Google I/O 2013

This past week, Google wrapped up its annual developers’ conference in San Francisco, Calif., giving us a look into the future of one of the most powerful companies. Google I/O features highly technical, in-depth sessions geared towards developers. Over 6000 developers on-site, 460 I/O Extended sites in 90 countries and millions around the world tuned in to the live-stream  indicating just how popular Google is and the excitement surrounding their big announcements. The Keynote speech offers a look into product and platform innovations Google has planned for the upcoming year.

Here’s a quick summary of what you missed at the 2013 Keynote:

Google+
Google+ is being updated with 41 new features. The most significant being the content feed. The new design was unveiled, and appears to look like a combination of the Facebook timeline and Pinterest. This new interface allows for easy content exploration and places an emphasis on images and links. Each photo flips over to reveal more information about the subject. The new Google+ is hyper-intelligent, with its automated hashtags, letting you find relevant content that much easier. A significant update to Google+ is the new automatic photo enhancement feature and the new highlight view for albums. Based on a variety of factors, Google can stop duplicate images from appearing, emphasize photos with friends or know landmarks, and even filter out blurry pictures. Google+ Hangouts also got an upgrade, streamlining your online conversations to any device or platform.

Android
Google announced 900 million Android activations and 48 billion app downloads to date. They will be releasing a stock Android Galaxy S4, rather than the Samsung interface. The phone will be available for purchase in the Google Play store on June 26, but it won’t come cheap — the price is set at a steep $649.

Google Play
An obvious update to Google Play is the store’s visual appearance, but behind the scenes there have also been improvements. You can now get suggestions based on your personalized preferences, chosen by Google. In addition, Google introduced Google Play for Education, a store specifically for educational institutions. Google Play Games has added the ability for cloud gaming, so if you stop playing on one device, you can seamlessly pick back up on another device. Lastly, Google Play Music is offering a new $9.99 monthly streaming service, similar to Spotify and Rdio. Google Play Music All Access is radio without rules. Google is offering a free monthly trial, and if you sign up before June 8th, you can use the service for only $7.99 a month.

Maps
Google Maps continues to stay one step ahead of the competition, and this big update will ensure they do just that. Maps has been redesigned to be fully interactive and tailored to you. The service gets better the more you use it as it adapts to your preferences and is able to suggest restaurants you may enjoy or even the fastest route home. With the integration between Maps and Google Earth, you will be able to explore cities in 3D and view “3D Photo Tours” for a virtual sightseeing experience. Google added several new types transportation, including a flight search, they improved public transit information significantly and are including live traffic reports. You will also have the ability to compare different modes of transportation to see which one is best for you. To be one of the first to try to new Google Maps, you have to request an invite.

Glass
Glass has the potential to be “the next big thing” in technology. Although not part of the keynote, Google Glass was a big topic for day 2 of the conference and stole the show. During the I/O, Official apps for Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Evernote were debuted. Glass sessions focused on product development and building “glassware.” There was also a Q&A period that covered privacy implications and government restrictions. Google Glass is most likely the first step on a long journey of wearable technology. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s received by the general public when it becomes available at the end of the year.

If you would like to view the Keynote in its entirety, it’s available on YouTube (warning: it’s three and half hours long). Google never ceases to impress the world with their advances in technology. We’ll be looking forward to seeing what Google comes up with next.

 —Rachel Keeton