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The Google I/O 2014 Keynote Address

by Barry Burd on Jun 26, 2014 |

Google’s two-day 2014 developer conference began with the opening keynote address. (The “opening” keynote is, in fact, the only keynote in this year’s schedule.)

Sundar Pichai, Google's Senior Vice President of Android, Chrome and Apps served as host in the presentation. Mr. Pichai began by describing the Android One initiative -- a reference platform for Android phone hardware. The reference platform attempts to address difficulties surrounding the wide variety of hardware running on the Android operating system.

In addition, Mr. Pichai discussed Android L (Android 5.0) -- the next release of the Android SDK. This release includes approximately 5000 new features with an eye toward a consistent experience across differing mobile devices and on the desktop. The developer review of L becomes available on June 26. The public release of Android L is likely to be sometime in the fall of 2014.

Matias Duarte, Google Vice President of Design, described the Material Design paradigm in Android L. Material Design describes each pixel with both a color and a layer. A pixel's layer describes how far the pixel is from the glass on the screen. Code that's built into the API uses layer information to create shadows, to manage animation, and to achieve other 3D-like effects. Animations can span from one activity to another and from one application to another.

Dave Burke, Senior Engineering Director of Android, described a new Heads-up style for notifications in Android L. With the Heads-up style, a high-priority notification can appear immediately on the screen without covering up the currently-running app. He also introduced personal unlocking -- a scheme that automatically unlocks a user's phone when (for example) the user's watch is nearby.

Burke also discussed the ART runtime for Android. Introduced experimentally in the 4.4 release ART is the default runtime for apps running Android L. (ART replaces Dalvik -- the default runtime for previous Android releases.) ART represents up a 200% performance improvement over Dalvik, with a new garbage collector, support for ARM, x86 and MIPS processors, and full 64-bit compatibility.

David Singleton, Director of Engineering for Android talked about Android Wear -- Google's API for watches. The API operates in concert with a user's phone to display notifications and provide control for phone functions. The full Android Wear API becomes available today.

Patrick Brady, a Director of Engineering for Android, talked about Android Auto -- using the driver's phone to provide intelligence for the driver's dashboard console. With androidauto, the driver's console provides maps and directions, plays music on request, speaks incoming text messages, and records outgoing messages. With driver safety in mind, Androidauto is controlled entirely by voice. The Android Auto SDK is available today. Cars using androidauto will be coming off the assembly line at the end of 2014.

Rishi Chandra, Director of Product Management for Chromecast talked about androidtv. Working off the success of Chromecast, Android TV aims to unify the experience between the phone, the tablet, the television and other devices. A developer adds television support by including a LEANBACK line in an app's code. A user can control the television with a watch or any other Android device, and notifications from the device appear on the user's TV. Sharp and Sony have agreed to ship Android-enabled televisions in the near future.

Sundar Pichai spoke again, this time about ChromeOS. As in previous discussions, the emphasis is on device integration. When your phone is nearby, the phone's proximity will automatically unlock your Chromebook. Incoming call notifications will appear on the Chromebook screen, and the Chromebook will alert you when your phone's battery power becomes low.

In the BYOD realm, Pichai spoke about Google's Certified Android for Work program. One aim of the program is to make it practical for an employee to carry a single phone for work use and personal use. Without going into details, Pichai described the phone as being safe for corporate standards, but also customizable for personal needs. More information will become available as the public release of Android L draws nearer. As a side note, Pichai mentioned that Google Docs now provides native editing for Microsoft Word documents. (Documents no longer need to be converted to and from Google Docs format in order to be edited in the cloud.)

Urs Höelzle, Senior Vice President in Technical Infrastructure, introduced several new products for developing in the cloud. These include Cloud Debugging, Cloud Tracing and Cloud Monitoring. He also introduced Cloud Dataflow -- a simple, fully-managed service to create optimized pipelines for analyzing data. Cloud Dataflow replaces Map/Reduce, which has become too cumbersome for use in today's analytics.

Finally, Ellie Powers, Product Manager of Google Play, announced that the Appurify team is joining Google to improve the app testing experience. Improvements include cross-platform testing, global device support, and connectivity simulation. She also announced a preview of the Google Fit Platform -- a single set of APIs to blend data from multiple apps and devices for an integrated picture of a device owner's health. The SDK will be available in a few weeks.

Following this keynote, the conference schedule contains approximately 200 sessions. The chart below shows the number of sessions devoted to various Google-related topics.

IO Session Graph

(Some sessions belong in more than one of the topic categories. So the total count in the chart adds up to about 300, not 200.)

Google’s annual conference is known for its competitive ticketing. Last year’s conference tickets sold out fifty minutes after going on sale. This year’s tickets were sold by lottery, with tens of thousands of people applying for tickets and approximately five thousand people winning the right to purchase tickets.

 

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