Google I/O 2013, the company’s annual developer conference, will kick off soon with a massive 3-hour keynote. We’re on the scene and ready to liveblog the heck out of this thing.
News announced so far:
- Larry Page is sad, hopeful, and frustrated in his heartfelt Google I/O speech
- OK, Google, your conversational search is awesome as hell
- Maps rebuilt from the ‘ground up,’ iPad version coming this fall
- Google Play for Education could kill the iPad in schools
- Major design overhaul makes Google+ look a whole lot like Pinterest
- Hangouts, the best part of Google+, gets standalone iOS, Android, and Chrome apps
- Google Glass is for dorks — and for doctors
- Google Glass gets first news app for the ‘connected generation’
- Google gives mobile developers some massive love with 5 new money-making features
- Google’s latest Nexus phone is an unlocked Samsung Galaxy S4 with pure Android
- Google Chrome reaches milestone of 750M montly active users
- Google announces its Spotify competitor, Google Play Music ‘All Access’ — ‘radio without rules’
- Google releases location APIs that may hugely help fitness apps
- Google Play game services is a Xbox Live-like mobile network — and offers cross-platform gaming
- Google Play has 48B app installs, 2.5B in the last month alone
- 900M Android activations to date, Google says
And that’s it! Devs will pick up their Pixels at 2 p.m., Billy Idol is playing at the afterparty, and we’re left to ruminate on Hippie Larry’s musings between now and the afternoon sessions, which begin in 15 minutes.
Responding to Josh Constine’s question on tech in the developing world, Page says, “We need to make sure the prices make it down to [lower] levels. The smartphone you have today, two or three years from now will be in Africa or India, and that will be amazing.”
If we get more women involved, Page concludes, “There’s no question we’ll double the rate of progress in technology.”
Page on women in tech: “The only answer is, we have to start early and make sure we’re getting more young women and girls interested in technology.”
A glimpse at Google’s crazy new voice search.
Conclusion: Larry Page is a huge techno-hippie.
How can Google help improve health care? “We had Google Health, and we didn’t make that much progress with it. The primary obstacle was regulatory.”
An approximately 12-year-old kid just asked Page how he could help the world focus more on positivity, not negativity.
Page starts his answer with the law: “Many of our laws can’t keep up with the pace of change in technology. … Maybe more of us need to go into other areas, and in those areas, improve and understand technology.
Also: “We haven’t built mechanisms to encourage experimentation. There are a lot of things you can’t do because they’re illegal. … I like going to Burning Man. That’s a place where you can try out new things. But everybody doesn’t have to go.
“As technologists we should have some safe places where we can try out new things and try out their effect on people.
“We should launch things in a more humble way, and see what the effect is, and the doubts, as we go.”
Larry Page: “People are starving in the world, not because we don’t have enough food, but because we’re not organized. And computers are part of that.”
Is anyone else hearing this and thinking about the Girl at a Party You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With?
These rambling, unfocused answers might be the reason more CEOs don’t do Q&As at their keynotes.
Q: What advice would you give to the rising generation of technologists?
Page: “I think, for me, I actually try to use Google alot and I research things very deeply. … I think, not just really understand it, but also understand the crazy people around that.”
Page says he things Glass is more interesting to people “who have young kids. If you don’t have young kids — I don’t know. I have young kids.”
Q: What will the production numbers be for Glass for consumers?
Page: “I’d have to ask Sergey about that.” He went on to explain that the team is building the “minimal set of things, just for practical sake,” and then they can work on it for the next ten years.
“I think, part of the answer is that we don’t know.”
People lined up for Larry Page’s Q&A. Nice hat, bro.
“I think it’s pretty clear we want to deliver bits to your eyes,” Page said.
“What we really need are low-latency connections that operate at computer speed.”
Interesting: In Page’s worldview, a computer that isn’t mobile isn’t useful.
My knee-jerk reaction is to disagree, but remember the days of calling someone to Google something for you while you were out and about? Yeah, he’s got a point.
Someone from Provo, Utah asked what Page thinks fast-fiber Internet will lead to.
“As a computer scientist, I felt kind of sad we have all these computers out there, and they’re all connected to each other with a tiny-tiny-tiny little pipe,” he said.
When asked about freedom of speech issues, Page said “We’re working very hard making sure we’re protecting your private information.”
All this competition in the tech world makes Larry Page “sad.”
(Easy for him to say — his company is rapidly pushing into every corner of computing.)
Page: “I’m sad that the web probably isn’t as advancing as fast as it should be. … I’d like to see more open standards, more people getting behind things. …”
Next question: Are we ever going to see the web uplevel Android? They also asked what Page things about the future of the web.
Page: “I’ve personally been quite sad at the industry’s behavior around all these things.” He points to the lack of a unified instant messaging platform as one one example.
With two minutes between now and the official keynote end time and the Q&A in progress, I’m asking myself, “Is this it?” No big announcements this year, just small but interesting product updates for some key Google properties.
Page to Scoble, the first Q&A participant: “Robert, I really didn’t appreciate the shower picture.”
Page says one million people are watching this on YouTube right now.
It’s interesting to contrast Page’s measured, quiet, big-picture talk about the present, past, and future — with a Q&A, no less — with cofounder Sergei Brin’s bombastic, extreme sports spectacle from I/O last year.
Is this Larry Page’s “Steve Jobs” moment?
Man, this voice is really working for Page. It lends a huge amount of sympathy and emotion to his talk on how amazing technology is.
Talking about self-driving cars, Page says, “The average American probably spends 50 minutes commuting. Imagine if you got most of that time back to do other things. … Now, to get there, we need more people like you, more kids falling in love with science, more students graduating with science and engineering degrees.”
“Every story I read about Google, it’s us vs. some other company, or some other stupid thing. And I just don’t find that all that interesting. We should be building things that don’t exist. … Most important things aren’t zero-sum.”
“We as Google and as an industry are really only at one percent of what’s possible. … We’re still moving slow relative to the opportunities that we have. And some of that is due to the negativity.” Negativity is, in Page’s opinion, comparing Google’s work to the work of its competitors.
“The opportunities are tremendous. We haven’t seen this rate of change in computing in a long time — probably since the birth of personal computing.”
“Technology should do the hard work, so people can get on with the things that make them happiest in life.”
He’s talking about how amazing it is now that we all have mobile phones and can communicate with each other. How it’s amazing that a phone screen held in your hands is about the same apparent size as a TV across the room.
Recalling a family trip to a robotics conference, Page tells about how his dad had to fight to get him, an underage kid, into the show. He says it’s our (developers’) duty to fight to get people more interested in technology.
Page stepping up.
Larry is standing in front of a spinning view of the dark side of the Earth, speaking in a soft, hoarse voice about his dad and how he argued to get the young, underage Larry into a robotics conference.
Finally, Larry Page, the Silent CEO, takes the stage.
Preview available at Maps.google.com/preview
REAL TIME YOU GUYS.
Zoom out to see the whole Earth from space. Cloud cover is a real-time representation of what’s actually in the sky. Whoa!
Google Earth in the browser now shows clouds from space. In real time. It also shows nighttime lights around the world.
Anyone can now take a “Photo Sphere” (panorama) and upload it to Google Maps, where it will become available to others to view.
The new Maps includes 3D photographic imagery for some locations. They’re showing off St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome — inside and out, using user-uploaded photos to show the indoor photo tour. “This is the Google Earth experience right there on the browser.”
In-store map details have also been improved.
Slick new “scheduler” shows timelines for travel-times using different modes of transportation and departure times, so you can compare side-by-side.
Lots more details in the local map view.
One of the key things about the new Google Maps is that it’s entirely based on vector imagery and delivered via WebGL. Translation: Maps will download & display much more quickly. The app can be much smarter about displaying labels for locations (not just pins) and adding street names in real time.
The new Google Maps looks a lot cleaner.
We’re looking at a next generation of Google Maps that’s better designed and learns about locations that you like. Pics incoming.
On phones, the updated Maps will be able to reroute destinations automatically as well as alert you of traffic incidents.
Google product guys/designers say the new Google Maps is going to be customized for each user. It’ll contain “immersive imagery” and will be much more interactive. From what we can see so far, it looks like … a map. A map with more text, not just place names, and with pretty floating cards instead of a separate pane for reading more information or seeing images from a specific place.
A look at the new discovery experience in Google Maps for tablets.
Key new features for navigation and directions: Live coverage and avoidance of traffic accidents (a lot like SigAlert, for those familiar with this SoCal staple).
Google Maps for mobile is getting some updates. For Android and iOS, you’ll see a new design, as previously discussed. Businesses will all have a 5-star rating system. Google bought Zagat a while ago, and now it’s integrating Zagat data into Maps in a new way.
More than one million websites use Google Maps APIs, says McClendon. A billion people visit these sites each week, generating more traffic than Google Maps proper.
Google Maps finally has data on North Korea thanks to Map Maker. Underwater Street View is also showing users really cool images from places like the Great Barrier Reef.
Brian McClendon is onstage now talking about the future of Google Maps. We’ve seen a preview of a new Maps interface; let’s see what we learn during the last 45 minutes of this neverending keynote!
The improved voice search looks helpful on mobile, too. You can say “Show me photos from our New York trip” and Google will be able to accurately find them from you Google+ uploads.
Singhal loves to talk about the starship Enterprise voice-search experience with the ship’s computer. Google’s new voice search is a lot like that; Google can understand your intention and needs from one query to the next. You can ask, “Where is Santa Cruz?” and “How do I get there?” back to back, and the search engine knows which “there” you’re talking about.
Google Now is getting new cards for public transit, reminders, TV shows, music, video games, and books.
Speech recognition and natural language processing are two of Google’s big focus areas. Today, Chrome on the desktop (and mobile) is getting speech recognition. “You can sit back, relax, and say, ‘OK, Google,’ ask your question, and have Google speak back the answer.”
Statistics are going to be integrated into Knowledge Graph. Google will also “anticipate” related queries and will show related statistics. Knowledge Graph is launching in Polish, Turkish, and simplified and traditional Chinese.
Singhal, looks like he’s up to somethin’.
And now, Singhal is talking about Star Trek. Toldja!
Amit Singhal is Google’s search demigod and a huge Star Trek fan. How did we know that? We know. He’s onstage now talking about “the end of search as we know it.”
Here’s a fun one: Google+ will now automatically create animated GIFs of photos that were taken around the same time/place and from the same angle. Other “auto-awesome” features include collages, HDR, smile-finder (takes a selection of group photos and makes a new image with every group member smiling), and panoramas — all created automatically in the background and added to your album.
Google’s many editing tricks look like a more subtle version of Instagram. Definitely fills a need for people who don’t have time to tweak their photos.
Stop this ride, Google. I wanna get off.
The before/after examples for Google+ photo enhancement look heavy-handed and kinda cheesy. Remember, all the contrast tricks in the world will not make you a good photographer.
Your move, Flickr.
Gogole+ photos is also getting photo enhancing called Auto Enhance, which takes care of noise, tonal distribution, skin softening, etc.
How Google views storing full-sized photos vs the competitors.
The new Google+ “highlight” feature “can pick the best pictures for you,” says Gundotra. So you upload your 2,000 wedding pics, and Google tosses out blurry pics, duplicates, poor exposure, etc. It can also recognize landmarks, people’s faces (not creepy! Swear!), and general aesthetics.
Google+ is HUGE among photographers, so an update to the Google+ photo experience seems in line with how people use the service. The shutterbugs are getting a cloud-camera connection to make storing images (and editing them) faster and better.
Hangouts has always been the most interesting aspect of Google+. It’s about time it got a chance to shine on its own.
It also looks like it’s focusing more on text and picture chats now too, similar to Tango.
Is this a big surprise? Hangouts has been one of the most popular parts of Google+; it deserved a breakout. Google+ itself is increasingly becoming an invisible login/identity system. I doubt Google really cares about Google+ as a social network per se.
The big update to Hangouts is a new standalone app for desktop, iOS, and Android. Gundotra says, “Technology can just go away and people can focus on what makes them happiest, just hanging out.”
“Frankly, even Google’s own services have been fragmented and confused at times,” Gundotra said. He wants to “fill in the boxes” to help tech go away.
Gundotra is going on and on about how Google believes computers should get out of your way. Google Glass, a COMPUTER ON YOUR FACE, says hello.
On the content side, Google’s adding hashtags to posts automatically, so you can’t choose for yourself whether or not you want to look like a social media douchebag. #smdouche They’ll also recommend related hashtags when you’re browsing around.
Actually the new Google+ stream looks A LOT like Pinterest. You can always witch to single column, Gundotra says.
The Google+ stream will now have multiple columns. It looks an awful lot like Facebook, but with three columns instead of two on the desktop.
“We’re introducing 41 new features,” says Vic. New stream, new Hangouts, new photos. … Sounds like a whole bunch of relatively small updates that add up to a lot of polish.
Moving forward, it’s time for Google+ updates next with our old pal Vic Gundotra.
Google is continuing its drive to put Chromebooks in schools. We’re watching a video about Chromebooks in developing areas now. Pichai says, “This is what the journey of computing is about. What we’re doing in education … we can do for people everywhere, the other 5 billion people on the planet.”
I just have to say: We’re halfway through the keynote, and there’s been no really big consumer launches. A big departure from last year, when we got device after device. Even if they were just prototypes, they had a lot of wow factor that everyone who knows about Google could relate to.
Google Play for education is launching in the fall, but Google will be accepting dev app submission this summer.
Teachers will be able to push books to Android tablets easily.
I don’t have much faith in Google as a product company, but it is better positioned to help fix education than Apple. (Google’s method also won’t involve closed systems, a big plus.)
On the education side, the company’s launching Google Play for Education. It looks like it’s pre-populated with learning apps with categories for grade level and subject matter. The idea is to make it more practical for educators to use Android mobile devices in schools.
The big Oprah “You Get A Car! You Get A Car” moment is here: We’re all getting Pixels. “Wooooo” goes the audience.
Here’s the Chrome racing game. Seriously cool.
Whoa, the racing track continues across all of device’s screens. Using websockets to do this.
We’re watching a Chrome game, “Racer,” running across several different types of devices at once. That’s pretty cool.
The web app toolkit is a pretty, flat UI set. It’s got components for tablets, phones, and desktop web. It’s not ready yet, but Google is asking early adopter developers to come to a special session on Thursday.
Web Components are a big part of what Google is talking about today, at least from the developer side. “It’s still very early, but the vision for it is clear … and elegant UI that works across all form factors.”
It sounds unsafe, but we all need a better way to buy stuff directly through our phones. Chrome’s new payment info system could be huge.
Google is now saving and syncing payment information across all devices with the HTML5 payment form spec. Should make mobile shopping easier.
“Beyond just making web pages faster, we want to make things faster and simpler for users.”
Google sees an average of about 54% data compression using the SPDY web protocol.
Chrome for Mobile is getting its own data compression proxy. Watch out, Onavo.
YouTube will start supporting VP9 later this year. Just put that one in your back pocket.
VP9, a new video codec, can make a 125MB video look as good as a 344MB H.264 video. Google is seeing about a 64% reduction in size typically.
Google visualizing the complexity of the web. Nice background.
If this Web GL demo was going up against the Wii in 2006, Nintendo might be worried. Slightly.
Pichai’s showing off a Hobbit game running in Chrome using WebGL. It looks purty.
“Gee whiz” demo time: Pichai and another Googler are showing off HTML5/rendering engine tricks on a Nexus tablet. Honestly, the graphics aren’t that amazing compared to other mobile web demos we’ve seen from indie devs focused on mobile web or organizations like Mozilla.
Pichai says a lot of features from Chrome on desktop are coming to Android. That’s a good thing.
Pichai says the $249 Samsung Chromebook has been a top-selling laptop on Amazon for 170-plus of the 200 days since its launch. But when he brings up the Chromebook Pixel, he isn’t saying anything about sales.
Chromebook news: “We’re going to have a lot to talk about later this year,” says Pichai. So, no news on the hardware front, it seems.
Pichai’s talking about the Chromebook Pixel. (Full disclosure: I hate the Chromebook Pixel.)
Chrome’s growth is pretty insane.
“We think we can do for the mobile web what we did for the desktop app,” says Pichai.
Pichai says Chrome has 750 million active users.
Pichai’s back onstage. Android news is done. Time for Chrome updates.
The Nexus-fied S4 will be on sale for $649.
Google will offer an unlocked version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 with PURE Android. Bootloader unlocked, will be available on the Google Play store. It’s an S4 with Nexus features!
If you start a trial by June 30, you’ll pay only $7.99 a month.
All Access is priced at $9.99 a month in the U.S., will have a 30-day free trial. Launching today in the U.S. Rolling out to other countries soon.
A new feature, Listen Now, shows you music you’ll love. “With Listen Now there’s always a great selection of music available to me from my library and All Access, and every day it surprises me.”
The radio generates a list of tracks, which you can easily swipe away and reorder. “This is radio without rules. It’s as lean-back as you want it, or as interactive as you want it.”
“Anything that I’m listening to in All Access I can instantly turn into a radio station.” Just like Spotify and Pandora.
Personalization seems key. The service shows recommended and featured music. There are also curated playlists, just like Spotify.
Yerga announced Google Play Music All Access, a “uniquely Google” way of doing a music service.
“What if we gave you access to millions of tracks in our store, in addition to your personal tracks?” … “A music service that’s about music, and the technology fades into the background.”
“Yes, mobile devices give us more choices than ever before, but they don’t help us discover music we love.”
“Music unites us. It’s universal,” said Google Play’s Chris Yerga.
Starting today, Google Play will highlight apps designed specifically for tablets.
Now we’re talking Google Play updates. The revamped Play isn’t just about looks, says a Googler, it’s also about improving discoverability.
A look at the new Android IDE
New Android IDE, called Android Studio, has an impressive preview function. You can see how your app will look on a bunch of different screen sizes — and in different language-specific version — with real-time updates as you tweak the code. Pretty nifty anti-frangmentation tool.
A scene from waiting in line. Dylan Tweney vs. Jolie O’Dell.
Also, hooray! We have images now!
Ellie Powers (Play product manager) is onstage talking about the Google Play Developer Console. It’s getting five new features: Optimization tips, an app translation service, referral tracking. …
Now we’re looking at a new Android IDE based on IntelliJ.
Multiplayer matchup demo ain’t working at all. Sad face.
New launch for game devs: a new set of APIs called Google Play game services. The package includes Cloud save (to save game progress across devices), achievements, and leaderboards (powered by Google+ circles). These will be available for Android, iOS, and web.
That’s an error message plenty of Android users should be familiar with. It definitely hurts more in a huge live demo, though.
“Unfortunately, Google Play Services has stopped working.” Ouch.
Barra is showing off Google Play’s new gaming API. Better multiplayer matchup looks like a killer new feature. Also, true cross-platform gaming!
Geofencing has been around for a while now, but it could see more adoption with a simple API from Google.
Google Cloud Messaging (for pushing data from servers to Android apps) updates: 60% of Android apps use GCM, and it’s delivering 17 billion messages per day. GCM is now part of Google Play services. As of today, it supports persistent connections, has support for upstream messaging (devs in the audience say “woooooah”), and has a new API for syncing notifications (standing friggin’ ovation).
New APIS for Google Play services: The Fused Location Provider is a super low-power tool. The second API is Geofencing (defining virtual fences and setting triggers and actions). The third new location API is Activity Recognition can automatically determine whether the user is walking, biking, or driving a car.
Google Play services update: We’re gettin’ three new locations APIs.
Barra’s talking about Maps APIs now. “Location is a key input to so many apps. The Google Maps API is of course part of this.”
BREAKING: Barra is wearing a normal watch. Just sayin’.
In the past 4 months, Google has paid out more cash to devs than in all of 2012, Barra says.
Hugo Barra (Android product management VP) has taken the stage to talk about Google Play, which has just crossed 48 billion app installs.
Pichai: “There are more than 7 billion people on this planet, so we have a long way to go.” He highlights Russia and parts of South America and Africa as low-penetration geographic areas.
Android update: A year ago, Google celebrated 400 million Android activations. Today, that figure stands at 900 million.
A year ago Google celebrated over 400 million activations since Android. Cue a dramatic video to reveal this year’s number.
Pichai says Chrome is “the most popular browser in the world.”
Hey this crowd really seems to like Android.
Pichai: “We are very fortunate at Google to have two platforms, two large open platforms, two fast growing platforms, two scalable platforms completely designed for developers like you to build amazing experiences — Android, and Chrome.”
Pichai is showing off that photo from St. Peter’s Basilica showing the difference in mobile usage between 2005 and 2013.
Pichai: “Most of you in this audience lived through the PC revolution.”
Google’s Vic Gundotra kicked things off, now Android/Chrome head Sundar Pichai is on stage.
We’ll have images up here soon; our live blog is having issues.
Things are kicking off, the crowd is cheering like a bunch of crazy people. We’re looking at a stylish video showing off some stylish uses of Google’s tech.
Google’s DJ seems to be having fun: Current track is Beastie Boys mashed up with M83.
We’re hearing that Android 4.3 will be unveiled today. More on that soon. We’ve also seen a teaser for a new version of Google Maps.
After hours — literally, hours — of waiting in various lines, the nearly 6,000 attendees are slowly filing into the main stage room at Moscone West. Lots of Glass-wearers, lots of excitement, but no one really knows exactly what to expect today. Unlike I/Os past, we don’t get the impression yet that Google’s planning to release major new hardware or software today. But we’re staying mum on predictions and waiting to hear what company execs have to say in the keynote, which will start in 15 minutes.