Google I/O: Android stands at one billion active users and counting

Live from San Francisco, it's time to check in to see what Android upgrade or even wacky moonshot Google has prepared for the world this year.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO---With more than one billion phones on track to ship annually, Android took center stage at the start of Google I/O 2014 on Wednesday morning.

Stepping out to a huge applause at Moscone West, Android and Chrome chief Sundar Pichai opened the annual, and now frequently sold-out, developer summit.

Pichai launched into listing loads of big numbers intended to impress attendees within the conference hall and beyond, starting by touting the global reach of the event. He declared at least one million people were watching via live-stream, notably at hosted events at Google offices in London and Lagos, Nigeria as well as at a designated location in Sao Paolo amid the World Cup.

With a subtle nod to recent backlash against Google over workforce gender gap demographics, Pichai also highlighted that "female participation" at Google I/O this year stands at 20 percent, up from eight percent the year prior.

However, despite being a developer conference, it became clear quickly Google had a product-heavy agenda set for event.

Focusing on 30-day active users globally, Pichai outlined that as activations double each year, Google is now at one billion active Android users and counting. He continued this figure translates to the following:

"Developers are delivering profound experiences on top of smartphones," Pichai reflected.

  • 20 billion text messages sent daily worldwide
  • 93 million "selfies" snapped each day
  • 1.5 trillion steps tracked per day
  • Phones are checked at least 100 billion times each day

"Developers are delivering profound experiences on top of smartphones," Pichai remarked.

With a brief nod at tablets, Pichai cited that Android tablets have grown to account for 62 percent of the global market share by June 2014, up from 46 percent in 2013 and 39 percent in 2012.

For the first time since launching Android with an open SDK, Google offered a preview of the upcoming L Developer Release, rolling out to attendees later today. The platform includes 5,000 new APIs, which Pichai suggested is possibly the largest for mobile or even "form factors beyond mobile."

Android developers will now be able to create seamless animations between virtually any activity and apps. The notifications tool set is also on deck for enhancements, specifically on the lockscreen with an emphasis on prioritizing notifications in an effort to give end users a "heads up."

The L Developer Preview should also boast some better runtimes, according to Google reps, designed to support 64-bit architectures and a cross-platform mix of processors. Google Maps on the Nexus 5, for example, should see pauses reduced from 10 milliseconds to just three to four milliseconds.

To take advantage of 64-bit, Google has a new set of APIs ready with no modifications required for apps written in Java.

For graphics and connectivity, Google is preparing an Android Extention Pack, promising "PC gaming graphics in your pocket," and Project Volta.

Google engineering director Dave Burke explained the latter's battery historian and saver functions, quipping how helpful they might be for users who "embark on a long hike or protest," a nod at a demonstrator who made her way to the keynote stage, protesting Google commuter buses and the related housing debate in the Bay Area.

Although Moscone West security might have appeared lax, Pichai argued that less than half a percent of Android users "ever run into any malware issue" while promising that more security and malware patches will continue to be delivered via Google Play Services.

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