Google's annual developer conference (Google I/O) was held in San Francisco on June 25th and 26th. As in previous years, most of the conference speakers were Google employees and the majority of the exhibit booths featured Google's own products. In contrast, Oracle's annual JavaOne conference has an open call for presenters, and the majority of the exhibitors are outside vendors. But regardless, both the Google I/O and JavaOne conferences bring thousands of attendees to the Moscone Conference Center each year.
What was Google pitching in the exhibit hall?
Proving that the statements made by Google executives in the conference keynotes weren’t just forward thinking hype, various booths on the exhibition floor featured the very Google products that executives touted during their speeches, including:
- Android Wear: This is Google's entree into the world of smart watches. An Android Wear watch syncs in real time with your smart phone. The watch can display email messages, tweets, calendar items, local weather, and with its built-in pedometer, the number of steps you take while you're wearing it. The Samsung Gear Live version of this watch reports your heart rate with a build-in heart monitor. Best of all, each of these watches tells time.
- Android Auto: A screen on the car's dashboard gets intelligence from your smart phone. The unit displays directions, plays music, sends messages to contacts, and does other useful things. The user interface is controlled entirely by voice, so there's no danger of having you fiddle with controls while you drive. Cars with Android Auto are expected to roll out by the end of this year.
- Android TV: This is Google's latest foray into television. After the failure of Google TV, and the success of ChromeCast, Google hopes that Android can unify the smart TV market. Android TV includes voice-controlled search, gaming, and other features. Both Sharp and Sony will ship models that support Android TV.
- Cloud Platform: Google's announced several new tools to help developers work in the cloud.
- Cloud Dataflow: The developer concentrates on the business logic; Google's software creates all the plumbing to control the flow through the data-analysis pipeline.
- Cloud Save: An easy way for the developer to save a mobile user's data in the cloud.
- Cloud Debug: A web-based debugger for cloud-based applications.
- Cloud Trace: A tool for visualizing the timing of service requests for an app running on the cloud. Where are the app's bottlenecks? What part of the code requires refactoring?
- Cloud Monitor: A tool to help the developer monitor the run of an app. What values are becoming critical? Fix them before they become noticeable to the app's users.
- Chrome and Chromebooks: The emphasis here is on mobile device integration. Notifications from your smart phone will pop up on your Chrome OS screen. Android apps will be able to run on your Chromebook. The keynote included a demo of Evernote for Android running on a Chrome OS device.
- Google Fit: An open platform for developing apps and accessing sensors. This project is a single set of APIs to blend data from multiple apps and devices to get an overall view of your fitness. The platform includes data sharing with a mind to your need for privacy. A preview of the Fit platform will be available soon. Nike will soon be on board with its NikeFuel line.
- Cardboard: This is Google's whimsical response to the Oculus Rift. Each Google I/O attendee got a piece of cardboard with some lenses, a magnet, and a place to perch a smart phone. An app downloaded to the smart phone displays a slightly different image in each eye and presents an impressive, 3D experience that responds to the user's motions.
Of course, these were just the products that management saw fit to highlight in their keynote speeches. There was still an entire world of interesting and compelling products that occupied the exhibit floor that were worth examining, even if those products weren't necessarily highlighted in any of the morning or afternoon keynotes.