Android, the most widely used OS in mobile devices, is going beyond smartphones and tablets. It’s going to be everywhere, according to the vision outlined at Google’s I/O Developer Conference Wednesday in San Francisco.
In front of an audience of more than 6,000 app developers, some wearing Google Glass, Google’s senior vice president, Sundar Pichai, shared the search giant’s vision of Android products having a seamless connection with each other. A network was diagramed on the back of the stage during the event for developers depicting smartphones, smartwatches, laptops, tablets, TVs, cars and homes all being connected to one another.
Solution providers do see the growth of the Internet of Things opening opportunities for the channel.
“If we’re talking about integrating their cars, appliances in their house and TVs, all that interconnectivity opens up a whole host of risk in terms of exposure, which opens up opportunity for us in the channel to come up with solutions,” said Douglas Grosfield, president and CEO of Xylotek Solutions, an Ontario-based solution provider. “I believe it does open up more of a market for solution providers as that market space grows.”
Google’s latest installment of its smartphone and tablet operating system, Android L, brings a new animated look. With each command a user makes in the device, an animated effect is triggered while the command is smoothly carried out.
“We drew inspiration from paper and ink, but unlike paper our digital material can expand and reform,” said Matias Duarte, director of Android operating system user experience at Google, while previewing the new operating system. “Touch is rewarded with motion. Splashes of virtual ink that are like ripples in a pond.”
This animated illustration is carried over to Google’s new versions of Android, dubbed Android Wear, Android Auto and Android TV, which were all demonstrated and released in beta formats to developers Wednesday.
Android Wear is what delivered some buzz to the event in the past few weeks as it is the version of Android for wearable devices, such as smartwatches, which were showcased at the event. As expected, LG released the LG G watch at the event, while Motorola’s new smartwatch will be available later this summer.
Samsung released its new smartwatch, the Samsung Gear Live, moving the company away from its own Tizen OS it had running its previous smartwatches to Google's Android Wear. This may be because it wanted to take advantage of the new connectivity features Android L offers between devices.
Google’s director of engineering, David Singleton, demoed Android Wear, showing off its voice command features and smartphone notifications that appear on the synced smartwatch. “With glance-able notifications and quick voice actions, Android gives you what you need right when you need it,” he said. “Your watch will also give intelligent answers to important questions.”
Those in the enterprise will appreciate uninterrupted workflow by using these new communication features.
“People in the workforce are looking for a way to communicate seamlessly in an easy fashion,” said Grosfield. “The days of leaving a voicemail are long lost. Being able to see who is calling you, while whatever you are working on is not disrupted, there are a whole host of things this offers that can make people in the workforce more productive.”
The search giant’s new Android Auto demo stressed its effort to minimize the fatal scenarios texting while driving has led to, citing reports stating 25 percent of accidents in the U.S. are caused by texting while driving.
With Android Auto, users keep their eyes off the road and use voice commands to access navigation maps, phone contacts and music playlists. A driver’s car system will pair with and Android phone, displaying the options in a car’s display.
Patrick Brady, director of engineering for Android, stated that Google has more than 40 new partners that have joined the Open Automotive Alliance to prevent accidents caused by drivers using their mobile devices, and more than 25 car makers have signed up to deliver Android Auto soon.
“We’re really excited about Android Auto, and we think we’ve found the right way,” he said. “Some [compatible] cars will be rolling off the lot at the end of this year.”
Android TV gives users access to streaming movies, TV series and more, rivaling Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and others. Showing off the syncing features of Android, Android TV can be controlled by an Android smartphone, or an Android Wear smartwatch.
Toward the end of the event, Pichai stressed the importance of Samsung being in the picture, thanking the company for its contributions as Samsung KNOX is incorporated in the new line of Android software, providing security to the operating systems and interconnected devices.
Despite Google’s efforts to stress the security incorporated in Android L’s product connectivity, solution providers are still skeptical.
“There are a lot of big players that are talking the talk of the Internet of Things. It’s probably the fastest-growing space in the tech world right now.” said Grosfield. “I can see some very valid reasons to be nervous about that in terms of security risks. The ease of use of collaboration is one side of the coin, but the security and risks it imposes has to factor in its development. My hope as a VAR is that security is receiving the weight that it deserves.”
PUBLISHED JUNE 25, 2014