A Dummy’s Guide to Upcoming Technologies Announced at Google I/O
Google’s annual I/O (Input/Output) conference is a tech geek’s dream, an orgy of all things web, mobile, and social. This year, Google announced several new developments, giving the world an exciting window into the fast-approaching future of tech.
If you weren't quite geeky enough to be there in person, or you’re still unsure about what to expect in the coming months, here’s a roundup of the stuff you should be getting familiar with.
In mobile, the big news was the latest Android upgrade, 4.1 Jelly Bean. It’s the fastest version of the OS yet, and comes with a keyboard that learns and improves text entry over time. But perhaps the most exciting development is Google Now, Google’s answer to Siri. Google Now advises users on the weather, their daily commute, and nearby bars; it’s sort of like what would happen if Foursquare and Siri had a hyper-social love child.
Moving up the device ladder, Google also introduced the Nexus 7. To bring the $199, 7-inch HD display screen tablet to life, Google partnered with hardware manufacturer Asus. The device is the first 7-inch tablet with a NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor (meaning it’s small, smart, and fast), and comes with Google Now. In recent drop and water-dunk tests, Nexus 7 proved more resilient than the iPad. And if you’re a clumsy mess like me, that’s a huge plus.
The Nexus 7 connects to Nexus Q, the media-streaming player that Google showcased at I/O. Basically, Nexus Q is a ball (“could be easily mistaken for a speaker, or an actual ball for that matter,” according to Mashable) that streams your media content from the cloud into your living room. It connects to smart TVs and other devices to play movies, YouTube videos, and music. Users can mute sound by swiping a hand across the front of the ball. Moving a hand behind it will adjust the volume.
While it’s competing with already existing products like Apple TV and streaming players from Logitech and Sonos, Nexus Q could be a solid all-encompassing player option. Plus, Rolling Stone thinks it looks like the Death Star from Star Wars.
Project Glass, or Google Glasses, was the grand finale of Google I/O. To showcase the abilities of Google Glasses, slated to hit the market in 2014, the Project Glass team jumped out of a plane wearing their eyewear. As they jumped, their view was relayed to a Google+ Hangout projected on a large screen in the Moscone Center, where Google I/O’s keynote speeches were held. The team members landed on the roof, and then arrived on stage to deliver a pair of glasses to Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin.
The glasses record video and take photos, and even include a gyroscope for measuring orientation, an accelerometer, and a compass. They’ve also got Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. Yet, somehow, they only weigh as much as a pair of regular sunglasses. One pair costs $1,500, and Google took orders from I/O attendees for an “explorer’s version” that will be shipped in early 2013. But skeptics are already predicting that Google Glasses will end up like Segways — that is, they'll only be used by dorks, policemen, and confused tourists.
Overall, Google put on a good show for I/O attendees, both wowing them with the Project Glass performance and delivering a positive progress report with the rest of its technologies.
Check back with the Conduit blog; we’ll be tracking these new devices as they hit the mass market.