Friday, May 17, 2013

Google I/O 2013: The Greatest Hits

As discussed on this blog and many other sites, the recent Google I/O Conference 2013 was more about iteration and less about hardware-product revelation. It was a conference highlighted by the announcements of several solid upgrades and the integration of some robust tools to pre-existing platforms. A few critical new platforms were announced that will take greater shape in years to come. Many of the new enhancements integrate into what has become a very dynamic platform-hub, Google+.

Notable tracks from the I/O include Google Glass app dev, Google Play Music All Access; Android integrated development environment (IDE); GIF-image creation; hosting, sharing, and editing tools on G+ (Highlight & Awesome); smarter Google Now functionalities; upgrades to Search, Maps, Hangouts, and Google Now; and upgraded Android developer tools and consoles.

Glassy Outlook: App Releases and Software Development
Google Glass was mentioned only briefly in the marathon keynote kick-off to Google I/O on

Wednesday, but Day Two filled in the gaps with numerous sessions on Glass. With the hardware now in the hands of many developers, the apps flood is sure to follow. Official Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr apps were debuted at the conference. The sessions on Glass were reportedly packed. Interest in Glass technology is surging from a variety of sources including consumers, developers, and government. Consider the development of Glass as a real-time case study on the intersections of technology, politics, sociology, and philosophy.

Digital Self: Google Now Gets Smarter
Google Now is getting smarter, a lot smarter. Google’s Knowledge Graph-based search intelligence grows rapidly, which means a more robust Google Now interaction for users with new upgrades that seek to anticipate information requests and provide the most useful and relevant query results. Precognition via the Nexus 7.

In the era of big data, giving context to data is incredibly important. Google Now promises to

provide data in larger context, providing not only targeted results from information, but also relevant attendant data that helps build a more complete search experience. Data data data. A Google Search trial is now open for opt-in that will reportedly enhance Google Now intelligences; linking in a very deep way across your Google digital self, including access to emails, calendars, search, and appointments. Google Now is increasingly becoming a hub layer, a data transit hub, a starting point, and an all-access, easy-access path to digital self.

Writing for Time Tech, Harry McCracken reported:
"In Chrome, Google’s classic desktop version of search will get the same conversational spoken search which is already available in the mobile apps.

On all platforms, that search will get smarter about interpreting queries and sequences of queries — such as “Show me things to do in Santa Cruz,” “Show me pictures of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk” and “How far is it from here?”

You’ll be able to go into spoken conversational mode by saying “OK, Google” rather than having to press a button to go into a special mode.

The Knowledge Graph, which gives Google a better understanding of facts about all sorts of entities, will try to anticipate your follow-up questions and answer them based upon what other people search for. Ask for the population of Canada, for instance, and it’ll tell you — but it will also graph how that population has changed over time.

Google Now’s Cards — which present you with summaries of info based all kinds of stuff Google knows about you — are adding additional types of content, such as notifications about TV shows and albums you might like. In a feature which sounds similar to something Apple’s Siri already has, you’ll also be able to create reminders that pop up at the right place and time, such as one reminding yourself to pick up milk at the grocery store.”
Digi-Terra-Incognita: Google Maps

Google announced a redesign of mobile and desktop Maps that is intelligent, visually

compelling, design smart, and personalized. This is in keeping with Google’s larger efforts across platforms to make interface and visualization a more pleasurable and enduring design experience for users.

The Map experience goes deep, integrating map search with visual, social, and data tools in 3D spaces, where the map itself is the interface. Searching for local records stores on maps will include things such as friend likes, card pop-ups, images, direction information, and 360-degree interior viewing. Personalization is a cornerstone of the new Maps, allowing the user to engage in a variety of interactions with new and saved data that interlinks with web resources. Enhancements to navigation tools include easy map routing options; driving, public transit, walking, and biking directions; and public transit schedule viewing with overlays of transfers. All these features are contextualized with spatial awareness and perspective tools; get visuals from space to the coffee shop in a few clicks, in real-time.

Mobile Map upgrades include some cool features such as traffic jam pops-up, suggested routes, and major sources of traffic jams. New tablet interfaces include an “explore” feature for enhanced local search.

Picture Me Rollin’: G+, Highlight, Awesome, and Photo Interwebz Fun
It was announced that Google+ will see 
the integration of a robust set of photo hosting, sharing,

and editing features. One standout inclusion is Highlight, an intelligent photo search and analysis tool that can recognize photo imperfections, identify landmarks, run face recognition search, and engage in photo ID. A new photo editing tool includes features such as auto-enhancement, noise reduction, light manipulation, and exposure correction.

Awesome is another new tool that has some very cool uses. By running “auto-awesome” on photos, Google+ identifies pics in a series, blending them together into an aggregate photo comprised of the the “best” elements of the pics in the series. Images can also be linked together to create animated GIFs, be used to create HDR shots, or stitched into panoramics. Reddit prepare for the deluge.

Hit Me: Google Play Music All Access
Google has entered the music streaming service in substantial fashion in the form of Google

Play Music All Access, a platform that integrates personal libraries with the growing Google Play Music catalogue.
“Radio without rules.”
Google Play Music All Access provides many of the services currently available on similar products such as Pandora and Spotify, yet underpins the experience with Google’s superior search infrastructure and attendant platforms and products. Critical components include personalized radio stations, favorite songs or artists lists, browse recommendations, expanded search functions, easy song access, and music curation and personalization. Pricing models are competitive with current industry standards at $9.99 a month after a 30 day free trial, with an early purchase offer of $7.99 a month before June 30.

Android Developers Get New Diggs
Google also announced a new development environment, Android Studio. While details are

forthcoming, it will include multiple layout tools for a variety of devices and tablets, show changes to Android app code reflected in real-time simulations, and include additions of various developer services. These developments are in line with the improvements to the developer console that will include five new features that reportedly will increase revenue generation for developers, provide access optimization and development tips, and provide an app translation service that allows developers access to professional translations directly from the developer console. Globalizing development spaces. With an eye on revenue generation, referral tracking has also been added so developers can better promote their apps, a feature that integrates with Google's Analytics service, allowing developers to see where installs come from directly within the console itself. Two final additions will include app revenue display graphs, and (this is big) beta testing and staged rollouts of apps.

Image Source: By Tedeytan (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Image Source: By Maciek Łempicki from Szczecin, Poland (Sign of Go...ogle!) [Public domain or CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Image Source: By User:AppleLion (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Image Source: Algont from nl [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

Image Source: By Viking9173 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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