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A new version of Android, a TV suite and a whole lot more.
It’s a Droid, droid, droid, droid world…
Google’s plan to make sure that everybody touches its ecosystem at some point appears to be going strong, if Wednesday’s lengthy 2014 I/O keynote is any indication. The search giant is expanding into wearables, cars that don’t drive themselves, low-income new smartphone users, and the living room. Have a look at some of the highlights.
Google appears to have realized that the number of smartphone-less people in the world is dwindling, and so has targeted them through the Android One program – it’s a specification designed to offer poorer users their most-demanded features at a sub-$100 price point. Indian OEMs Karbonn, Spice and Micromax are the first three partners for the program.
Google previewed the next major release of Android, dubbed Android L, on Wednesday. There are a host of changes under the hood, but the most important may be the pivot away from the Dalvik VM to a model called ART, which is expected to dramatically improve performance. Android L also has a new aesthetic – familiar from Google Now – that should help it fit on new form factors like…
Right on cue, and featuring smartwatches from Samsung and LG, Google rolled out Android Wear, a specialized version of the software built for, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, wearables. Wear boasts a long list of handy voice commands, notifications and so on, so you can compulsively glance at this instead of your smartphone all day long.
Yes, it’s sort of building on top of and cannibalizing the generally well-regarded Chromecast, but Google’s very own media hub will be built into several new models of Sony and Sharp TVs in the future, as well as be available in a set-top box. So it’s now Apple TV vs. Fire TV vs. Android TV. What fun!
Another strong play designed to keep you in the Google ecosystem more or less around the clock, Android Auto lets you plug your smartphone into a touchscreen-equipped car and interact with navigation, messaging, music and so forth from there, while keeping everything actually running on the phone. It’s unclear how close Android Auto is to actually making it into your driveway, however.
Android for Work
There’s really no escaping Android, in Google’s vision of the future – once you get to work, you may find Android for Work infesting your workspace as well, given the numerous impressive features it boasts. Now featuring unlimited cloud storage, Samsung Knox integration for improved MDM, and on-the-fly interoperability with Microsoft Office documents, Android for Work is the herald of a real push into the business world.