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Google Announces Android Wear, Android Auto, Android Fit, Android TV and More

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Day one of Google’s I/O Developer conference kicked off with a bang at Moscone Center in San Francisco, California! The tech giant announced hardware and product availability, confirming earlier leaked reports of smartwatches from LG and Samsung. Also on tap were a few huge developments in terms of software services that will move consumers closer to their sci-fi fantasies. I’ll parse the geek speak and fill you in on the most exciting announcements!

I/O is a conference aimed at those who write the programs that make the world sing (sorry for the Manilow reference), but Google has a habit of announcing technology at the conference that consumers can get excited about as well. Let’s just get the things you were probably thinking most about out of the way, the smartwatches. When it comes to the LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live, we’ve seen leaks and videos and rumors for some time. Today on stage, David Singleton, Director, Android Engineering announced both - after having used them in demos- telling the audience they’d be available in Google’s Play Store later in the day. Much to the audible chagrin of those in attendance, the highly anticipated Moto360 smartwatch’s availability was casually tossed out with a mention that it would be available “later this summer.”

The smartwatches heralded the release of Google’s Android Wear platform which, along with the release of the next Android operating system, Android L, seeks to unify the worlds of wearable technology, smartphone/mobile tech and personal computing. With Google's purchase of Nest, the smart home thermostat, this rabbit hole will go much deeper eventually but I digress. Foregoing what will be for what was announced today, Google showed off just what all those smartwatches can do running on the Android Wear platform. You’ll be able to have notifications pushed to the watch from the phone and be able to dismiss notifications on the watch which will in turn dismiss them on the phone. Think of the watch as a second screen for your smartphone, allowing you to be more selective with how many times a day you actually need to look at the thing. Google says the average person checks their phone 150 times a day so this gives you the ability to filter out some of the notifications noise that our lives have become inundated with. But there’s much more.

In addition to reading notifications and content pushed to the watch from the phone, the watch itself will be able to give you relevant, contextual data. For example, say you have a friend who has a Pinterest board of restaurants she’s eaten at and rated. Well, if you’re out on the town, your watch will alert you when you’re close to that one eatery she just pinned last night. Then there are apps like EAT24. Singleton treated the audience to a demo: ordering a pizza from his watch in just 20 seconds using the EAT24 app. It remembered his last order and payment info and allowed him to order without ever having to touch his phone. Who wouldn’t be excited by the prospect of sitting on your couch and just ordering a pizza from your watch? Dick Tracy had nothing on that! Part of bridging the gap between the smartphone and smartwatch is finding all those new apps and getting them on the watch but Google’s taken care of that by making it so that when you install an app on your phone, if it has an Android Wear version it will automatically be installed on the watch for you as well. Of course, keep checking back here on myfoxla.com for my future reviews of both products!

Since these watches have multiple sensors in them which will help facilitate exercise tracking and more, it’s only fitting that Google also announced their Google Fit platform as well. Google Fit will be built into Android L and will be a platform which allows you to have all of your personal health and fitness data in one place and accessible across your multiple devices and screens. Your data will be aggregated from a variety of devices and apps but you get to choose who sees that data and how much is shared. Right now, Intel, Adidas, Nike, Runkeeper and Withings have already signed on as partners.
Google wants you to have access to Android everywhere, all with a consistent, unified theme so they also announced Android Auto and Android TV. By their names you can take a guess at what each are. Android Auto is Google’s foray into the automotive industry with an interface that isn’t actually built into the car but rather projected from your phone and operates like Google Now. Much like Android Wear, it would appear that Google has put a lot of effort into making sure that your experience is consistent across platforms so that you’re not learning how to use a new user interface or operating system. If you know Android, then when you’re in your car, the switch to the Android Auto interface should feel pretty familiar. Not to mention that you can actually do quite a bit via voice interactions, just like with Google Now. How does it work? The demo was done by plugging the car’s entertainment system/dashboard display into an Android phone’s USB port. Once that was done, the Android Auto interface was displayed on the monitor in the dashboard and connected with the car’s handsfree system so that the voice activation button on the steering wheel was able to initiate interactions with Android Auto. Android TV is software that will be included in a set-top box, or baked into your TV. It will allow you to use voice search to find shows, play your favorite Android games with game controllers, and it supports Google Cast which allows you sling content from your phone to your TV.

For the full keynote, you can watch the 3 hour YouTube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtLJPvx7-ys
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