Google I/O 2014 recap: Android this, Android that

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Google’s annual developer conference is just over for 2014, and at Android Beat, we’ve brought you all the most interesting coverage of the event. Now, it’s time to sit down and try to digest everything that was announced, released, and previewed. Whether you felt overwhelmed over the past days, or you’re just now looking for a way to catch up on all the hotness, this post will help you find all the Android-related news and editorials from I/O 2014.

This year’s event was clearly focused on Android, with the majority of the first keynote geared toward the operating system and its expansion beyond phones and tablets. Let’s Android All The Things felt like the main philosophy and motto, and lead us to see that unlike previous analysis, Android, not Chrome, is at the heart of Google’s future strategy.

Android L

The next version of Android, L, was previewed at I/O with a release date slated for the fall of 2014, and many interesting features. It is built on “Material Design,” a new design language introduced to unify experiences across platforms and screens. It also has Google’s new effort to reduce battery consumption, Project Volta, and a partnership with Samsung to bring KNOX’ security and business features to stock Android.

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Following Google’s announcement, HTC was quick to tell everyone that their One M7 and M8 devices will be getting L less than 90 days after its release, and Motorola followed up by promising L in the fall to Moto X and Moto G owners.

But, if you can’t wait and you don’t mind trying an unstable build, Android L developer preview images are now available for the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 and we even have a handy installation tutorial for you. And if you don’t own a Nexus 5 or 7, the only piece of L software that is available is the new keyboard, which has been ported to KitKat devices.

Android Wear

The second hottest piece of news from I/O was the full release of the Android Wear SDK for developers to tinker and start writing wearable apps. Speaking of wearables, the LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live are now available for pre-order on the Play Store for $229 and $199 respectively.

image G Watch, Gear Live

 

If you’re thinking about buying these, you should check if your phone is compatible with Wear and keep in mind that their battery life and charging will be huge annoyances in everyday use.

Android Auto and TV

Two other incarnations of Android were revealed at I/O 2014. The first is Android Auto, an in-car control system that connects with your smartphone and lets you get directions, enjoy your music, and more. The second, which has been rumored for a long time, is Android TV, an entertainment and gaming system for the living room that uses voice recognition and joystick controls.

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Both aren’t yet available in released products, but many partners have been announced with most corresponding hardware hitting the market before the end of 2014.

Android One

Aside from the Nexus program, Google announced Android One, an initiative to bring high-quality devices to the low-end market, and primarily focused on India now. By recommending hardware elements, writing drivers, and handling the software and update side of things, Google will only rely on manufacturers to physically build the phones, cutting down their costs to a minimum. And we think it will disrupt the budget smartphone market.

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Other Android things

Stats-wise, Google announced 1 billion 30-day active Android users and completely flipped the software update argument, by saying that 93% of Android users are currently on the latest version of Play Services, to avoid mentioning any numbers related to the install-base of KitKat.

The company also announced their fitness dashboard, Google Fit, and added features to Play Games, while also releasing a separate Slides app to go with their Drive, Docs and Sheets apps.

Other notable news include the screen mirroring capability from Android to Chromecast, some gap-bridging between Chromebooks and Android, and talks of a consumer-focused Project Tango tablet by LG.

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What did you think of I/O 2014? Are you paranoid about Google sneaking creepily into all the gadgets around you, or do you think all this new gear and SDKs will work to enhance the interaction with your environment and hence your everyday life?