Google I/O 2013

Google I/O 2013

On Wednesday, Google held its annual developer-focused conference, Google I/O, in San Francisco, California. As expected, the tech giant made tons of big announcements, highlighting updates to existing products and showcasing new programs and hardware. All of the conference’s biggest announcements have been highlighted on this site already, but if you’re looking for a greatest hits rundown of everything Google offered, consider this post a good spot for “one-stop shopping” for all things Google I/O 2013. (If you want to read the announcements straight from Google, check out their press blog here.)

  • Google Search got completely overhauled. Google’s strategy is summarized by three words: answer, converse, and anticipate. Singhal explained that many of the pieces of these upcoming changes can already be seen in products that Google has recently introduced—namely, Google Knowledge Graph and Google Now, with perhaps a splash of Google Glass, too.
  • Google Maps got a big overhaul, too. The Maps update brings a host of interface improvements, unification of its imagery and services, plus more personalized results. The new version of Google Maps is heavily customized for every user, with knowledge about a user contributing to discovery of new places using the same data as Google Now.
  • The mobile version of Google Maps also got a big update, too.  A new floating search box is the highlight of the main map view, and it incorporates a new suggestion engine that will help you find relevant places nearby and more. The new version of maps will also have live traffic incident reporting and re-routing.
  • Google launched its own streaming music service to compete with Spotify and others. Google Play Music All Access will run $9.99 in the US, with a 30-day free trial and it launches today. If you start your subscription by June 30 the price drops to $7.99 monthly. “Music unites us, it’s universal,” says Google’s Chris Yerga. “We set out to build a music service that didn’t just give you access to a world of music, but helped to guide you through it.”
  • You can now attach money from Google Wallet to Gmail messages. Email attachments have been limited to files forever, but now Google is rolling out a feature in Gmail that lets you attach money. Using Google Wallet, a new button ($) in the Gmail compose window will allow you to easily send money as a gift or repayment.
  • Google Now got new features as well. Probably the most useful is a new voice reminders tool — you can tell your Android device to remind you to do something, and it’ll bring up a quick dialog to let you set a specific time and then tap once to save the reminder. It’s quite similar to adding reminders in iOS with Siri, though it appears there’s no dedicated app to manage them.
  • Google+ got a whole ton of new features, including fun-sounding things like Auto Awesome. Some of these features include an Auto Backup tool with 15 GBs of free storage for full-size photos; an Auto Highlight feature which selects the best photos out of hundreds; Auto Enhance, which Google called “an easy button to make your images look beautiful” and Auto Awesome, which presents your photos as Gifs and collages.
  • Google+ Hangouts have become so popular that they now have their own app. The app was introduced by Vic Gundotra, senior VP of engineering, at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. He emphasized Google’s intention of “getting gadgets out of the way,” and giving people the ability to contact their friends, colleagues and loved ones on any platform, regardless of operating system. “Why should OSes matter?,” asked Gundotra. “People matter.”
  • Google Play added a whole new new section called Play for Education. The new Play storefront organizes content by education type, age and various other criteria to make the content discovery process simple for higher learning institutions. What’s more, all of the content that appears within this curated portal bears educators’ stamps of approval, so users know that what they’re accessing is tried-and-tested for quality.
  • Speaking of Google Play, the store got a big time visual overhaul. For starters, the web view of Google Play will now match up with the recently-redesigned Android app, with some convenient left-side navigation buttons to jump between music, apps, books and so forth. There’s also a new “designed for tablets” sections which, surprisingly enough, will let easily find apps that take advantage of larger-screen devices.
  • Google will offer an unlocked Galaxy S IV that runs stock Android on June 26. The news is big because it’s the first non-Nexus device to get blessed with this opportunity, and Google says it will be updated in time with all other Nexus devices. The Galaxy S4 will cost $649 with no contract, and will be usable on both AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S., Google said.
  • Google Play added cloud saves, leaderboards, achievements and more. Google has unveiled Google Play games services on Wednesday, a new family of APIs built specifically for game developers. The platform will support cloud saves, thereby allowing users to save their progress or game state and pick it up on a separate device, as well as achievements and leaderboards using Google+.
  • In terms of milestones, Android hit 900 million activations and 48 billion app installs. This is a big jump from the 400 million activations reported last year. What’s more, Google says there have been 48 billion app installations to date, including 2.8 billion in the last month alone, with revenue per user 2.5 times what it was a year ago. To put that in context, that’s not far off Apple’s latest numbers: the company has logged just under 50 billion downloads of its own.

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