10 highlights from Google's 2014 I/O conference

Want to know what you missed for Google's I/O developers conference Wednesday? Here is a look at some of the biggest announcements.

Google I/O 2014

Android kicked off its annual I/O developers conference Wednesday with a jam-packed two-and-a-half hour keynote. A big theme of this year's conference was bringing Android functionality to a myriad of devices, everything from your smartwatch to your car, and it didn't stop there. Chromecast received some updates, and Google made it clear it was serious about being a player in the enterprise. Here's a look at some of the highlights from this year's keynote.

For more information, check out Google I/O condensed: The 33 most important things to know

Android One

Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps, started I/O by announcing the program Android One, which has the goal of bringing low priced, high-quality Android phones to 1 billion people. The first handsets from the program will debut in India and will feature a 4.5-in. screen, dual SIM, SD card slots and FM radio. Google is partnering with Micromax, Carbon and Spice on the venture. 

The phones will have stock Android software that will be updated automatically through Google Play. Google is also helping handset makers reach the goal of sub-$100 phones by releasing reference designs.


One of the biggest developments of the day was the announcement of "L,"  the next Android operating system. The OS features hundreds of updates and new features. Some of those include not being prompted to enter your PIN to unlock your phone if you are connected to a trusted Bluetooth device or Wi-Fi network. Users will be able to launch apps from within web links.

Google also stressed the new look of the OS and something it called "material design," which is meant to unify the look of Android across devices and also emphasize the most important items on users' screens. Shown here is the new look of notifications, web search and recently viewed apps and websites on L.

Android Wear

Google officially demoed Android Wear at I/O with two new smartwatches, the LG G and the Samsung Gear Live (The Moto 360 will be available in a few months). 

Android Wear smartwatches immediately sync with your phone, displaying any number of relevent notifications and have voice-control options. As developers get their hands on them, the possibilities are endless. At I/O, Google showed how you can use a smartwatch to order a pizza, follow a recipe or get a cab. 

Perhaps the best part for developers is that they won't have to create separate Android Wear apps -- when an app is installed on a phone and the watch is connected, the  app is automatically installed and updated on the watch.

Android Auto

Google also announced Android Auto, bringing the power of Android to your car. Google looked at what people do most often in their car and focused on bringing that functionality to users in a voice activated interface. Google stressed that one of the benefits of this will be to keep users safe. 

Google showed how users can get directions, control their music and communicate with friends and family, all using Android Auto. And even though it feels as though it is part of the car, the apps are actually being run on your smartphone.

Android TV

Google is also bringing Android functionality to your living room with Android TV, a software system that will be integrated into some TVs, including the 2015 HD line from Sony and Sharp. Google emphasized this was not a new platform, but that it was giving TVs the same level of attention it gives to phones and tablets.

Google TV will integrate a number of apps and other services from Google Play onto your television. Google search will be tailored for your television, and, of course, you can use voice control. It will allow for multiplay games cross multiple devices and have casting capabilities, like the Chromecast.


Speaking of Chromecast, the $35 streaming media device has some updates. Now users no longer have to be on the same Wi-Fi network as the Chromecast to use it (this is opt-in, so you always have control over who casts to your TV). For  the many hours when you're not using your TV, you can now set personal photos as the background, making your TV the largest picture frame in your house. Don't want to use personal photos? You can also choose art, news or weather to as the background to your TV when it's not in use.

Android/Chromebook cross-functionality

Soon, your Chromebook will be able to receive notifications or run apps from your Android phone. Getting a call or text on your phone? It will display on your Chromebook. It will even tell you when your phone's battery is running low. You can also run apps, like Vine, Evernote and Flipboard from your phone to your Chromebook. 

Android profiles

As part of the "L" operating system, Android phones will be getting separate profiles, so you can keep your personal and work data separate, increasing security for enterprise data. 

The added security seems to be part of Google's attempt to make Android phones more relevant for business. In another big step, users will be able to make edits to native Microsoft Word documents within GoogleDocs. Google is also offering users unlimited storage space with Google Apps for Business. 

Google fit

Google is also jumping on the fitness bandwagon with Google Fit. The service is  offered as a single place for users to store all their fitness-related data. Google Fit apps will use sensors on phones and wearables to track any number of health- related categories. Google already has a number of partners, such as Nike, Adidas and RunKeeper.

Google Cloud Dataflow

Google Cloud Dataflow is a cloud computing service for managing and analyzing live data. With Dataflow, users can create data pipelines that will then process and analyze the data. Dataflow is designed to help companies manage massive amounts, even petabytes, of data. It allows for both batch processing of data that has already been collected and stream processing, which analyzes data in near real time.


Perhaps not the most important takeaway from this year's I/O, but at the beginning of the keynote,  Google's Sundar Pichai pointed out that more than 93 million selfies are taken on Android phones every day, and about a third of them are duck faces. 

If you want to catch up on anything not covered here, check out our live blog of the event, or our continuing coverage of all things Google

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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