Google I/O 2011 is all wrapped up, and boy was it eventful. In case you missed them the first go-round, we provided a handy-dandy list (with videos embedded) of the keynotes and Android sessions from both the first and second day. The first keynote, especially, was really quite fascinating and provided a good review of where Android is headed. But at 55 minutes, it's probably a bit much to ask people to watch something quite that long (alternatively, you can read my on-the-fly notes). So fret not, reader, we've got you covered with this two-in-one recap and poll post. Let's take a look at what's coming:
- In case you missed it, Honeycomb is being updated to 3.1. The update has already started rolling out for the XOOM 3G and WiFi, and should be coming down the pipes to other devices soon. (Hopefully.)
- Looking out a little longer-term, the two branches of Android (Honeycomb and Gingerbread, or tablet and phone in layman's terms) will be merged into one - known as Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS for short). They say they're taking the best of both worlds and merging them into one. Details beyond - including version number - are unknown at this point.
- A powerhouse of carriers and manufacturers have come together with Google to form the
RebelAndroid Alliance. The promise: deliver Android updates to devices in a timely manner - and support devices for 18 months after release (so long as the device is up to snuff). Between ICS and the Android Alliance, it looks like Google really is serious about fighting fragmentation.
- Android@Home is one of the coolest new things we've seen come out of Android in a while - maybe ever. It can't be aptly described in words, so I'd suggest watching this part of the Keynote. Seriously - it's damn cool. I know some of you will refuse though, so in a nutshell: they want you to be able to control your home using your Android device. They say they have worked with partners to create a cheap piece of hardware that connects to every part of your house - lights, appliances, everything. A more specific (and cooler) implementation: tapping a CD to a Project Tungsten stereo device, and having the entire CD instantly copied to your Google Music library. Yup... it's awesome.
- What's Google Music, you ask? That seems like a silly question; it's certainly not Google's take on chess, is it? It's their eponymous service for hosting and streaming music via that cloud - but it's a bit more in-depth than that. Your music is stored and streamed via the cloud - no wires or syncing needed. You can create, modify, and control playlists, including an "Instant Mix" feature which "... literally listens to your music... [uses] machine learning... [to create a] truly ingenious mix."
- You can now rent movies from the Android Market. As with Music, it's cloud-based, but you can "pin" movies and watch them offline. You can also watch them via the browser - very cool.
- They also demoed "0-click" wireless streaming between devices using NFC.
- The Android Market is growing like gangbusters - especially outside the US. It's also received a ton of new features, and more are in the pipeline. They've also increased the max app size to a whopping 4GB and tweaked the controversial 15-minute return policy. See the highlights post for a broader overview of the Market growth and improvement.
- Google TV will be updated to Android 3.1 (Honeycomb), and gain access to the Android Market.
- I know you'll find this hard to believe, but it turns out Android is popular. Hugely popular. Over 100 million Android devices have been activated, and that number grows by 400,000 every. single. day.
- In addition to early access to Google Music beta, I/O 2011 attendees received special-edition Galaxy Tab 10.1s. I have nothing nice to say here.
- They also announced Android Open Accessories - or using Android with other stuff. This is similar to Android@Home, but focuses on accessories (believe it or not). For example, they used a cheap Arduino board hooked up (via motors) to the game where you guide a marble through a maze, and controlled the board using a XOOM. Another example: they hooked a Nexus S into an exercise bike and used the pedaling motion to control a simple game on the NS. Here's the relevant part of the keynote.
So, of all the announcements from I/O 2011, what has you most excited? Sound off in the poll and comments below.