The day 1 keynote at the 2011 Google I/O gave the Android community a lot to be excited about. Here’s a rundown of the key points that were discussed:
There have been rumor regarding the name of the next major Android OS release for some time now, and most of them pointed to “Ice Cream Sandwich”. Google turned these rumors into fact by announcing that Ice Cream Sandwich will launch sometime in the fourth quarter of this year.
According to Google, Ice Cream sandwich will bring Androdi users “one OS that runs everywhere” – on phones, tablets, and any other type of Android device. The Honeycomb UI, launcher, multitasking interface, and rich widgets will all make their way into Ice Cream Sandwich, as well as some elements of Gingerbread.
Android 3.1 (Honeycomb update)
The next version of Honeycomb will begin rolling out to Motorola Xoom users on Verizon’s 3G network today. New features include:
A scrollable task switcher that lets you access all of your recently used applications from anywhere in the operating system
- Support for resizable and expandable widgets
- The ability to turn an Android device into a USB host, allowing you to connect devices like digital cameras (to directly import photos, for example) as well as keyboards, mice, trackpads, joysticks, and game controllers
- A host of UI tweaks and improvements
- Updated Browser app with expanded controls and options
- Updated Gallery, Calendar, Contacts, and Email apps
Android 3.1 will also be coming to Google TV, as will full access to the Android Market.
As we reported earlier, Google Music Beta launches today. You can you can sign up for a free invite at music.google.com and download the app (Android 2.2+ only) in the Android Market. You can use the new app without the music service as well.
Google Music will allow you to store up to 20,000 songs in the cloud free of charge and then stream the music to any PC or Android device. It automatically syncs your library and playlists and makes them available as soon as you sign into a phone or tablet.
You can listen to music while offline as well. The service automatically keeps a cache of your most recently played songs on-device and you can manually set it to store specific albums or playlists for offline use as well.
It must be noted that they state that Google Music is free during beta, so there might be a cost involved somewhere down the road.
You can no rent and stream movies directly from the Android Market and/or YouTube. You can browse through titles online or via your Android device and then watch online or stream it wirelessly to your tablet or phone. You can also “pin” movies to your Android devices in order to be able to watch them without an Internet connection. It looks like rentals will run anywhere from $1.99 to $4.99.
The update that enables this feature will be included in Android 3.1. It’ll also roll out to phones with Android 2.2 or higher “in the coming weeks.”
Android Open Accessory and Android @ Home
Android Open Accessory will allow Android devices to interact with everything from exercise bikes to physical games. Developers can use the new Android Open Accessory Development Kit (ADK) to create compatible hardware.
Google is also working on an “Android @ Home” program that will turn Android phones into full-fledged household controllers. Android devices will be able to discover, connect, and interact with a wide range of appliances, including lights, alarm clocks, thermostats, and dishwashers. Some of the first compatible hardware is expected to be out before the end of the year.
Google announced that they have established a team of industry leaders that’s creating guidelines for how quickly devices will be updated after Android updates are released. The team will also set standards for how long devices will continue to receive regular upgrades after their initial launch.
So far, Verizon, HTC, Samsung, Sprint, Sony Ericsson, LG, T-Mobile, Vodaphone, Motorola, and AT&T are all involved in the committee. Google says more partners may join as time moves on.
To start, the group has committed to providing Android updates for at least 18 months from the launch date of all new Android tablets and phones in their control.
This announcement wasn’t as great as it initially sounded, though. It’s being reported that when pressed about details on the alliance after the keynote they didn’t have much more info to give. The whole thing is apparently still being ironed out, so we’ll see how this one turns out.
Google certainly took the time to boast about key Android numbers. According to Android Product Management Director, Hugo Barra, more than 100 million Android devices have now been activated worldwide. Google is currently seeing more than 400,000 new activations every day, which is up from 300,000 in December 2010; 200,000 in August 2010; and 100,000 in May 2010.
They also noted that the Android Market now has 200,000+ apps available for download.
A Special Gift for the Attendees
This year Google gave everybody a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Limited-Edition. The yet-to-be-released devices are labeled as special-edition because they are totally vanilla, meaning they are not running any form of Samsung’s Touchwiz, and they also have a special white backing with tons of little “Andy” Android characters covering depicted. And rumor is they just may receive another device on day two. Check out some more pics of the tablet in the gallery below.
So there you have it. As I said there was tons of excitement during day one of I/O, especially for the attendees!
GalTab LE images source: ThisIsMyNext.com
Category: Android News
About the Author (Author Profile)
Co-owner and PR guy for GizmoNinja.com. I’m happily married and a father to a wonderful (most of the time) son. I work in the E9-1-1 software/data industry by day and am a tech loving geek in my spare time. I’m interested in all things tech, but am big into Android especially. I dabble in a little of everything – Android development, PC development, web development, etc – but am a master of none (not even close)… But I have fun doing it anyway! =P