Google Unleashes Myriad I/O Announcements

On Day 1 of the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco, the tech giant announced so many new things, one hopes they have saved something for Day 2. Announcements at the event, which runs June 25-26, included a do-it-yourself basic virtual reality app, a new version of the Android operating system, plus Android Auto and Android TV.

The first day was "quite a big deal," said Al Hilwa, program director for Application Development Software research at IDC.

The biggest takeaway, he told us, was "the huge expansion of Android to smart watches, TV, autos, and a whole bunch of areas outside the smartphone." As the Internet of Things emerges, Hilwa said, a lot of the Things "will be tethered to the smartphone, like the smart home or autos."

Next-Gen Android OS

The newest Android OS, which is being released in a developer preview, only has a letter to distinguish it for now, and that letter is L. Most observers are expecting the eventual name to be Lollipop, given Google's propensity for naming its OS versions after sweets. At the moment, the big calling card for L is that it will include a slick new interface built with the company's new Material Design language.

AndroidOne

AndroidOne is the company's attempt to meet the competition among low-end smartphones in emerging markets. It is a group of hardware reference designs that is intended to boost manufacturers' ability to offer Android phones priced under $100, where Nokia/Microsoft, Ubuntu and Firefox OS have also set their sights. Three India-based providers have already signed on.

Cardboard Virtual Reality

The virtual reality app, Cardboard, is described by the company as "a no-frills enclosure that transforms a phone into a basic VR headset." The app is accompanied by an open software toolkit, and a VR viewer can be built from such everyday items as cardboard,...

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