Google I/O 2013 keynote has just ended and although we did not have any new hardware or a new Android version, there were plenty of worth reporting announcements. So without taking too much of time, let’s dive in and see what all has changed now that the opening keynote in San Francisco at Google I/O has come to an end.
Hangouts aims to unify messaging
There were strong rumors even before the I/O had kicked off that Google would be announcing it’s own messaging services which will replace Google Talk and provide a cross messaging communication service. The rumors did come true and Google announced Hangouts which is available for download already for iOS and Android and allows seamless communication between desktops and mobile devices. The interface is clean Holo like and the overall experience is extremely snappy. Things work like a treat on Hangouts, be it real time message delivery or video chats. The app is fairly limited as of now, as there is no support for Android tablets. Also, you can only transfer image files as of now between the contacts. Surely an update will roll out allowing us to transfer Contact information, videos, audios etc.
You can download hangouts from Play Store here.
Samsung Galaxy S IV Google Version
Google announced that it would be releasing a Google version of the Samsung Galaxy S IV, with vanilla Android version 4.2.2 on board. The device will come with unlocked bootloader and unlocked with support for LTE. Everything else remains the same as found on the original Galaxy S IV. The Google version will cost you back by about $649.
A Redesigned Google Maps for iOS, Android and Desktop
All the three versions of Google maps got a major upgrade as Google aims to bring a similar UI experience cross platform. The Android and iOS versions will get a better search functions in the app meaning you will be able to not only see the directions, but also read the reviews of the restaurant you want to go to, or make phone call to reserve your seat. The app would automatically search for online discounts or coupons and also redirect you in case there is an accident or traffic clogging.
The biggest update though was reserved for the desktop version of Google maps as it got a massive UI lift. The web version now has a similar boxes like features as found on Google Now and has deep integration with Google Earth and support for 3D maps. Zooming all the way out, you will be able to track the earth in space and also see the clouds and their locations in real time. The app also has the ability to search for flights between two destinations and give you an inside view of a restaurant or place you just searched for better real life experience.
Though, no dates were announced for the redesigned maps, Google did say the updates will roll out in the summer. There is a preview available though for the web version of the redesigned maps which is on the basis of invite only. you can visit maps.google.com/preview to request your invite.
Google Play Services
There was a very strong rumor that Google would be announcing a competitor to Game Center as found on iOS and we were not disappointed when the service was finally rolled out. It basically allows the users to play games and post their high scores and achievements to their friends via Google+ sign in. You can also invite your friends for a multi player game. Google Play Services also allows you to play your game on your smart phone and seamlessly switch to playing on the tablet right from the stage you left off. Although, the implementation depends on the developers and currently only a few games are supported, you have to feel that play services will eventually be a big thing.
All new Designed and Feature Filled Google+
Google+ has not been the sort of success that everyone expected it to be. As a result the team behind is making all sorts of changes and bringing in features to attract more people to use the service. The latest is the UI redesign giving it a more box like view similar to Google Now as well as ability to edit your images in house automatically which were uploaded to G+. You also have the ability to auto extract the best images from a bunch of images taken during a holiday to show off and a motion GIF like collection of burst images taken in a short space of time. Google+ indeed is banking big upon all these features to take them to the next level.
A more comprehensive Google Search and Google Now
Google has made big improvements to Google Search now and you can search for your flight tickets as well as Hotel reservations and other journey details directly. Google Now also brings suggestions for the sort of music or TV shows that you may like based on your search history. you can also book appointments and set reminders using Google Now. There is a deeper integration of Voice search now built into the web search and you have a lot more graphical results appearing with comparison to countries like US and China in case you ask a question like the population stats.
There were a lot more announcements such as a refined developer program as well as a new redesigned Google Play Service with streaming capabilities. All and all, even though there were no great surprises, Google I/O as expected was all about services than products.
What are your views on the announcements held and which ones do you think will be the most crucial in the long term? Let us know in the section below.