The 7 most important announcements from Google I/O 2014

The 7 most important announcements from Google I/O 2014

Google’s annual developers conference just wrapped up with a ton of announcements from the company. All the news is a bit overwhelming, but here’s a wrap-up of the most important things the company announced.

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Android’s getting a makeover

Google released a new set of design guidelines for developers today, giving Android a new look. The guidelines will help developers add depth to their apps using shadows and layering.

There are also new animations that developers can use to make navigation easier. Buttons can have pulsing effects, and tapped buttons will show ripples.

Material Design header

The redesign isn’t just affecting Android; the guidelines will help web developers create sites that act like apps. Google wants a single user experience across all its platforms, from the phone, to the web, and even the car.

“We wanted one consistent vision for mobile, desktop, and beyond, something clear and simple that people would intuitively understand,” said Google vice president of design Matias Duarte.

Google polishes the next version of Android

Android L

The next version of Android isn’t ready just yet, but Google showed us a preview of it today. Called Android “L” for the time being, the operating system will offer a polished experience, but no groundbreaking features.

Beyond its redesign, Android L will feature new notifications, which you can manipulate on the lock screen. Notifications are now prioritized, bringing the most important notifications to the top. Android L will learn how you use your phone and will prioritize notifications accordingly.

Battery Saver

Google is also focusing on improving battery life with a new Battery Saver mode. This will turn off non-essential features on your device to help save some juice, and you can schedule how long you want Battery Saver to be enabled. Google’s new Android Runtime also promises speed and battery improvements.

Android Wear is finally available (sort of)

Android Wear Softonic

Google teased us with Android Wear back in March, and now, we can finally get our hands on it. Well, almost. Google now has LG and Samsung’s smartwatches running Android Wear, available for pre-order later today.

Of course, we got to see Android Wear in action. The interface is simple and shows notifications like cards; swipe left and right to access more information about a notification.

Voice commands are key to Android Wear, allowing users to send and receive messages by speaking. We also got to see Google’s smartwatch control music playback on an Android phone.

Android Wear also has the ability to interface with Google’s other hardware. If you have an Android Wear smartwatch and Android phone, you won’t have to enter a password for your phone. Android detects when a paired Android Wear device is nearby and unlocks the device, a feature which also works with Google’s Chromebooks.

Android Auto offers powerful tools for drivers

Android in the car header

Watch out Apple CarPlay: the short demo we saw of Android Auto showed a powerful driver-friendly interface that will launch sometime this year.

Android Auto runs off of Android L, Google’s upcoming update to Android. The system is contextually aware, so it knows when you’re in the car, and will mirror a driver-focused interface on your car’s head unit.

Android Auto header

Google Maps provides Android Auto navigation prowess, and Google’s excellent voice commands let you control everything. You can have messages read to you, and you can compose a response using your voice.

We also got a short glimpse of the music interface, though we didn’t get to see any third-party music apps running on Android Auto. Google released the software development kit today, so there should be plenty of apps when Android Auto launches later this year.

Android TV is taking on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku

Android TV Softonic header

While the Chromecast only received minor updates, Android TV is a whole new take on living room entertainment. Android TV lets you watch movies, TV, and YouTube, as well as letting you game. It also supports casting media so that you won’t need both Android TV and Chromecast in your living room.

Android TV’s interface looks extremely similar to Netflix, which puts shows and movies in a card layout. Swipe left and right to browse different sections of content.

Android TV Softonic

What makes Android TV unique is that Google’s search engine is built-in. This means that you can tell Android TV to look up “Oscar nominated films from 2002”, and you’ll get a list of results. You can also look up information about a movie or show, similar to Amazon’s X-Ray feature for its Fire TV. Curious which actors are in a movie? Android TV can tell you.

Android TV also supports gaming, something the Fire TV also does. We also saw how various Android devices can function as a controller for gaming, and you can even use your Android Wear watch to navigate and issue voice commands.

Google Docs finally supports native editing for Office files

Google Docs suggested edits

Google Docs can finally edit Office files without needing to convert them into another format. Editing Office files is now seamless and makes Google Docs a serious alternative to Microsoft Office.

To celebrate, Google released Google Slides for Android, letting you create presentations on the go No word on when iOS users can expect to see Slides.

Google wants to track your health and fitness

Google Fit header

Google Fit is the company’s new platform for all things related to health and fitness. It wants developers to create apps that can share information with Google Fit so that it can create a fitness profile for users. This allows Google to monitor your health and offer suggestions about how you can improve your health or workouts.

Don’t expect to see Google Fit any time soon though, as the software development kit will be coming in the next few weeks.

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