We are gearing up for I/O here at AP, and with the release of the I/O Sessions schedule, we've got an even clearer idea of what Google has in store for us.
Google I/O is a traditionally developer-oriented conference, but it's also always been a huge source of news about upcoming products. I/O is the one time of year when Googlers are allowed to show off their projects, so there's lots of news out there; you've just got to pay attention.
Didn't get a ticket to I/O? No problem! You can still join the geek party and watch all the action live (or not live, whatever) on YouTube. With something like 32 different Android-related sessions, the list can be a little overwhelming, so we figured it might be a good idea to pick out some of the potentially good ones.
There is, of course, the keynote speech, which is where all the major stuff is announced, but besides that, here's the stuff I'll be keeping an eye on:
Gaming looks to dominate Google I/O this year, with 5 of the 32 Android sessions related to getting your game on. That's more than any other topic. If I were to take a guess, judging by all these sessions, I would expect I/O to feature a huge gaming launch. The most obvious of which is
If you've been reading AP, you should know all about the work-in-progress Google gaming service: Google-hosted real-time and turn-based multiplayer, in-game chat, achievements, leaderboards, invitations, and lobbies are coming. We know this from an APK Teardown, and it seems like Google _knows_ that we know, and they aren't even trying to hide it anymore. "Mobile Multiplayer Made Manageable"? Just come out and say that you're launching a gaming service.
Hey, mobile game developers! Wondering what Google's been working on to make life better for you? Drop by the New Developments in Mobile Gaming talk and hear about the latest features we've been building to give your mobile games a little extra moxie.
Same goes for this one. "Hear about the latest features we've been building" sounds like we'll be getting new details about whatever Google has been hard at work on.
The three other gaming talks, if you're interested, are here:
iOS absolutely destroys Android when it comes to the selection of audio production apps. The reason for this is something called "audio latency." Say you're making a piano app; audio latency is the amount of time between tapping a key on the screen, and a sound coming out of the speaker. If even a half-second occurs between a screen tap and the sound playing, you're going to be thrown off rhythm, and something requires precise timing, like playing music, will basically be impossible.
iOS has great audio latency, so it has lots of audio production apps, and Android has crap audio latency, so it has no audio apps. So if you're at all interesting in making or using audio apps, you'll want to tune in to the "High Performance Audio" talk:
It’s not that hard to play a background soundtrack in your mobile game app, or to play short clips of sound in response to user actions. But how about responsive reliable audio, that doesn’t glitch, works well across a range of devices, and doesn’t eat up your user’s battery? Oh, and is lower latency too? It turns out that’s not so easy. We’ll share our own experiences with the Android platform and apps, discuss the problem areas and the work we’ve been doing in the platform, and give some techniques you can apply now in your own apps. We assume you’re familiar with OpenSL ES and audio terminology.
For a news junkie like myself, the important sentence here is "Discuss the work we've been doing in the platform" which means they have new audio latency stuff to announce.
An Android@Home Session? Maybe?
Miki is a user experience researcher on the Android team, focused on Android@Home.
Bethany is a user experience designer on the Android team, focused on Android@Home.
These are literally the first sentences of the two presenter bios. I'm intrigued.
In the Android UX team, it is critical to get user feedback frequently and consistently so that we are able to iterate and develop the best-in-class designs for our users. We will discuss how the team applied "Pulse Studies" (iterative research sessions) in order to put new ideas, designs, and concepts in front of users on a regular basis; it requires minimal advance planning, it can have an immediate product impact, and it can meet urgent needs. We will illustrate how we accomplished this collaborative process by presenting rich examples and case studies. We will also demonstrate usability study role playing in order to give you tips and tricks on how to adopt this process for anyone who is interested in getting user feedback in a quick and impactful way.
The description states that they're going to talk a lot about how the team designs and iterates stuff, and the team is clearly the Android@Home team, so maybe we'll get a peek at just what they've been up to, assuming it isn't announced at the keynote.
Next-Gen Google TV
There's going to be a Google TV session! The title, "Android: As seen on TV!" is particularly interesting, because it's hard to think of GTV as "Android" anymore, since it is still based on the ancient Honeycomb version. GoogleTV is usually called "Google TV," not "Android." Maybe I'm reading too much into things.
Regardless of the Android version, the description promises this talk will deliver the goods:
Google TV gives developers a consistent Android platform to create and deliver applications, games and high quality media on the largest screen in the house. In this session we'll show you how to unlock the potential of the current Google TV devices and explain the new features of the next generation Google TV platform.
"Explain the new features of the next-generation Google TV platform"? Yeah. Now we're talking! I'll be glued to this to find out what goodies the new GTV has in store. At least... I hope that's what they mean.
Glass is the new kid on the block in Google land, but it's showing up big time at I/O with four sessions. "Voiding Your Warranty: Hacking Glass" sounds really awesome. I'd love to see what ideas Google throws out there for the quickly growing Glass hacking community.
Glass is ready for hacking! See what is possible with the hardware platform and how you can gain root access. Learn how to run your own experimental applications. Disclaimer: you'll be stepping into uncharted and unsupported territory!
"How to gain root access" sounds interesting, because currently the only way to do that is with an old Android 4.0.4 exploit.
I'd also like to see "Building Glass Services with the Google Mirror API" because, currently, it doesn't seem like you can do all that much in Google's "non-root" Glass sandbox. So it'll be interesting to see what type of apps they expect people to develop.
Did you think Android is a big deal over at Google? Well Chrome (and apps) outnumbers it with thirty-seven sessions. Chrome has basically become shorthand for "the internet" over at Google. "The Chrome Packaged Apps State of the Nation" session sounds particularly interesting, because packaged apps are all about turning Chrome into a Windows-slaying OS with actual apps that aren't just bookmarks, like the new Google Keep Chrome app. Chrome is a little easier to keep track of due to it's open development, and sure enough, the team is promising "what's ahead on the roadmap."
"A More Awesome Web: Features You've Always Wanted" is the "What's new in HTML5" talk that's held seemingly every year, and I always find it entertaining. If you're like me, you spend a lot of time on the internet, so consider this a sneak peek into the future of the internets.
One of the most fun parts of I/O is watching a panel of all-star Googlers from the Android division take questions from the audience. Sometimes a question unearths a nugget of future information, sometimes it gives insight to what the Googlers are currently thinking, and sometimes the developer is just really, really angry and it's fun to watch everyone squirm.
Either way, it's always a fun time, and it's nice to see some of the more prolific Googlers in the flesh - especially the awesome people that help out AP once in a while. <3 Besides the killer Android panel, it should be worth checking out the Google+, Chrome, and Glass fireside chats, too.
That it for the Google I/O sessions that immediately jumped out at me. I'll be glued in front of my computer from the 15th to the 17th. I/O can't get here fast enough!