This year, Google added and enriched the connective tissue between the different Android permutations and devices. The focus is on creating an ecosystem where all devices play well together and your experience isn’t limited to a particular setting or device.
Here’s a video Google released yesterday that shows the multi-screen world that they are going for:
I’m already using Android for phone and tablet and I have a ChromeCast, so seeing new features makes me happy. Below I give some thoughts on where the announcements might take users in the not-so-distant future.
Android Apps on Chromebooks
Making Android Apps available for Chromebooks removes the separation between Android and Chrome OS in terms of functionality. I’m excited to see what gets ported and how much more useful apps can be with more powerful hardware behind them. Also should be interesting to see how Google Now becomes more prevalent (and useful) when it becomes part of your work experience.
I’m still hesitant to buy a ChromeBook because I worry about the loss of Window applications, but merging the Chromebook hardware with Android apps would make me more confident that I could find replacements for anything that I “sacrificed” when moving from Windows.
Android TV puts Android front and center in your living room. A lot has been made of the gaming aspect, but I’m more interested in seeing collaboration tools and media sharing. TV has been a hot space for several years now with all the major players putting hardware or software solutions out there. I think the ecosystem is the major differentiator for Android versus products from Apple, Roku, Amazon & Samsung.
Chromecast Gets Even Better
Chromecast got some love this year with new features. I’ve been a lot happier with mine since the Google Cast SDK became available, and the new features makes it seem like an even better investment. I think the ability to ‘guest cast’ from your mobile device to some
one elses Chromecast opens up the entertainment options and further validates having a Chromecast in the living room. But for me, the best new feature is being able to cast any image or video from your phone without 3rd-party apps. I feel like this should have been an option from the beginning, but whatever.
Android Auto keeps apps at your finger tips on the road. I’m a little worried about distracted driving, but the car is a second home for a lot people and this means you are never away from your apps. I’m not a car owner, so this is not a big thing for me personally, but I’ll admit to some curiosity about driving and Android-powered car. I wonder if you’ll be able to upgrade to a driver-less car system via a patch at some point.
Android Wear doesn’t wow yet, but I think that’s because I’m not digging the designs. Google Fit seems like an obvious (but important) way to build interest. Fitness tracker apps have been popular for a while, so the competition should drive down prices. We’ll have to wait to learn what it can do when paired with watches. Also, really curious to when/if apps like RunKeeper will build for the wrist.
The announcements at I/O this year make me confident that I’ll be sticking with Android for a while. My only concern is that we’ll get a deluge of mediocre experiences across devices. So much of what we’ve seen has revolved around entertainment and fitness, but I’m more interested in task management, note taking and collaboration apps.
What did you think of this year’s I/O conference announcements? Anything that blew you away? Let me know in the comments.
Feature image blatantly grabbed from Google I/O site.