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Google I/O 2015: Some cool stuff but dull overall

There was much anticipation and buzz in the lead-up to Google's big I/O event. Of course, as ever some announcements were already predicted and as Google’s SVP, Sundar Pichai came on stage, he said that over two million had joined the live-stream. I caught up on all the action later and was left feeling a bit underwhelmed.

Quite a few announcements were made but here were the ones that stuck out for me:

Android Wear

David Singleton, director of Android Wear took to the stage to reveal Android Wear’s new features. He emphasised that wearables apps should be “glanceable, actionable and effortless” and proceeded to demonstrate some slick wrist gestures for scrolling down grocery shopping lists. Impressively, more than “4000 apps” have been built specifically for Android Wear.  

 Singleton wanted to emphasise though, that checking the time was still an integral part of the experience, because, in his own words, “Checking the time is pretty cool” (Is it now?).

 And so he continued…

 “You can see the time all the time”.

 Drawing emojis

 Ok, so now that we have established that telling the time has not been obliterated altogether, he revealed that users will be able to draw and send emojis on the watch. He then demonstrated this by drawing a cocktail glass and the watch immediately recognized the image and sent it to the user. The audience gasped in awe as if in presence of a great miracle - but hey if people love emojis that feature is sure to be a hit.

 Internet of Things

Personally arguing with my fridge about why it didn't warn me my food was going off or, even worse, having my lights argue with each other over how dim the lighting should be for my well-being is not something I think I would enjoy but Google, envisions a “smarter home” where devices “talk” to one another to create a better home. Pichai is back on stage and says there are challenges present for manufacturers as well as developers who do not know how to target these experiences. He admits that it’s also confusing for users to “make all these things work together”.

 Pichai says Project Brillo will give “full operating support” to the Internet of Things and Weave will provide “the communications layer where the Internet of things can actually talk to each other in a common language”.

 Google Cardboard and virtual reality

Remember Google Cardboard?  The aim was to make virtual reality available to everyone. Clay Bavor, VP of product management takes to the stage to mention new improvements which include the Cardboard being able to fit screens as large as six inches and only involving three steps to assemble. The Cardboard also supports Android and iOS now.

 Classroom expeditions for kids

For kids the news about virtual reality is even more exciting. Bavor says that you can’t take kids on school trips to the moon but with virtual reality anything is possible. The feature called Expeditions arrives with a box with “Cardboards and phones for every student” and “tablets for teachers” and all these devices are synchronised so the teacher can pick any place in the world and take the classroom there. Bavor says they are partnering with the American Museum of Natural History, the Planetary Society and the Palace of Versailles. For kids this is sure to be immense fun and beats watching boring nature videos any day.  

Pichai is back to conclude the keynote and mentions Google’s driverless cars in passing. He says that its “hybrid vehicles have driven a million miles autonomously without a single incident being caused by the self-driving car”. It is worth noting that Google admitted in a web post that its self–driving cars have been involved in 11 “minor accidents in the past six years” but as confirmed by the keynote, Google stands by its claim that the accidents were not “caused” by Google.

Overall while there were some nifty features revealed, I was left feeling a bit blah about the whole thing. Nothing really stood out.

 

Should the traditional watch industry fear Android Wear? Download our new report looking at how the watch industry feels about the giants of Silicon Valley muscling in on its turf.

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Ayesha Salim

Ayesha Salim is Staff Writer at IDG Connect

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