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Google I/O 2014: Android L, Android Auto, and Android TV


Google I/O 2014’s keynote address brought a lot of goodies for developers and consumers, but there’s never enough space to cover all that was said for the progress and advancement of Android OS in the coming days and months.

The presentation was a whopping three hours long, but we don’t want to bug you with all the technical details that’ll make your head spin (the details sure made our heads spin!); instead, we want to take a look back at the three major announcements made at Google I/O’s keynote address that you’ll encounter as the announcements come to fruition. Of all that was said and done, Android L, Android Auto, and Android TV are the three largest announcements that will impact the lives of most consumers in the days ahead. Most of the details were already leaked before the actual event.

Android L

Google decided to call the new update “Android L” for now, but makes it clear that the “L” stands for a name that hasn’t yet been announced. We won’t know the name of the new Android update until this Fall, when Mountain View usually introduces the new update statue at its California headquarters.

We did get to see what the new Android L wallpaper will look like although we can’t make out if it’s just a basic wallpaper or upcoming “treat” to KitKat. For developers, however, the Android L release brings more crisp and precise animations that are activated via human touch, not to mention color schemes that bring out the colors of any given app or webpage. By way of something Google calls “Material Design,” Google will add 3D viewing capabilities with realtime shadows to enhance your experience with on-screen content. Enhanced Notifications provide a way to quickly accept or dismiss a notification from your lock screen, without having to swipe past your lock screen (or use an unlock pattern or PIN) in order to view them. Now, you can answer any notification without the hassle of swipe to unlock.

Heads Up notifications will allow you to receive and answer notifications even in gaming, without having to return to the home screen or swipe your notification window to access them. In short, Google wants to eliminate the barriers between you and your notifications, making the experience as effortless as possible.

Android L and the Mobile Web Experience

Google enhanced the mobile web experience in Android L, along with its changes to user interface design. This includes not only the look and feel of webpages and apps, but also allows you to access recent pages easier (redesigned recents) and apps (by way of app indexing).

Redesigned recents allows you to access formerly accessed webpages without all the hassle of returning to Chrome. Now, you can access your former webpages the moment you access the Internet via a Google search engine bar. You no longer need to visit Chrome to access those old pages. In other words, Google’s improving its internet notifications and web browsing experience so that your Google search engine bar becomes a familiar place. It’s likely the case that most users tend to click on the browser icon (Chrome) to access the Web, while neglecting the Google search engine bar.

Last but not least, app indexing will allow you to find your way into apps that you’ve already purchased – or find your way to these important apps at the Google Play Store. What this’ll do is give developers more publicity so that users can become aware of their apps and download them if they so desire. It is the case that, as most Android users engage a large number of apps at the Play Store each day, they tend to forget the dozens of apps they’ve already downloaded. It’s refreshing when Google alerts you that an app you’re looking for is already available on your smartphone or tablet. It prevents you from traveling to the Play Store to see if you’ve already downloaded an app or not – saving you time to do other things that matter far more.

Performance and 64-Bit Technology

Google increased performance in the Android L update, which is what we’d expect with each new Android update. Runtime and graphics will be improved and better than ever, with Sundar Pichai noting that we’ll now be capable of desktop computing on mobile smartphones and tablets. This is attributed to the introduction of 64-bit capabilities into Android L.

Part of improving the performance of Android in Android L involved the elimination of Dalvik and the reliance on ART (Android RunTime). As for 64-bit processing, Google will make 64-bit tech available across platforms, with additional memory space to process multitasking on a large level.

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One of the biggest changes to performance in Android L concerns Google’s Project Volta. The Project Volta team was the same team behind Project Butter, and Volta brings with it the inclusion of a Battery Saver that allows you 1) allow the Battery Saver to remain “always on,” or 2) select a battery percentage at which to turn on Battery Saver. Google’s built-in Battery Saver will work similar to processor chipmaker Qualcomm’s BatteryGuru app that’s available at the Play Store. BatteryGuru allows you to customize your battery experience to activate when your battery reaches 10%, for example. It then turns off when you plug your device into a USB port or wall adapter.

What we do know about the Battery Saver feature is that you can likely get 19 more minutes of battery life than what you’ve. We don’t know if this is just a typo or misinterpretation, but Qualcomm’s BatteryGuru app will provide at least an additional 4 hours of battery life out of say, a Nexus 5. Google says that its Nexus 5 provides no more than 8 hours on Wi-Fi, but Qualcomm’s BatteryGuru app studies how you use your phone daily and then cuts off functions that you’re not using when you don’t need them. It allows your apps to update only when you want them to – a feature that Apple brought into iOS 7.

Hopefully, the Battery Saver feature will be forever on for most consumers. After all, you can never get too much battery life. If you can’t wait until this Fall, Qualcomm’s BatteryGuru app will work in the meantime. We’ve tested it on a Nexus 5 for six months – and it’s provided battery times as high as 16-21 hours on a single charge (two to three times that of Google’s original estimate).

Android Internet Security

Sundar Pichai also talked about Internet security and how to protect our devices from malware, viruses, and other Internet threats. Google’s pledging in Android L to provide malware protection, security patches by way of Google Play Services (and the Google Play Store), as well as factory reset protection and Universal Data Controls.

Android Auto and Android TV

Android Auto seeks to provide an “Android in the Car” experience where your Nexus 5, plugged in, can create an Android experience via your car’s navigation screen that is completely familiar. Google provided a car demonstration that showed how Nexus 5 users can activate even their Google Play Music while driving in the car, as well as directions – all via voice control. This prevents drivers from getting distracted with their mobile gadgets and reduces the number of accidents that can occur from driver distraction.

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Google released an Android Auto SDK for developers who want to use it for audio and messaging. As an added bonus, Google has partnered with numbers of Internet radio and music companies (including Spotify, Songza, Pandora, and iHeartRadio), as well as a number of automobile manufacturers such as Jeep, Bentley, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Acura, LG, NVIDIA, Panasonic, Kia, Nissan, and so on to bring a seamless Android experience to the automobile.

Android TV was deemed to be one of the biggest announcements at Google I/O, and it didn’t disappoint. Now, you’ll be able to access your apps, games, and favorite TV shows right from your TV screen. You can now use your Android smartphone as a remote control to operate your Android TV. If you don’t have your television remote, and your smartphone battery’s dead, you can even use your Android Wear smartwatch to control your Android TV.

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There were many other announcements made, but we think these will be enough to feast on in the coming weeks. Is there something that stood out to you at Google I/O 2014’s keynote address that we didn’t cover here? If so, feel free to let us know about it.

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