Google aims to push tablets as part of new education initiative

Google Play for Education lets teachers deploy an app or an e-book to all of their students' tablets at once.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO -- Google Chrome briefly grabbed the spotlight during the opening keynote at I/O 2013 on Wednesday morning.

See also: Google I/O by the numbers: 900 million Android activations | Google developer tool releases include new Maps, Games, Google+ APIs | I/O 2013: Google's location APIs likely to fuel Google Glass apps

New product and feature announcements were sparse, but executives did reiterate the Internet giant's commitment to education.

Chris Yerga, director of engineering for the Android team, retook the stage to introduce Google Play for Education, touted as an "easy and affordable" strategy to put Android tablets in all schools.

Yerga stressed that many people have argued that Google should make it possible that each student benefit from a tablet, adding that the Mountain View, Calif.-based corporation agrees.

The new store launches this fall. It enables teachers deploy an app or an e-book to all of their students' tablets at once.

As for the general Chrome update, at I/O 2012 in June, Google reported 450 million+ monthly active users on Google Chrome.

Since then, the number has grown to 750 million active users presently.

Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of the Android, Chrome and Apps teams, briefly touched on the recent release of the Chromebook Pixel laptop, glossing over the specs and adding that there will be more news on the high-end laptop later this year.

Following up a demo of how the upcoming second installation of The Hobbit franchise has been developed on the Chrome-based machine, Linus Upson, vice president of Chrome engineering, introduced new changes focused on speed, simplicity and security.

One of the major improvements in the last year has centered around JavaScript, which Upson touted is now 24 percent better on the desktop version and 57 percent better on mobile (including a 2.4 times speed boost in last four weeks alone).

Upson introduced WebP, essentially an upgrade from JPEG files with  31 percent reduction in file size. He added that the benefits are "compelling" saving on bandwidth and power.

As for video, YouTube will be adding support for VP9 later this year, an upgrade from H.264 files being that it offers a 63 percent reduction in file size at 3.0 Mbits per second versus 8.2Mbits.

Building on existing HTML5 auto-complete tools, Chrome now has a simpler form consisting of three steps: checkout, review (billing and shipping info), and submit.

The Chrome team also introduced a new UI framework, which includes the ability for developers to build their own HTML tags in a single compartment that can be shared across mobile and desktop platforms along with a toolkit that can take advantage of native components.

The unnamed framework isn't available to all developers yet, but it will be on display during I/O this week.

Developers, members of the media, and Google fanboys will also get a closer look at the Chromebook Pixel this week as attendees will all be given their own units during the show.

More to come...

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