Google previews Android L, Android Wear and Android one at I/O 2014

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Today, Google kicked off its annual I/O conference in San Francisco. Among the key announcements were the Android L developer preview, Android one and a much more in depth look at the new software for smart watches: Android Wear.

Android one

You might not see much of this, but Google today announced a new program named Android one. In essence, it’s a way to ensure a certain standard of hardware quality, and software compatibility and performance. So smaller third party manufacturers in developing markets like Asia, Russia, Africa and South America can source the right components for their devices and know that they’ll run smoothly and as intended on their devices.

Android one will also provide something close to stock Android, allow Google Play auto-installs and automatic updates. But Google’s biggest motivation here is creating the ability to have affordable hardware with  a consistent experience across third party phones.

Android L

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There was one distinct thread to follow through today’s entire announcement: Material Design. Android L is core to this experience. But it offers one consistent experience across all Android devices. It doesn’t matter if its desktop, tablet, mobile, wearable or even Android Auto (the newly announced in-car UI).

Material Design has a couple of key features. Firstly, apps and notifications will be built upon an adjusting paper/card-like user interface. It offers up realistic lighting and shadow effects on layers of apps. Switching between apps, and layers within apps is all fluid and snappy. Even pressing icons and buttons on screen creates a natural and attractive animated buttons. All added with the aim of making using Android easier, and more intuitive.

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As a whole, Android L comes shipped with over 5,000 new APIs, most of them were completely ignored today, and many just got really brief mentions. Android L also comes with a new phone dialer, contact list and new version of other default apps like Chrome, all built upon the “Material” program. There are new lock screen notifications which can expand, or be dismissed, and organize themselves based on priority. You will also get new dismissible notifications on screen when you’re using any other app. You can simply swipe it off the screen or accept a call – for instance.

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Unlocking your phone with Android L is also a little more contextually aware. For instance, if it can detect your Android Wear smartwatch, it knows that you are the person trying to unlock the phone and so it won’t ask you to input a PIN or pattern unlock. If it doesn’t detect your watch, it will ask you for PIN/pattern code unlock.

For the more geeky among you, you’ll be glad to know Google’s also been hard at work behind the scenes to make sure Android L makes the most of your device’s CPU, GPU and battery. The ART platform is 64-bit compatible, and can bring console-quality graphics to your tablet or phone. Also, Project Volta has some really cool code that creates a detailed battery historian, a “JobScheduler API” which enables developers to create a set of tasks based on certain criteria. Like – Download updates when phone is plugged in. And, similar to the LG G3′s built-in battery saving tech, it can reduce screen refresh rate depending on what you’re doing.

There’s a lot more to Android L that we weren’t shown. And I can’t help but feel that the unannounced stuff is going to make a massive difference to developers, which will eventually feed down to the consumer experience.

Android L developer preview will be available from tomorrow. It’s going to be launched as public release this fall (most likely alongside the next Nexus phone).

Other Stuff – Android Wear, Auto, Chromebook and TV

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Alongside Android L, Google also showed off more in-depth demos of its Android Wear smartwatch platform and announced that the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live will be available later today from the Google Play Store. Moto 360 will be available later this summer.

We also saw a new in-car experience named Android Auto. Basically, iOS in the Car but for Android. It creates a custom on-screen user interface in your car’s main dash screen, controlled from your phone. But like I mentioned earlier, it’s clear that all these different screen sizes: Car, Watch, TV, Chromebook and more will have the same Material Design.

On the Chromebook side, Google’s done more to make a continuous experience between your phone on your Chromebook. You can answer calls, see incoming notifications, and bring mobile phone applications to your Chromebook.

All in all, in one event at Google I/O, the company has made a strong move to take over your entire lives. In a good way. If it has its way, it will have its ecosystem wrapped around you wherever you go. Whether it’s on your TV or your watch, Android is there.

 

 

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  • ye

    It looks really nice. I hope they integrated Project Moonshine.

    • Kidney_Thief

      They showed several Project Moonshine app icons during the keynote, so signs are pointing to yes.

      • Jay Holm

        Hmm…I don’t recall reading about “Project Moonshine”…

        • Kidney_Thief

          This post has all the information you need: http://www [dot] androidpolice [dot] com/2014/04/14/rumor-googles-android-app-icons-to-get-a-moonshine-makeover/

  • Deadeye37

    I’m really excited for what I see. Now I’ll have to postpone buying a car for a few years so that I can get an Android Auto car (used).

  • donnybee

    Lots of focus on software design. Drop down notifications, matching status bar, flat design, lockscreen notifications!

    Wait, haven’t I seen this before…?

    • steveb944

      Yeah it’s been available through third party launchers for a while now.

      • izick

        Yeah… For some reason I thought the first response would be iOS. But if I’m remembering correctly Windows Phone had some of those first. And my notifications have been “drop-down” for awhile. And I’m pretty sure I’ve used custom roms and third-party launchers that have had this before iOS 7 even was born in a lab somewhere.

        • donnybee

          Yeah, that actually was where I was going with it haha. But you’re right, Windows Phone was really the first with the flat design. Now everyone will have it, so Windows Phone better come up with something.. It’s great to see that Android will finally have more design to it. I hope this helps reduce the demand for super-specs, but we’ll see. Another unfortunate drawback is that not many phones will see this update.. Or if they do, it will be so far down the road that someone will just want a new phone anyway. And what about all the custom overlays like TouchWiz? They’re getting some good ideas, but Android will take years to eliminate the fragmentation issues they’ve caused themselves.

          In the meantime, I’ll stick with iOS! Android intrigues me, and I’ve owned a few of them, but until they have the same universal refinement that iOS has, I’ll choose the latter. To each their own! I would love to play with this though.

  • BlackJu

    I like the contextually aware unlocking. It’s like an NFC ring but better. But Android TV? Nope, not falling for that one again.

    “the company has made a strong move to take over your entire lives. In a good way. If it has its way, it will have its ecosystem wrapped around you wherever you go.” Remember always that nothing is free and you are the product.

    • yeah right

      This android TV is fundamentally different from the rest… Its no longer an off shoot of Android. Its the main part.

  • Raiterio Patterson

    New version of Android? Lemonhead? Limeade? Lollipop? C’mon mane….

    • Jay Holm

      I was wondering the same thing! Lillipop??? It can’t be just “L”!

    • Ryanide

      Lemon Meringue Pie? Lol

    • bb

      I know this isn’t part of the dessert theme they had going, but “Lifestyle” seems to sum up how I feel about this proliferation of Android into all the things. (…which I am completely OK with!)

  • Justin Merithew

    I’m hoping Tmo gets some more stock-ish Android devices, because I really like where the look is going. I know they have the Nexus 5, and it’s not a bad phone, but I realy like WiFi calling. My hope is that they have a carrier branded version of the Moto X+1 when it’s released. Tmo is the only carrier where I like having the “bloatware”.

  • Jay Holm

    Also is Android “L”, going to be 4.5, or 5.0?

  • ImGuest

    Finally, colors! Previous stock Android were so gloomy, boring, grayscale! Android L looks fresh and modern. Can’t wait to play with it.

  • Jimmy James

    HTC released 4.4.3 a month ago to the Developer Edition phones. When is T-Mobile going to provide that for my HTC One? September? 4.4.4 is going out to Nexus phones right now.

    • PiCASSiMO

      Yes.. both of our Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 got the 4.4.4 update OTA yesterday (06/25).

    • superg05

      your comparing two different editions ask htc unless it has been released on other carriers

  • JB

    Lots of this stuff is already available on custom ROMs on XDA. I use Mahdi Rom for my N5 and I love lockscreen notifications, hove is also nice.

  • JB

    Anyone who has a NEXUS 5 (I repeat NEXUS 5 ONLY) and wants to give the Android L preview release a whirl go here:

    http://forum.xda-developers.com/google-nexus-5/development/rom-n5-l-developer-preview-t2796003

    Looks like the devs already have a root access working.

  • tlev

    Kit Kat sucks,what is the name of the next platform? And when can we expect it to arrive?