Google created quite a buzz at its I/O software developers' conference in San Francisco when it distributed Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 to over 5,000 attendees.
However, Galaxy Tab 10.1 was not the only highlight of the ongoing event. Google made some strategic announcements at the event as well. Here is a recap of the key announcements made by Google at the conference.
Google gave a preview into some interesting statistics as to how its iOS killer OS Android is faring. It stated that about 100 million Android devices have been activated so far. Over 400,000 new Android devices are activated every day. In the apps segment there are about 200,000 both free and paid applications to choose from the Android Market. Also about 4.5 billion apps have been installed from Android Market. There are about 310 Android devices around the world.
Movies for rent at Android Market:
Google also announced the availability of movies for rent in the Android Market. Movies can be rented from the starting price of $1.99. The movies can be rented from Wednesday and an update for Verizon Xoom customers will be released later in the day and update to Android 2.2 and above will follow in the coming weeks.
Google previewed its new platform Android@Home which would allow users to sync Android devices with various home appliances like dishwashers, cars, media equipment, thermostats and anything which has an electrical connection. CNN quoted Joe Britt, head of the Android@Home team who said: We'd like to think of your entire home as an accessory, or better yet as a network of accessories, and think of Android as the operating system for your home.
Android@Home platform was developed as an open-source which can be accessed by any device and controlled by any wireless device including an iPhone. Eric Holland, Lighting Science's vice president of electrical engineering told CNN that this would allow developers to write apps for any appliance without being concerned about the proprietary protocol.
Google showcased an example of the platform through its Project Tungsten, an Android device which works with Music Beta and allows users to control music playback from anywhere in the home.
Cloud-based music locker - Music Beta
Google also launched its own cloud-based music locker service called Music Beta. The service enables users to upload and store their music trove on the web which can be accessed by Android phones and tablets and computers. The service also allows users to create a playlist on the phone which can be later accessed through a desktop or tablet. It also allows users to play music when they are offline as the service stores the playlist on the Android device. The service is in beta and will be available on invitation only.
Android Ice Cream Sandwich
Google announced that the next version of smartphone Android codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich which combines the features of its tablet specific OS Honeycomb and smartphone OS Gingerbread. The new OS UI's look and feel will be based on Honeycomb's UI. The merging of the two operating systems is an attempt by Google to address the fragmentation issue that Android faces. However, what is still unknown is about the lead figure who will head OEM for Ice Cream Sandwich OS. Traditionally, Google has always released its new OS with an OEM partner like Android 3.0 or Honeycomb with Motorola Xoom and Nexus S for Gingerbread with Samsung.
In order to deal with fragmentation, Google and key members of the Open Handset Alliance will formulate certain guidelines to address the issue as to how early the devices can be updated with a new platform and for how long should the update continue. It announced that presently participating members can avail latest Android platform updates for 18 months from the release of the device. Current participants include Verizon, HTC, Samsung, Sprint, Sony Ericsson, LG, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Motorola and AT&T.
The gamut of releases reveals that Google is attempting on one hand to plug existing loopholes in the Android platform, adding new cloud-services to pre-empt Apple and outlining its future vision in that it wants Android to become a multi-device OS including hose appliances.