Downtown San Francisco – Moscone Center West – May 15-17 2013.
Google was hosting its 6th annual developer conference Google I/O and we at ADTELLIGENCE were part of it. It was a great three-day event with lots of information for developers and the tech world about new APIs, new experiences and the path that Google is taking towards the future.
The conference kicked off with a three-hour keynote event on Wednesday morning. The crowd was lining up for hundreds of meters through the base level of Moscone Center to be part of the speaches. The vibe was very good and everyone was excited to hear the news. 6.000 attendents were there, when the big event started. Google’s Senior Vice President Vic Gundotra introduced the keynote. Instead of last year’s big hardware announcements and big show (hint: sky divers wearing Google Glass), this year’s news were mostly about new APIs and new services Google is launching. Most of the pre-conference rumors were not true. No new Nexus 7, no word on Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie…
The first part was all about Android and Google Play. Sundar Pichai, SVP Android, Chrome & Apps, pointed out that there are now over 900 Mio. Android-running devices over all. Following him, Hugo Barra, VP Product Management for Android, announced new APIs for Google Play services as well as the new Google Play game services API. All of these fill up some gaps the developers were missing or that enable them to create very new features and experiences, like cross-device Google+ Sign-In or cloud save for game stats.
Following this, the new Google Play Music All Access, a music streaming service by Google, was announced by Chris Yurga. The service allows users to play millions of songs from the Google servers and receive personalized recommendations based on their music taste. With this brand-new service, Google is competing against well-known music streaming services like Spotify.
After some more announcements on Google Play, the next big news came from the corner of Google+. There is a new design for the news stream, as well as a unified messaging service that’s being called the well-known name Google Hangouts. Some big work also goes into pictures that you upload to Google+. There are several new services to enhance your pictures automatically, making them look “awesome”.
In the next section Amit Singhal announced some great enhancements on Google’s core product, Search. Google Search now uses tons of data from last year’s released Knowledge Graph to show better results and more details for a search result. Also conversational search will be available on all devices, including desktop. By “hotwording”, a user can just sit in front of his computer, say “OK Google”, and search is activated. He can ask his question right away and will get a spoken response next to the search result. Both speech recognition as well as the spoken answer look very accurate. Google Now even goes one step further. It anticipates what a user is doing, asking, where he is located etc. The Google user receives important information in the always up-to-date Google Now cards, right when he needs them.
Google Maps will receive a new design as well as some major enhancements on mobile and desktop, which were announced by Brian McClendon, Daniel Graf, Bernhard Seefeld and Jonah Jones. Many user-generated content will go into the new maps, e.g. photos and recommendations. Every user will see his personal maps with places and recommendations that are related to him. Search is directly built-in. Directions on maps now also include public transport services which can be seen in a built-in schedule viewer. The integration of Google Earth right into the browser allows the user to see accurate 3D models of the whole world, with the ability to “fly” into buildings and see pictures from inside, based on user-generated content.
Another big moment accured right in the last part of the keynote. Google’s Co-founder and CEO Larry Page entered the stage. Although he has heavy voice problems because of a disease, he spoke for 45 minutes about the past, present and future vision of Google and added a Q&A session, allowing the audience to ask their questions directly. Larry was very open and answered in great detail.
After the keynote event, we attendees were able to go to the sandboxes and booths all over Moscone Center and talk to the companies there who were building great things for and with Google, as well as getting our questions right to the developers and team members of all Google products and services. In parallel there were over 150 sessions and coding camps to dig deeper into certain areas of interest.
Day one ended with the After Hours party, which included robots floating around the area, good food and a live performance by Billy Idol. One of the many hands-on interactive experiences, and a very cool one, was a bar with three robot bartenders who were creating drinks for the audience. After adding your desired ingredients into a tablet device in front of the bar, the robot arms started filling and mixing the drinks. It’s obvious that the bar had a lot of happy customers, and the robots served way over 1000 drinks that night.
One fact that everyone at the three-day conference recognized was the high number of attendees in Moscone Center who were actually wearing Google Glass. Although it was not mentioned in the keynote, everyone was excited about seeing and trying out Glass, at least for some moments at the Glass booth. To tell you: It is an awesome device. Not getting in the way of a person’s sight, it delivers information on a small “screen” that’s being projected into your eye when you look up. Not only we, but also the Glass team itself was curious about which directions Glass will go to. Its destination is laying in the hands of the Glass developers out there. Still it is clear that it is not yet a ready-to-market product.
To sum up, the great event was very developer-centric (as it should be) and did not produce too many hardware news. All of the API announcements are really helpful to the developers out there, which they also stated in every conversation. Google users around the world and on every device will get to try the new functions and designs of products like Maps and Search soon.