Wow. Yesterday was quite the day for Google. I’d like to quickly summarize everything that was announced yesterday, but there was so much, I might miss something. So let’s get started and hope I get it all:
Google Music Beta
Google’s music cloud service was not only announced, but released yesterday (go here to request your invite). Those of you who listen to our podcast know that I was excited when Amazon announced their MP3 Cloud Player, so it is no surprise that this really has me going. However, unlike Amazon’s service, Google does not offer a way to purchase music (… yet).
Initially, this beta is only available for invitation, of which I have not yet received, so I am forced to sit by the wayside and read reviews until I’m blue. Once I get the invitation, I will be able to write a full review. The idea is that you upload your entire music collection (up to 20,000 tracks) and never have to worry about managing your music physically again. It comes complete with a web interface for playing music and creating playlists, which eerily resembles a famous competitor’s interface, plus there is a music player available for download on the Android Marketplace for mobile devices.
On the downside, from some reviews that I have read, the upload time is really slow; about 50 tracks per hour, which works out to about 4 MB per minute; to upload 20,000 tracks would take you more than half a month. Also, once you upload your music, you have no way to download them again. So if you lose your local copies, and Google’s servers get wiped out, you’re out of luck.
On the bright side, 20,000 songs is roughly 60 GB to 100 GB of storage, which greatly trumps Amazon’s initial offering of 5GB free.
More on Google Music later. Moving on…
Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0?)
Up until now it appears that Google has split it’s Android OSs between mobile phone devices and tablet devices. According to the key-note yesterday, Ice Cream Sandwich will resolve that apparent issue. This version of the OS will target both handheld and tablet devices and eventually also be supported on netbook and laptop devices.
Ice Cream Sandwich will include Honeycomb-like features, zippier multitasking, a new launcher, and more inherent features for home screen widgets.
There’s really not much more to say about Ice Cream Sandwich except for… HURRY UP!
Android Open Accessories
This was another exciting announcement. The Android Open Accessories API will add support for USB to Android devices. This API will be included in the Honecomb 3.1 update, as well as the Gingerbread 2.3.4 update. This will allow many types of external devices to directly interact with the OS, including but not limited to audio devices, input devices, storage devices and communication devices.
Along with this, we get…
Open Accessories ADK
The new development kit for Open Accessories will allow developers more control of their software’s interaction with hardware. Google teamed up with the Arduino open source hardware interface which also opens up the avenue for more custom hardware to be built for android. This kit is currently only offering USB support, but will soon support Bluetooth protocols.
The Honeycomb update was also released yesterday for Motorola Xoom customers and comes with a few hefty upgrades. The biggest hitter in this upgrade is the inclusion of the new Android Open Accessories API. Other upgrades include native resizing of homescreen widgets and support for the Google TV upgrade coming later this year (see below for info on this).
Google TV to Android
It was announced yesterday that Google TV will become a fully supported Android device. Currently, it is based on the Android platform, but does not have access to the Android Market, and does not support most Android apps. This summer, current Google TV devices will receive an OTA update for Honeycomb 3.1 and will include access to the Android Market. We will also see new Google TV devices from Logitech, Samsung, Sony and Vizio.
Last, but not least, the ability to rent movies on YouTube was released yesterday. They opened with 3,000 movie titles and will continue to add more each week. Rental prices range from free to $4.99, with most new releases priced at $2.99. Google has signed license deals with Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures, Universal and Lionsgate. You can even ‘pin’ a rented movie for offline viewing later on. Android device viewing will be available shortly and will come to tablets first.
The first day of Google I/O was indeed a whirlwind of information. Here is a quick mention of all the other items that were covered during the 1st day:
- Preview of Google +1 button for publishers
- Google App Engine 1.5
- Google Books API
- Android @Home
- Project Tungston
- Style maps and more customization for Fusion Tables
- Google Storage for Developers
- Google Plugin for Eclipse 2.4
- ChromeVox screen reader for Chrome and Chrome OS
- New charts and features in Google Chart Tools
- Improved Google Prediction API
- Announcement of upcoming P2P NFC protocol
- Google Places API
- Improvement to Google Web Fonts
Let me know if you’d like me to write more information on any of these topics.