After a month dominated by Apple’s introduction of iOS 6 and Microsoft’s surprise airing of the Surface tablet, it’s Google’s turn to take the stage at Google I/O 2012 in order to share a vision of the future of computing, and we’ll be providing live coverage from the Wednesday morning keynote here.
We’ll be updating this post periodically throughout the morning as Google’s day unfolds starting at 9:30 a.m. PT. We expect Android news to dominate the first day, and make sure to read Kevin Tofel’s predictions for what the show might have in hand for Android developers and users. We also expect news on Google TV (Janko Roettgers runs down those possibilities here) and Google’s answer to the trend of enterprise computing delivered through the cloud (Om Malik got the drop on Google’s cloud services plans here).
Make sure to come back throughout the morning for our take on the day’s news. This page will automatically update every five minutes starting at 9:30 a.m.
Update: The morning’s events are over, but that’s just part of what’s in store over three days of Google I/O. Here are the stories to emerge from this morning’s announcements, and you can read the live blog below for a sense of how everything unfolded.
- Jelly Bean: What you need to know about Android 4.1
- Here’s what Google’s Nexus Q home device is all about
- Google’s hot new tablet: Nexus 7 with Android 4.1
- With Google Now, Google search is getting ready for Project Glass
- Google wants developers to take a leap with Project Glass
- Google to merge Hangouts, Talk & Messenger
- Google App Engine gets more global
- Google I/O: Day One by the numbers
9:46 a.m: Well, for some unbelievable reason, Google decided to start the Google I/O keynote on time despite the fact that half to a third of the attendees were still outside the keynote hall (GigaOM included) so we’re just now settling in as Google is running down the new features of Android 4.1, code-named Jelly Bean. Several other announcements have already leaked out on the Google Play store. Hugo Barra of Google is running the show at the moment.
9:52 a.m.: Android has been known for its strong approach to notifications, and there are a few new things in Jelly Bean. Notifications can expand beyond the simple news that you’ve received a new e-mail or calendar appointment, to let you see more of the item. You can also now e-mail people from the notification, say if you’re running late for a meeting.
9:58 a.m.: New search shortcuts are being added to Jelly Bean. Voice search is one of those, it’s now “much faster” according to Barra and better at actually understanding what you’re trying to say. They’re very Siri-like, although the woman’s voice providing the answers is different and the tone used to activate the voice search has a slightly higher pitch than the one on Siri. Still, it’s the same idea: press a button, speak a search query, and have results returned. One advantage for Google might be its reliance on Google results instead of Wolfram Alpha, the engine behind Siri. We’ll see how this works in the real world, though.
10:04 a.m.: Barra is running through the other features of “Google Now,” which seems to be the name for this new set of capabilities. Traffic notifications have been improved so that your Android 4.1 phone will be able to notify you when traffic on your usual route is heavier than normal, so you can plan accordingly. It can tell you when the next train will arrive at a subway stop. Sports notifications will provide scores for your favorite teams based on your search history. And it also detects when you’ve left the country, and is able to show you the local time and the local currency. Here’s a rundown on some Google Now features from Janko Roettgers.
10:10 a.m. Android 4.1 will start rolling out to Galaxy Nexus users and via open-source channels in July, according to Barra. No word on whether or not older Nexus users will be eligible for the update. Google also plans to release a software-development kit, and perhaps in a nod to the fragmentation issue, Google will start releasing what it is calling a “platform development kit” for Android hardware partners to use in preparing for a new release. That will generally be available a few months before the actual platform release in the future, Barra said.
10:14 a.m.: Chris Yerga of Google is now on stage to talk about Google Play, formerly known as the Android Market. There are a few new features for developers: the first is app encryption. Starting with Android 4.1, paid apps will be encrypted before they hit a device. Another new feature is “smart app updates:” rather than having to make users download the entire installation file in order to update an Android app, users will just have to download the part that is new. That will work on apps dating back to Gingerbread, Android 2.3.
10:17 a.m.: New content is going to be available in Google Play, including new shows and movies for rent. Disney, Sony, Paramount, NBC Universal, and others are involved. And Hearst, Conde Nast, and Meredith are partnering with Google to deliver magazines through Google Play. This works on phones, tablets, or the Web.
10:20 a.m.: Barra comes back on stage to confirm what leaked out seemingly hours ago: the Nexus 7 tablet, developed in partnership with Asus and running Android 4.1. Check out Kevin Tofel’s story for more details.
10:25 a.m.: Yerga is back to show off the tablet display content, such as magazines and books. There will be a widget for Google Play content front and center on the device, which makes it pretty clear that Google envisions this tablet as a competitor to the Kindle Fire. Content discovery is also part of the announcement: users can set preferences for their favorite types of content in hopes of discovering new things.
Perhaps most significantly, Chrome is the standard browser on the Nexus 7. The first time Chrome is the default browser on a device according to Yerga.
10:28 a.m.: We’re now getting a demonstration of Google Maps on the new tablet, which brings up uncomfortable memories of Google’s hastily planned Google Maps event prior to Apple’s WWDC. If business owners participate, they can show indoor photos of their businesses through a link from Google Maps. And the other new features announced earlier this month–such as offline Maps support–will ship with the Nexus 7.
Google Currents, the company’s would-be Flipboard and Zite killer, is also getting an update. Google Translate is now available in Google Currents, which means you can read news articles from publications in other languages in your native language.
10:33 a.m.: Nexus 7 will cost $199, Barra said. Buyers will also get $25 in Google Play credits, and a few pieces of content, including the new Transformer movie and new editions of Popular Science. The tablet can be pre-ordered today, and will ship in mid-July.
10:37 a.m.: We were just treated to a video about Nexus Q, a Google project previously announced that resembles an Apple TV, Sonos or Roku box. Google designed both the hardware and software for the Nexus Q, which is a black sphere with a thin blue line at the equator. It will pull content off Google Play and bring it to your big-screen TV and play music.
10:44 a.m.: Google just demonstrated how Nexus Q can serve as a virtual DJ for visitors to your home, playing different songs from your music library or from theirs. It’s also a hub for movies, and we get to watch a few seconds of the new Transformers movie after enduring a few bad Transformers jokes. It seems like Android devices will be needed to control the Nexus Q remotely, which makes sense given that Google is definitely trying to build more of an ecosystem around Android at this keynote.
10:46 a.m.: Nexus Q will cost $299, and will ship in mid-July. Preorders can be placed today from the Google Play store. Here are the details on the device.
10:50 a.m.: Vic Gundotra is now out on stage to talk about Google+, which will be one year old tomorrow. After thanking developers for their Google+ support, Gundotra yielded the stage in favor of a video showing how the Hangouts feature worked. Apparently something went wrong, as Gundotra apologized for us missing the first part of the video: a common theme today, it would seem.
10:53 a.m.:150 million people are monthly active users of Google+, and 50 percent of those folks sign in daily, Gundotra said. Google now has more mobile users of Google+ than desktop users, he said, echoing the same issue that rival Facebook is struggling with during its first months as a public company. He announces Google+ for tablets, with one for both the iPad as well as Android tablets.
10:57 a.m.: Gundotra demonstrates the tablet app, which resembles the usual Google+ experience but has some tablet specific features like a navigation bar and new notifications. The Android version is available today, and the iPad version is “coming soon,” he said. The apps are basically identical. An updated Android smartphone version is also available today with some of the new features.
11:00 a.m.: Gundotra announces Google+ Events, a new feature of Google+ that lets users create and manage event invitations by adding themes and linking the events to Google Calendar. Event recipients don’t need to be Google+ users, but it doesn’t seem to work without Google Calendar.
11:06 a.m.: There are also some new features for organizing photos around events, allowing users to upload photos to Google+ both during and after the event. It’s apparently called “Party Mode.” The photos are organized in chronological order, and you can sort your photos by popularity, such as how many comments or “+1s” the photos received.
11:08 a.m.: Google co-founder Sergey Brin comes out, wearing the Google Goggles, to demonstrate the Google Glass project. Brin and several of his friends are wearing the glasses, except Brin is on stage and his friends are in an airship over San Francisco, getting ready to leap out of said airship.
11:10 a.m.: We’re basically watching a Google+ hangout between Brin and the jumpers, allowing attendees to see a bird’s-eye view of downtown San Francisco.
11:12 a.m.: It seems like everybody’s chute deployed, thankfully for Google’s lawyers. The jumpers are attempting to land on the roof of the Moscone Center West, where we’re all gathered. Everybody made it down safely, providing unique views of San Francisco on the way down. The jumpers passed off a package to a set of stunt bikers, who then passed the package to another gentleman who is apparently going to rappel down the face of the building. A set of bikers wearing the goggles then rode directly onto the stage to join Brin on stage.
11:20 a.m.: The whole stunt crew joined Brin on stage, leading to a bit of background on the ambitious Google Glass project.
11:26 a.m.: The latest prototype for Google Glass weighs less than a pair of regular sunglasses, according to the company. They’re showing off different frame styles that they’ve created. There are two broad areas that Google thinks this project will fulfill: communicating with images, and having rapid access to information.
Google is spending a lot time talking about how Glass can capture moments that you wouldn’t have otherwise recorded without being a distracting or without “technology getting in the way.”
11:30 a.m.: The keynote has bogged down into a discussion of how Google Glass may one day change the way that people relate to each other and gather information: it doesn’t sound like Google is ready to provide any kind of update on when this project will be ready for prime time.
11:35 a.m.: Brin notes that the use cases shown off during the keynotes — photos and videos — are just some of the things that wearable computers can do, even though Google has just focused on the Glasses project. Google will be allowing U.S. based Google I/O attendees to pre-order something called “Glass Explorer Edition,” which he’s taking pains to note is a beta hardware product. It will cost $1,500, and it will ship early next year, he said.
11:42 a.m.: Gundotra is back for the finale, nearly two hours after it first began. He’s sort of wrapping up the Google+ Events announcement, which nobody is going to remember from this keynote after Brin interrupted the party for the Google Glass demonstration. Barra also comes back with the Oprah moment: 6,000 I/O attendees are going to get a Galaxy Nexus phone and a Nexus 7 tablet, both loaded with Android 4.1. And everybody also gets a Nexus Q. There was much rejoicing. People applauded more for the free gifts than they did for the mind-blowing Google Glass demonstration.
11:44 a.m.: That’s it from Moscone West. Stay tuned for follow-up coverage on the day’s announcements as well as more coverage from Day 2 of Google I/O tomorrow, which is expected to focus on products like Chrome and Google TV.