Live from Google I/O 2012

Live from the Moscone Center in San Francisco: Coverage of Google I/O 2012 begins here.
Written by Ed Burnette, Contributor
The Keynote for Google I/O 2012 opened this morning at Moscone West. The session started with an emphasis on Android by Hugo Barra.


Last year there were 100M total devices activated - this year there are 400M Android devices. Today, 1M new devices are activated every single day. That's about 12 new devices every second.

Google announced Android 4.1 JellyBean. Dave Burke, Android engineering Director, talked about Project Butter. In JellyBean this is the project to made the UI fast, fluid, and smooth.

Project Butter aspects include tying the UI to the 60fps vsync rate. They also introduced triple buffering to make the experience smoother, and they also incorporated my idea of predictive modelling for touch responsiveness. Basically this means it guesses where your finger is going to be at the next vsync and draws the user interface to match it.

A new tool called SysTrace collects info direct from the Linux Kernel. This tool is used by developers to point out problem areas that need to be optimized. Google engineers used it for Project Butter but it will be available to application developers too.

Using a high speed camera, they compared the performance of IceCreamSandwich to JellyBean side by side. The JB device began animations quicker and did them faster. Video is available on Google's web site.

Other JellyBean improvements:

  • Dropping widgets on the home screen moves other widgets out of the way.
  • Widgets are automatically resized to fit, and you can discard them by tossing them off the screen.
  • A better dictionary and predictive typing.
  • Offline voice typing using on-device voice recognition (US English first, more later).
  • Added Arabic font, plus Persian, Indian, and Thai.
  • For accessibility, they added gesture mode which lets you use gestures in combination with speech. Also they can do braille support.
  • Improved camera app lets you review existing photos with a swipe. Pinch gives you a film strip view. Toss photo away to delete it.
  • New Android Beam features: share photo or video by tapping.
  • Notifications are more customizable, lets you take calls, see all your GMail, email guests if you're late. See photos shared on G+, like things on FourSquare, control music, etc., all within the notification area. Use gestures to expand/compact notifications.
  • Search redesigned from the ground up: New UI, Voice Search, and Google Now.
  • Voice search is much faster and answers you based on the power of the knowledge graph. This is essentially Google's version of Siri.
  • Google Now figures out what you're doing now and offers suggestions. For example if you're near a bus stop, GN tells you when the next bus will arrive. It'll show you restaurants around you as you walk down the street, and tell you when to depart to make events. Updates of your favorite teams (it knows which teams you like based on prior searches).
  • To get into Google Now you click the search box or swipe up from the bottom of your screen. Cards will get smarter and more accurate as you use them, and they'll be adding more cards over time.

JellyBean will come out as an OTA update in July for Galaxy Nexus and Xoom. The Preview SDK is available right now from d.android.com .

The Platform Development Kit (PDK) is for hardware developers. It will be available to device partners two to three months before the platform release date for all future releases. They already started this for a few partners for JellyBean. This will help partners come out with releases on time.

Google Play

Google Play has more than 600K apps and games. More than 1.5 billion installs are done every month, and they just reached 20 billion downloads total. Carrier billing is expanding to over a dozen carriers.

New features for developers:

  • App encryption. From JellyBean forward, paid apps are encrypted with a device specific key. This means they won't work if copied and uploaded to a pirate site.
  • Smart app updates. Users only download the part of the APK that change. Smart updates are about 1/3rd the size of a full update. It's handled automatically, supported on Gingerbread and above.
  • Google Cloud Messaging replaces C2DM. It's free for devs and there are no quota limitations. New features include multicast.

Movies are now available for sale on Google Play. You can also purchase TV shows, either by episode or season. Partnered with Disney, ABC, NBC, Sony Pictures, and more.

Magazines are coming to Google Play. Partnered with top publishers, buy single issues or subscriptions. 14 day free trial is available on the most popular issues.

Nexus 7 Tablet

The Nexus program brings the best of the Google experience. They partnered with Asus to create Nexus 7. Built for Google Play, running Android 4.1 JellyBean.

Specs for Nexus 7:

  • 1280x800 display40 grams
  • Tegra 3 with quad core CPU, 12 core GPU
  • Battery provides up to 9 hours of video playback, up to 300 hours of standby
  • 340 grams
  • Front facing camera
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC

Other features:

  • Nexus 7 is great for reading. It has a Readability-like feature to view flowing text in a simplified window.
  • New recommendation engine, new "what's this song" feature (bye bye Shazam).
  • Ships with Chrome as the standard browser.
  • Improved Youtube
  • Improved Google Maps - see inside restaurants and bars with compass mode (hooked up to gyroscope).
  • Offline maps. Save data for an entire city. Tap on menu and click "make available offline".
  • Google Currents. Now has Translate and readable text built-in.

Nexus 7 is a great gaming device too. Demos shown:

  • Horn
  • Dead Trigger from Mad Finger Games

Availability and price: $199, includes a $25 credit to spend in the Google Play store. Includes Transformers Dark of the Moon movie, a free book, and magazine samples. On sale today from Google, will ship mid-July.

Project Tungsten - Nexus Q

Combination of hardware, software, and the cloud. Brings together Android and Google Play to create "Nexus Q". It's a small Android-based computer that looks like a black softball with a colored ring of light around it.

You use your phone or tablet to control it, and the Q streams content from the cloud. Optical digital audio, micro HDMI output, dual band WiFi and Ethernet, NFC and Bluetooth, USB port for accessories and "hackability".

From Google Play you pick a room to play in, then press play and it starts immediately. LEDs around perimeter respond to the music, and it also shows a visualization on your TV.

Nexus Q is a cloud connected jukebox. Your friends can add their content to your playlist. Anyone can move songs around the queue and take control. Basically your friends can play their music in your living room. Also works with movies and YouTube. No authentication or setup, "it just works".

Nexus Q can be pre-ordered today for $299 and will ship in July.

Interestingly, Google TV was not mentioned. It was unclear how the Q relates to or works with Google TV.


The one year anniversary is tomorrow and it gains momentum every day. Some things people are using it for include astronomy, health, sports, photograph, music, and even physics. In just one year, 250M G+ accounts have been created. 150M+ monthly active, 50% sign in each day.

The answer for what comes next lies in mobile. Google now has more users engaging from mobile than from desktop.

Announcing Google+ for tablets (finally). Works on Android today, and iPad "very soon". Hangouts on tablets let you pin videos, swipe to other videos, new ribbon bar navigation on the left. Improvements are also available on Android smartphones today.

Announcing Google+ Events. Before, during, and after your next party. Invitations use cinemagraphic themes and deep integration with Google calendar. Guests can be added whether or not they are on G+. During the event, you can go into "party mode" which makes everybody's photos get automatically added to the event. A live slide show can be shown during the party.

After the event, all photos are put in one place in chronological order. You can scroll through all the pictures, and it shows you who took each picture. Creates event highlights based on clicks or +1's.

First official event will be tonight's After Hours party featuring Train and Paul Okenfold. Please download the new Android version available in Google Play today. Everybody at IO will get an invite.


Sergey Brin made an unexpected appearance to demo Glass. It started with a live hangout from a blimp over Moscone. Skydivers wearing Glass jumped out and parachuted to the roof of the conference center. Then they passed a package to bikers, who passed it to a guy who rappelled down the building, passed to other bikers, who drove the package up on stage. Everybody was part of a hangout with live video through their Glasses. Very cool.

The Glass prototype has a touchpad on the side, a button for taking pictures, accelerometers, compass, multiple radios, etc.. The group started about 2 1/2 years ago, first bulky prototypes were miniaturized. It's close to your senses but doesn't get in the way. To empower people to use technology naturally it has to be very light. The latest prototype weighs less on your nose than sunglasses. Can be used in different form factors for the frames.

Two main uses will be communicating with images, and instant access to broad range of information. You can capture moments in your life that would otherwise be lost. First person point of view. Easy and seamless to share.

It will be important to be able to access information without disengaging from the physical world.

To get people thinking about Glass and come up with new ideas, Google is making the "Google Glass Explorer Edition" available for pre-order to US-based IO attendees. $1500, will be shipped early 2013.

Android Developer Pack

All 6,000 attendees of Google I/O 2012 will receive:

  • Galaxy Nexus Phone (presumably the unlocked developer edition)
  • Nexus 7 tablet
  • Nexus Q

That's a wrap, thanks for joining.

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