Google I/O is only two days this year, but Google definitely crammed plenty of news into the first day. Today's keynote contained all the latest and greatest from Android on your phone, wrist, dashboard, and TV. Seriously, it was Android everywhere. Let's take a quick look at the high points of the day.
Two men, each a hardened warrior, each with a single goal: survive. Their wills are iron, their bodies are steel, and their entire being is wrapped around the intensity of their deadly purpose. Only one will stand victorious at the bitter end, and each will give anything, and everything, to make sure that it's him.
You've got to give props to Epic Games: they know how to make a good tech demo.
The first two Android Wear devices have just gone live in the Play Store. You can get your pre-order in today and Google will ship them your way as soon as they're in stock. The G Watch is selling for $229 and the Gear Live will be a little cheaper at $199.
Not only is Google announcing all sorts of stuff today, but it's also updating a slew of its apps (it is Update Wednesday, after all). Today's Google Search update brings a huge improvement: "OK Google" hotword detection to any screen... even the lockscreen. If you're plugged into a charger, the feature will even work with the display off. This lines up with the earlier rumor that it was coming eventually.
Once enabled (Google Now > Settings > Voice > "Ok Google Detection"), you'll have to enable Audio History and say the words three time in order for Now to register your voice – much like setting up the hotword detection on the Moto X and recent Droid devices.
If you own a Parrot Flower Power smart plant sensor, or you're thinking about buying one, you will be happy to know that the device isn't limited to syncing with an iOS app anymore. The Android app is out in open beta now on the Play Store, letting you monitor all your garden and plant needs from your phone.
Data is retrieved via Bluetooth Low Energy from the plant sensor and sent via the app to the Parrot Cloud for analysis.
Google Play for Education is an Android thing, not a Chrome thing. But considering the fact that Chromebooks' low prices and web-connected nature make them perfect terminal PCs for schools, it makes a lot of sense to bridge that gap. Today Google has done so, making the Google Play for Education page and app delivery system work for Chrome apps, Play Store books, and other content. It should be a familiar and relatively easy way for teachers and administrators to get things done.
Google Drive received a substantial bump to version 2.0 today, bring it up from version 126.96.36.199 to 188.8.131.52. The new app doesn't seem to have many user-facing changes outside a single big one we noticed, in the form of a brand-new UI in the file details view. Take a look below.
This new interface is substantially more modern, completely ditching the top bar in favor of a blown-up document preview and a grid of buttons that make performing tasks with your files much easier.
Google Play Services is that app on your phone that doesn't look like it does anything, but actually does a lot of things. This is how Google rolls out new services and features to the core of Android sans OS updates. Today we've got the details on Play Services v5.0. This covers some of the features Google announced in the I/O keynote and a few smaller ones as well.
Are you curious to see how all the new parts of Android will work together? Do you want this information delivered in advertisement form? Would you prefer this ad to feature an attractive yet non-threatening male model, a generic alt-rock backtrack, and a cute doggy? Then sit back and watch, my highly-specific friend, because your world is about to be rocked.
OK, so Google's latest advertisement isn't exactly breaking the mold here, but it does show a pretty seamless transition between an Android L phone, an Android Wear watch, an Android Auto car, and finishing with Android TV.
If you're still toting around a stock AT&T Galaxy Note II, good news: your phone is finally getting Android 4.4.2. The rollout should be starting now, and includes all of the basic 4.4 goodies you can expect coming from 4.3, like wireless printing, the new storage access framework, SMS default app selection, Google Wallet tap-to-pay support, and a few others. Here's Samsung's full changelog:
OS upgrade to Android 4.4.2 KitKat
New Lock Screen Access
Media Controls - full-screen album art and media controls when listening to music
Camera Shortcut - access the Camera application right from the lock screen
Improved user experience when multiple messaging apps are installed - All SMS and MMS messages are together in the same app, alongside other conversations and video calls.