Google’s annual developer conference is in full swing Tuesday morning in San Francisco, and it’s leading with one of its most prominent products: Android. Google announced that a total of 100 million Android devices have been activated since the project began, and phones are being activated at a rate of 400,000 a day, said Hugo Barra, director of Android product management for Google (NSDQ: GOOG). Stay tuned for more developments.
A live stream is available here. Updates:
Honeycomb 3.1: Google is planning to release an updated version of Honeycomb, it’s tablet-optimized Android version, starting today for owners of the Motorola (NYSE: MMI) Xoom tablet running on Verizon’s network. The new Honeycomb allows developers to take advantage of more options with Android widgets, such as stretching them both horizontally and vertically. Andritoid tablets will now also be able to work with many more USB input devices, including even game controllers. Android 3.1 will be coming to Google TV as well with access to the Android Market, giving developers another outlet for TV-optimized apps.
Ice Cream Sandwich: Later this year Google will release the next full version of Android with hopes of unifying smartphone and tablet versions.
Android Market Movies: Google will stream movies through the Android Market starting today for users, demonstrating the process at the show. Xoom tablets also have access to a new movies application that takes advantage of the larger screen, and movies can also be saved to devices through a process called “pinning.”
Music Beta By Google: As expected, Google showed off its music locker service, which for now is being called Music Beta. It’s actually a desktop application for both Windows and Mac that allows you to take music and playlists stored on your computer and move them to the Web, where they can be accessed through a browser. The service also has something called “instant mix,” which seems an awful lot like Apple’s Genius service inside iTunes. In fact, Paul Joyce of Google noted the Google service produces “a very ingenious playlist” with a wry smile. Google made sure to emphasize several times that the service doesn’t require cords to sync music, which of course Apple’s iTunes Store requires.
It launches in beta today, and will be opened up gradually to U.S. users but by invitation only. Users can upload 20,000 songs to the service, and it’s free “while it’s in beta,” Joyce said, which is interesting. Google I/O attendees will get invites.
Anti-Fragmentation: Barra annouced that Google is gathering key Android partners into a consortium that will do a better job of letting Android users know how long they can get Android updates, and when they’ll receive new updates. Verizon, HTC, Samsung, Sprint (NYSE: S), Sony-Ericcson, LG (SEO: 066570), Motorola, T-Mobile, Vodafone (NYSE: VOD), and AT&T (NYSE: T) are among early partners, and devices launched now will receive updates for 18 months if the hardware allows, Barra said. More to come on that later.
Open Accessory Project: Google plans to release an accessory development kit for hardware developers to create accessories that work with Android phones and tablets. They demonstrated how an exercise bike at the gym could allow you to use the bike to control a game, as well as a version of the Labyrinth game that was controlled by an Android tablet.
Android At Home: Google is working on ways to bring Android into home accessories, with plans to release a framework for developers working with things other than phones and tablets to use some of Android’s intelligence. It would also allow makers of those devices to send better notifications to Android devices: think the classic home automation applications such as turning on the lights from the phone, warning notifications if the furnace fails, and the like. It can work with the new music service to allow an Android phone or tablet to act as a remote control.
Oprah Moment: The new Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 announced at CTIA is the door prize at Google I/O 2011, which got more of a cheer from the crowd than anything else Google announced this morning combined.