Saturday, 14 May 2011

Usual Flood from Google I/O

Getting over our jealousy of the attendees receiving lots of free gadgets, the Google I/O Conference 2011 produced the usual flood of announcements.
  • Android 3.1 for tablets, the improbably-named 'Ice-cream Sandwich'
  • Music Beta
  • Google Video
  • Android Open Accessory Development Kit (ADK)
  • Android @Home
  • Android Update Alliance
  • Google Chromebooks
The stage presentation was rather dull, the announcements potentially huge. In summary, Android everywhere (just don't mention Google-TV). Where to start...?
  • Android 3.1 for tablets Android 3.1 is now available for the Xoom, which brings a number of important features to the platform, such as an USB host API, input from mice, joysticks and game-pads, the Open Accessory API and more.
  • Android Ice-cream Sandwich which will unify the tablet and phone versions of Android in Q4 in 2011 and will therefore bring several Honeycomb features to smart-phones.
  • Music Beta by Google: an internet-based music service. Buy music from the Android market (or upload your own music from iTunes, Windows Media Player, or any other source); stream to any device - smart-phone, tablet, or regular computer. Automatically sync to Google's servers, available on all devices - including play-lists. Recently played music will be cached locally for off-line access, and you can manually make songs available off-line as well.
  • Music Beta by Google a restricted beta programme for which you need an invite and a United States IP address.
  • Google Video: a video service. A movie rental service much like the recently launched YouTube rentals, You have a 30-day slot to watch your rented film, and 24 hours to finish it once you start watching. It's all cross-device, of course.
  • Android Open Accessory Development Kit (ADK): an Arduino-based accessory development kit. Create all sorts of accessories for Android, which are recognised by the operating system in a special accessory mode. There's no certification process, so aspiring hardware hackers can just get on with it using the Arduino open-source electronics prototyping platform.
  • Android@Home. This is Google's vision of every device in your house being an Android accessory. Demo's include a game tied into the the mood lighting in your house. Another combined Music Beta, near-field communication and Android@Home: CDs equipped with Near Field Communication chips, which you could then tap against a mini hi-fi set to make the music on that CD available using Music Beta - a second tap started the music playing. I still don't get this one – CD's with NFC chips? What??!
  • An alliance of device makers and carriers to bring timely Android updates to devices for a minimum of 18 months. Still sketchy, this supplier list includes HTC, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG, Motorola, as well as the four major US carriers and Vodafone. Anybody is free to join this alliance.
  • Google Chromebooks Two Chrome OS notebooks from Samsung and Acer, now called 'Chromebooks', will be available in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy and Spain starting June 15. Google will be offering a combined software and hardware subscription service for businesses, schools, and government customers. The pricing of Google's subscription plan is modest: For $28 per user per month, businesses will receive Chromebooks, Web-based administration controls, enterprise-level support, a warranty, and hardware replacement upon subscription renewal. Schools and governments have access to the subscription package for $20 per user per month.

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