Friday, June 27, 2014

Google I/O 2014 Roundup

Google I/O - Google's annual conference kicked off with some exciting announcements. It is the most anticipated event of this year. For Google, this was a big day to unveil the company's future plans.

Senior Vice President of Android, Chrome & Apps Sundar Pichai  started the Google I/O 2014 keynote with 30 day active users statistics. According to Google, Android has 1 billion 30-day active users in the world.

Android L  Developer Preview

Google announced the next major release of Android dubbed 'L'. The final name of this release is not yet decided. Android L Developer Preview is released for the developers to test drive. However, the final release will take place later this year.

User Interface

Android L has a whole new design language - "Material Design". In Material Design, pixels and interface elements react to your touch in an intuitive way, like you'd expect materials to in the real world. Developers can define depth and motion in their apps to respond the way they want them to when users interact with the interface. The whole interface has much depth, shadows and more flatter design. There are animations throughout the interface - Buttons has subtle animations on press, activity transitions are more smoother and delightfully animated. The system font - Roboto has also been updated with smoother edges.


In Android L, notifications are getting a big overhaul. When your device is locked, all the notifications will be shown on the lock screen itself. Swiping down will show you full set of notifications and double tapping a notification will open the corresponding app.

There is also a new form of notification called - 'Heads Up Notification". This notification pops up on the top of the screen when you are engaged in some game.

ART - Android Runtime

The ART Runtime will be the official runtime in Android L release. The current runtime in Android devices is Dalvik. According to Google, ART Runtime allows apps to load faster and there is upto 2x performance increase over Dalvik. ART also supports 64-bit architecture which promises less memory usage.

AEP - Android Extension Pack

Android L introduces new graphics capabilities called - 'Android Extension Pack'. Google demonstrated what Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 can do with AEP running on Nvidia Tegra K1 processor. With AEP, Google puts game developers on the fast track to bring modern game engines to mobile devices. AEP adds powerful new extensions to OpenGL ES, the mobile graphics standard, bringing PC and console-class features like tessellation and compute shaders to Android.

Project Volta

Battery life will be improved in the L release, thanks to features like a new battery saving mode, scheduling of maintenance tasks, and coalescing of CPU tasks. Project Volta will give developers tools to monitor battery consumption and correlate it with CPU actions. According to Google, battery saving mode can add up to 90 minutes to a typical day of usage on a Nexus 5.

Android Wear

Announced earlier this year, Android Wear devices are officially launched to the public. There are three Android Wear devices known so far - LG G Watch, Samsung Gear Live & Motorola 360.

LG G Watch & Samsung Gear Live are up for pre-order on Google Play while the much loved Motorola 360 will be available later this year.

With Android Wear, users can have a glance at their notifications, cards from Google Now, voice search, play music, reply to messages directly from the watch itself. Android Wear also mirrors your currently opened app on your phone or tablet. Eg. If you open a recipe on a cooking app on your phone, you can continue to read the next steps on your watch. Android Wear also have a heart rate monitor and also counts your steps. Android Wear SDK has been released for developers to create some wrist magic.

Android Auto

Google announced Android Auto - a step to bring Android to cars. Google announced 40 new partners to the Open Automotive Alliance.

With Android Auto, users get access to the full breadth of Android apps with total hands-free usage. Directions are spoken out loud as you progress towards your destination. Incoming messages are read out loud to you and show as heads-up notifications. The steering wheel voice button can be used to instantly reply. Your Android handset broadcasts the customized interface to the car display on the fly. The overview screen provides contextually relevent information from Google Now and other apps, all with the same fidelity and functionality of their mobile and web counterparts. An SDK is being made available soon so developers can build out their own automotive apps.

Android TV

Google announced Android TV - a step to bring Android to the living room.

Android TV, the successor to Google TV, brings a new, streamlined user interface to TVs, game consoles, and set top boxes, designed to put content front and center. Android TV brings music, games, apps, movies, and TV shows alongside Android to your big screen. Android TV is designed for game consoles, TV sets, and set top boxes.

The interface based on Android L Material Design, is intuitive and simple, but still elegant and classy. There is a controller to navigate the menu and play games and also have an Android app for your phone or tablet which allows your phone / tablet to be the remote control. You can also use your Android Wear watch as a remote control.

The Chromecast is built-in to Android TV, so you can cast anything from your phone / tablet / chrome to the biggest screen in your house (TV).

Android TV will support all 2015 smart TV models from Sharp and Sony (among others), along with a slew of upcoming set-top boxes form Razer, ASUS, and others. Starting today, Google is also launching a developer preview box, which is powered by NVIDIA's Tegra 4 processor.

Android One

Google introduced a program called - 'Android One'. This program focuses on bringing Android devices to as many people as possible. Android One is currently focused to Indian Market to launch under $100 devices running stock Android.

Mobile phone companies in India like Karbonn, Micromax & Spice have joined Android One to bring affordable Android devices to the people.

Update to Chromecast

Google introduced a cool new feature to Chromecast that allows to cast content without having to worry about being on the same WiFi network. It's all done through the cloud but allows you all the same functionality as if you were connected over WiFi.

The new technology can authenticate the users via the cellular connection to the cloud, or there'll be the possibility to use a PIN should this not be possible. This will be available to all Chromecast users and app developers later this year and looks to make using Chromecast a more social experience.

Another new feature was introduced called Chromecast Mirroring. This feature allows Android phones and tablets to push their live view out to the TV wirelessly; that means apps don't need to specifically add Chromecast support anymore, and you can have an easier time seeing just about anything. This can even mirror your camera.

Update to Chrome OS

Google announced that Android apps can be run on your Chromebook in a window. With new APIs available in Android L, your phone and your Chromebook can communicate together seamlessly. When your phone is with you and you open your Chromebook, you'll now automatically be logged in and your favorite apps will be opened on the laptop.

Notifications from your Android phone will be mirrored across to the Chromebook's notification center, including Google Now, incoming calls, phone battery state and text messages.

Google Fit

Google announced a platform preview of Google Fit, a set of APIs that will allow developers to sync data across wearables and devices. It empowers apps by providing them with access to a user's entire stream of fitness activity, letting software tap into data that it didn't capture itself and provide better recommendations.

Google wants its platform integrated with a number of various form factors, increasing its utility. Nike will be publishing Nike Fuel to the Google Fit platform, so other apps can integrate with the device. Several other partners have also signed up, including Adidas, RunKeeper, and multiple smartphone manufacturers.
Google Fit preview SDK will become available in the coming weeks.

While wrapping up the keynote, Google gave away a Cardboard VR box which turns your phone into a virtual reality device.

Google IO attendees also received brand new Android Wear watch (choice between LG G Watch & Samsung Gear Live). Google also announced that all attendees will also receive Motorola 360 when its available.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Apple WWDC 2014 Roundup

Apple kicked off its annual Worldwide Developer Conference with OS X update, iOS 8, developer tools and a new programming language.

OS X Yosemite

OS X Yosemite has a refreshed and clean user interface. Introduction of translucent windows, absence of gradient, flatter and polished icons make OS X Yosemite look awesome.

The Notification Center lets you see your upcoming calendar events, reminders, and the weather forecast. Apple introduced universal Search tool called Spotlight. Spotlight lets you search for apps, files, settings & web search.

Apple also introduced iCloud Drive service, which lets you store files to the cloud. The iCloud Drive folder can be accessed from the Finder file browser.

Safari web browser now integrates better search results and has better multi tab functionalities. Clicking on the main search bar will also open up your favorite sites.

OS X Yosemite has great communication ability with iOS devices. Now, you can send text messages right from the Mac. You can even answer or dial a phone call from Mac even if your iPhone is not within reach.

Apple also introduced Handoff, a new feature of OS X that helps you share work across devices. For eg. You can start an email on your phone and your Mac will prompt you to finish it there. Or you can start a document in iWork and your iPad will suggest you continue your work there once you move away from your laptop.

OS X Yosemite is available to developers from today and public beta will be out this summer. The final public release will be out this fall and will be a free upgrade to existing OS X users.

iOS 8

iOS 8 was introduced with some cool new features such as improved actionable Notifications. Now you can respond directly to messages from the Notifications view and from the lock screen. You can also add third-party widgets to the Notifications Center.

iOS 8 also comes with a QuickType keyboard. As you type, the keyboard gives you words suggestions. It also learns your usage of words and suggest accordingly.

Messages app now lets you send audio and video recordings, and also allow you to mute message threads.
The iCloud Drive is fully integrated in iOS 8 and thanks to the Handoff feature, you’ll be able to access files from your Mac that have been saved and synced through iCloud.

The new photos app gives you the ability to view and edit your photos with variety of filters and effects. The photos are stored in your iCloud account, and Apple gives you 5 GB free of charge to start. But beyond that, you will have to subscribe for access: 20 GB for $0.99 per month, 200 GB for $3.99 per month.

Siri got some updates as well, you call up the Siri without even touching your phone. Just say the words "Hey, Siri" and it’ll appear automatically, similar to "OK, Google" in Android & Chrome.

Apple iOS 8 will be available to everyone this fall, while a developer Beta of the OS has been released today. Compatible iPhone devices include all models from iPhone 4s onwards.

Developer Tools

HomeKit will allow iPhones to start controlling smart devices, such as garage-door openers, lights, and security cameras. It all can be controllable through Siri: say, "Get ready for bed," and your home could automatically dim its lights and lock its doors. Apple will run a certification program for HomeKit; initial partners include August (which is known for its beautiful smart lock), Honeywell, iHome, TI and about a dozen more.

Apple also announced a new programming language - Swift. Swift represents the future of development across iOS and OS X and its code can coexist with C and Objective C's code in the same app.


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