. And it touted its efforts to help developing countries by revealing Android One, a program to aid manufacturers seeking to sell cheap smart phones to the developing works, according to the Associated Press.
But beyond simply announcing its newest programs, the conference also generates the obligatory buzz around Google products and plans, and helps developers forge important bonds with the advertisers upon whom their products rely.