Google I/O 2014: everything you need to know (roundup)


Feeling a little overwhelmed by today’s flood of Android news out of Google I/O 2014? You’ve got our sympathies, as even without the rumored big-ticket announcement of a new Nexus tablet, there was still a heck of a lot to take in. We’ve been bringing you coverage of all the important developments all day long, but just in case you missed a few bits, we’re recapping everything you need to know:

Android One is Google’s new effort to make it easier for OEMs to produce Android handsets, and is especially aimed at those making phones for developing markets. Google takes a lot of the uncertainty out of hardware design and also provides software updates to a very GPe-like stock Android experience.

gear-live-small-hateWe still don’t know what the L stands for, nor if this is 4.5 or 5.0, but Google previewed what to expect from this fall’s release of Android L. The new Material Design interface seeks to make apps more accessible, easier to interact with, and greatly improves their ability adapt to screen sizes and form factors. From enhanced notifications, to the lock screen, there are a lot of changes here to look forward to, and with the developer preview arriving tomorrow, expect to be hearing a lot more about them.

Chrome gets a new look at it embraces Material Design, and multitasking changes will make it as easy to switch between web pages as you currently can between apps.

We heard quite a bit about the abilities we’ll be seeing from Android Wear devices, and also got the skinny on the start of hardware sales, as both LG’s and Samsung’s offerings hit the Play Store today.

Taking the idea of Android for mobile devices to the next level, Google shared news of Android Auto, which leverages new APIs to bring a low-distraction, voice-controlled Android experience to the screens in your car. Google continued with this spread into new device types with word of Android TV, building off its experience with Chromecast to integrate live TV, gaming, and (once again) voice control into a system that can either be embedded into TVs themselves or connected as an external accessory.

android-auto-smallSpeaking of Chromecast, that’s picking up a hot new trick, finally gaining official support for Android screen mirroring. It also loses the requirement for the device and your phone to be running on the same WiFi network.

Following Apple’s introduction of HealthKit for iOS 8, Google fired back with its own news of Google Fit, previewing how wearables – including both dedicated fitness trackers and more general purpose Android Wear devices – will be able to gather data and make it available for fitness apps to digest.

An update to Google Play Services bring a lot of new APIs, opens a few new doors for devs, and improves how Google’s able to deploy future Android updates. We go over the specifics in our coverage of the release, including the new features coming to Google Play Games.

Then there were all the little things – news items that didn’t grab the big headlines but still present us with some teases about the sort of projects Google’s been working on in its spare time: stuff like the very unexpected Cardboard project for turning your phone into a virtual reality 3D viewer. It’s not what we planned to run across when tuning-in today, but we’re nonetheless tickled to see it make its debut.

And while the keynote is over, there’s still another whole day of I/O to come, which could bring a fair assortment of interesting developments of its own. Be sure and check in with us tomorrow to see what happens.

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About The Author
Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bits Read more about Stephen Schenck!