Google I/O 2013 Live: Google Hangouts Relaunched as Cross Platform Messaging Service and Much More

Here’s a Whole Bunch of Changes and New Stuff from Google I/O 2013.


Google CEO Keynote  

Google CEO Keynote


Here’s the Rundown in Reverse Chronology…

11.58 pm: Maps gets live traffic updates, five star rating system, massive overhaul

Google Maps the API of which according to the company, is used by more than 1 million active sites and apps, reaching 1 billion unique visitors every week, is getting a major overhaul on both iOS and Android. Its getting better navigation, a new design. And it will be available coming this summer.

Daniel Graf, Director of Google Maps and Google VP of Maps Brian McClendon also teased a new version of the Google Maps app that will run on the iPad.

According to TheNextWeb, “A new floating search box is the highlight of the main map view, and it incorporates a new suggestion engine that will help you find relevant places nearby and more.”

Also new in this version is an integrated Google Offers experience, which will make it easier to find free offers from Google’s daily deals service.

The three features according to Graf is that Google Maps is:

1) Built for You

2) Immersive imagery

3) The map is the UI – it will build a map depending on what you search for and what recommendations you pull up.

11.32 pm: ‘Conversational search’ now on your laptops and desktops via Chrome

Ok you can talk to your computer now. You can ‘converse’ with Google Now thanks to a new mode which will make it available on desktops, laptops and other devices via Chrome. ‘Google converse’ means you can talk to it in a natural conversational manner, saying for example, “Ok Google, show me things to do in Santa Cruz”.

So basically you can get spoken answers with hands-free voice search. It also recognises ‘hot’ words like ‘it’ and ‘here’ depending on your location and what you have asked it before.

Search has also introduced new Google Now cards, including reminders, public transit commute time, recommendations for albums and books.

11.28 pm: Google Knowledge Graph gets more languages, adds comparative stats

“The search of the future will need to answer, converse, and communicate”, says Amit Singhal who says that his dream of building a Star Trek like computer that talks to you when you ask it a question is almost here.

The Knowledge Graph will also give out statistics, like for example, India’s population vis a vis China and the US. Knowledge Graph will also be available in Polish, Turkish, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese.

 11.20 pm: Google Plus photos get instant uploads and auto adjustments

Google Plus photos have got a whole host of updates that shows that Google is really taking this platform seriously.

There is one feature that will automatically backup photos taken on smartphones, and send them to Google’s cloud storage. “”Some memories are not meant to be downsized.”says Gundotra.

Google also announced a bunch of new tools like a highlight tool that will strip out duplicates, an airbrush tool called image softener and improves your photos automatically, based on your camera. It will also automatically cluster bursts of photos into GIFs.

And the crowd is suitably impressed.

11.09 pm: Google Hangouts gets its own app

So Google has really upped the ante on Hangout. It has launched a separate app for the chat feature, which is being packaged as a new unified, cross-platform messaging service for iOS, Android and Chrome. Very very cool. It will be available for download from today.

The UI is a list of conversations, not contacts. Contacts are one tap away. It combines videos and google voice calls and you can also share photos on chat.

Way to steal BlackBerry’s thunder, Google. This means Hangout will now be competing with messaging services like WhatsApp, Viber and yes the newly launched cross platform BlackBerry Messenger.

11.01 am: Google + to get 41 new updates

That’s right. 41. But across three major areas. It’s going to get a new stream, new hangouts and a new photos experience.

The new stream looks pretty cool. It’s a multi-column design which can also be customised and there are lovely cards which can be flipped and faded out. The new design will start rolling out today.

Google Plus is also going Twitter’s way, with related hashtags. It sounds actually, like a combination of Google search, Google Goggles and Twitter. “We’ll analyze the contents of a post and Google will add a related hashtag”, says Google’s Vice President Vic Gundotra.

Basically Google Plus will look at your posts and photos and recognise things like Google Goggles, hashtag them automatically, and then you can click on those hashtags and get more information about what has been tagged. Nice.

10.53 pm: Google Play for education, because you know, Google has to fix education

So now it’s time for Google’s do gooder announcement. And this comes by way of Google Play for education” which can pretty much be summarised as an app store for teachers. It offers special apps for schools with educator help. Teachers can pick one app and send it to all kids.

Announcing the app, Google’s Chris Yerga says, “Teachers told us there’s a huge gap between what’s possible with technology and what’s practical… and then they told us it’s Google’s job to fix this.” Really? aawww.

Now a tear jerker video from Malaysia and the transformative power of Google chromebooks that helps children make the ‘web their school’.

Lots of cheers. “To me and a lot of others this is what the journey of computing is all about”, says Pichai.

10.50 pm: The give away this year is a Google Pixel Chromebook

Ah woe betide us all sitting here and blogging minus the freebies. The device giveaway this year is the Chromebook Pixel, rather than the Nexus phones and tablets from last year. According to CNet, “Seems to me like Google is shifting its developer priorities a bit. Android is certainly a healthy ecosystem, but getting developers to write Web apps — rich user interfaces, offline capability — is a lot harder.”

10.47 pm: Google demos very cool multi player mobile game Racer

Google shows off is a mobile Chrome game *Racer*

The next cool thing Google shows off is a mobile Chrome game *Racer* built for multiple mobile devices. Check it out here. Basically we saw people on five different devices playing racer on Chrome go against a common race track that was made up of putting all the devices together. So it’s a cooperative race with a single screen spread across five screens — now the audience is applauding.

 Image from CNet

10.41 pm: Google makes strong pitch for WebP image-format

Google is now talking up the WebP image format and basically saying that it kicks the Jpeg’s ass.

New web platform payment feature will make it easier to fill out forms and shop on mobile.

The image format can do the job of both of today’s major graphics formats, JPEG and PNG. Facebook began testing WebP support in April, says CNet.

10.32 pm: Experience on Chrome desktop and Chrome on Android will be the same, says Pichai

Google shows off that it has optimised Chrome so that users get the same experience on both mobile devices and on the web.

They show off a beautifully interactive trailer for The Hobbit movie (check it out here) and the experience of a user navigating it on mobile looks exactly the same as it would on your desktop. Very cool, but seriously the star of that presentation was the Hobbit trailer.

The big Chrome performance improvements since last I/O: JavaScript improved 24 percent on desktop, and 57 percent on mobile.

10.25 pm: Google announces new version of Samsung Galaxy s4 with pure Android

OK so this is huge. Google has just announced a Samsung Galaxy S4 phone which will be on par with its flagship Nexus devices. It is a pure Android platform with no Samsung skin on top of the OS, will get updates immediately just like the Nexus devices and will be available direct from the Android store.

The device will be available straight from Google play and will apparently cost $649. That was greeted with a lot of silence.

10.15 pm: Google announces Google Play Music all access

Massive revamp for Google music, in what is clearly an attempt to take on iTunes. The service gives users accesses million track from store in addition to what you have uploaded on to your personal Google music collection.

According to Google’s Chris Yerga, “It uses power of Google to figure our what you want to listen to.” so its very similar to services like Jango which figures out what kind of music you want to listen to by the one track or artist you choose to listen to. Or according to Yerga, radio without rules.

There is also a feature called Listen Now which, depending on what music you have uploaded or listened to, suggests music you will enjoy and creates automatic radio stations.

All access will cost $9.99 a month, but will free for a 30 day trial period. It is launching in the US right away, and will be available for $7.99 if you sign up by June.

10.08 pm: Google woos developers with a bunch of new tools for developers

Google has introduced five new services to help app developers which has them all clapping and whistling.

They are as follows:

optimization – offers you insights on what you can do to improve your apps
app translation service – gives you professional translation services, shows a list of translation companies. Developers pick one that fits their budget and one week later it comes back and you can download it from the developer console.
Referral tracking – makes it easy to understand which ads are most effective, also engagement metrics from Google analytics in the developer console. All metrics in one place.
How to make money – simple tools to show how much money you make. New tab that gives summary of app revenue. Global and also country specific.
Beta testing and staged Rollouts.

Also in a huge relief, Google has improved search in Google Play.

9.54 am: Google just ramped up their gaming capabilities big time

Google has just ramped up their support for gaming and they have been really working on not just networking across Android devices, but also across platforms. The first of these is called Cloud save which saves user data across devices like player progression across devices.

They also announced APIs for achievements and leaderboards which integrates Google+ circles for players to increase friendly competition. Friendly…

The coolest part of course is that you can have cross platform experiences not just across Android devices, but also iOS and web so you can have cross platform gaming experiences.

Small blip though, because the ‘awesome’ multiplayer networking feature which was supposed to be demoed live doesn’t work. “This is not the most networking friendly room is it?”, says Barra before moving on swiftly.

9.50 pm: Google announces GCM features – Cloud messaging, upstream messaging and cross platform single sign on.

9.47 pm: Three new APIs announced for Google Maps

Some pretty cool APIs are annouced for Google Maps which have all the developers very very excited. The first is called, “Fused Location Provider” which uses sensors to find location with a new low-power location mode that uses less than one percent of battery per hour.

The second is called Geo fencing – which allows developers to build virtual fences around geographic locations – you can have up to 100 geo services per app. The third is activity recognition – helps users track their physical activities. It automatically figures out if users are working or driving.

9.38 pm: Android has 900 million activations, says Google

Pichai begins by saying that Android has now reached 900 million activations to cheers, but jokes that they have a long way to go, because there are 7 billion people in the world. He then shows a map of countries where penetration is less than 10 percent and yup, India is right up there.

However he says that the platform is growing very very fast.

More incredible stats now: 48 billion apps have been downloaded from Google Play.

9.33 pm: And it begins! Senior Vice President Vic Gundotra takes the stage

It’s not really about us. It;s about you the developers. When we say thank you we really mean it, says Google’s Vice President Vic Gundotra in a clear attempt to schmooze up to the developers who are responsible for developing all the apps that make the Android platform so popular.

Over now to Google’s wonderkid Sundar Pichai who is in charge of Android. He is talking about personal computing and devices. “It’s a multiscreen world. It’s all about smart displays with computing which all have sensors with incredible power”, he said.

9.30 pm: Everyone is wearing Glass at I/O 2013

We’re literally minutes away now. And we have a bit of a ‘mood’ update from the folks at TechCrunch:

“There are no less than eight people wearing Glass within ten feet of me. It’s like living in a magical world where people aren’t hypercritical of glass.”

9.12 pm: Android 4.3 leaked ahead of conference?

The conference has not even started yet, but it seems that Google has already <ahem> accidentally leaked its new Android OS and it will be called 4.3. The Verge said that it had caught a glimpse of it in the search results of the Google developer website.

According to the report:

“Mention of the next iteration of Google’s mobile operating system has since been removed (it was live just long enough to be cached here), but it’s a safe bet that we’ll see the next version of Android at today’s big event.”

9.00 am: New Android OS, updated Nexus tablet on the cards?

Google’s I/O conference is scheduled to start in a short while, and we’re waiting to see what Google is going to unveil this time around.

Google hasn’t spelled out what its executives will discuss during this year’s opening keynote, which is expected to last for nearly three hours. Given that Google Glass is now being tested by the developers who bought the “Explorer” edition, the device might not be one of the featured attractions.

It’s a safe bet the spotlight at some point Wednesday will shine on Android, which already has been activated on more than 750 million devices around the world. Google gives the mobile operating system away, making it easier for gadget makers to sell their devices at prices below Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad.

GoogleIOScreengrab1Android has helped Google make more money because its search engine and other services, including maps, are usually built into the devices that rely on the software. That tie-in drives more visitors to Google, giving the company more opportunities to sell the advertising that generates most of its revenue.

Much of the speculation about the conference, dubbed “Google I/O,” has centered on a possible upgrade to the Nexus 7, a mini-tablet that debuted at last year’s event as an alternative to the similarly sized Kindle Fire made by Inc. and the larger iPad. A few months after the Nexus 7 came out, Apple released the iPad Mini to counter the threat posed by Google’s entrance into the market.

The next version of the Nexus 7 is expected to feature a much faster processor and a higher resolution display screen while maintaining the same $199 sales prices. If that turns out to be true, it could siphon even more sales from the iPad Mini, which starts at $329.

There’s also speculation that Google will unveil a music-streaming service that would allow Android users to listen to their favorite songs and artists for a monthly fee. Google has long been rumored to be in talks with music labels to work out the licensing rights for a service that would compete with Spotify, Internet radio provider Pandora Media Inc. and other outlets that stream digital music to Internet-connected computers, smartphones and tablets.

Another Google-designed phone under the Nexus brand is also a possibility. Google also could use the occasion to introduce a model made by its unprofitable Motorola Mobility subsidiary.

A sneak peak at the next generation of Android, code named “Key Lime Pie,” could be in the offing, too.

Other potential product introductions include laptops running on Android or another Google operating system based on the company’s Chrome web browser.

Google also may provide more insights into the popularity of Google Plus, a social networking alternative to Facebook that launched nearly two years ago. Google Plus had more than 135 million active users at the end of last year, based on Google’s last public disclosure about activity on that network. That left Google Plus far behind Facebook, which boasts 1.1 billion active users.

In an attempt to persuade more people to use its social networking service more frequently, Google has promised to keep adding tools that aren’t available on Facebook.

On other fronts, Google is believed to be working on a digital gaming center that could be unveiled on Wednesday. Getting into gaming would give Google an opportunity to participate in one of the most popular activities on mobile devices.

Reportng by Ayeshea Perera,