+Sergey Brin on technologies like +Google Glass that are work-in-progress tools not likely tied to new deliverables targeted for later this year, though a cute cardboard virtual reality goggle headset - a swipe at Facebook's billions spent on Oculus Rift? - seemed to be a statement that long-term development of new platforms will be kept press-quiet at events such as I/O until there are real opportunities for developers to rock product platforms. It also meant that media-oriented services like +Google+ that have no real hooks for developers didn't get a single keynote mention, even though Google+ services such as Hangouts are likely to factor heavily into fall product introductions.
Web apps on these devices and on +Google Chrome browsers and Chrome OS devices get an updated looks also courtesy of Google's new Polymer development toolkit for Web apps, which will allow Chrome-launched apps to look very similar to Material Design-based Android apps. The seamlessness of the Web/mobile experience is enhanced by integrated notifications - get your SMS/battery updates on your Chromebook, for example - and by updates to the Googlecast engine that will now enable content to be shared from mobile apps to TV screens easily via Chromecast.
Web apps in general didn't get strong emphasis in the keynote, but workshop sessions highlighted more tools that make it easier to make Web-based apps on Android platforms, supplemented by the ability to launch native mobile apps from mobile Chrome browsers. We're not quite yet to the point of having a Chrome-first mobile device beyond Chromebooks, but you can see that this evolution is marching on. Also higlighted was a preview of Android apps running on Chrome OS - the popular Evernote and Flipboard apps were shown, indicating that Google wants to fill the gaps between Web apps and native Android apps with Android software on Chrome OS, but hopefully convince apps makers that the Polymer toolkit will eventually make Web-first apps the key to success on both Chrome and Android. It's also a way to close the gaps between Chrome OS and Windows 8 - now popular Android apps like Skype not available in a Web format could run on Chrome OS, eliminating potential Windows 8 advantages for enterprise and education customers. Add in a preview of editing native Microsoft Office documents in Google's Docs editor - and then saving them back to a native Office format - and Microsoft no doubt will continue to have Chrome OS market share nightmares for a long time.
Android Wear devices are compatible with any Android device rnnning 4.3 Android or higher, so most current Android phones are good-to-go with Wear. Wear apps are out-of-the-pocket oriented notifications and services with touch and voice commands, aware of what mobile devices are nearby that your actions on Wear devices can complement. For example, fire up a recipe app on Android Wear and your nearby Android device will display the recipe details in a larger format. Scroll through the details on Wear, and the phone follows along. +Chris Pirillo and I had an exchange on Google+ in which he complained that wearables are redundant, and he's right - but it turns out that Google understands that people want redundancy and coordination as a key platform feature. Android as a platform is now less about specific devices and more about multi-device, seamless, signal-driven contextual experiences. driven by common APIs, software and development standards designed to make it easy for developers to write apps that adjust to other Android-equipped platforms and contexts easily and, often, automatically. Android Fit is a new apps development programme that can also take advantage of this seamless, context-driven environment, enabling health gadget suppliers to be a part of the Android ecosystem more easily with signal-driven products and services.
+Sundar Pichai announced the debut of Android One, a "pure" AOSP version of Android targeted for sub-$100 phones that are popular in developing nations. Like Google's premium +Nexus Android devices, Android One devices will feature regular AOSP updates directly from Google, helping to reduce the cost of developing software for these devices. However, unlike Nexus devices, Android One phones can be tailored to specific markets more easily, enabling Nexus One to enter countries where issues such as Internet filtering and banking regulations may affect how particular services are delivered. It will be interested to see if an intersection between Google's Project Ara modular phones and Android One creates new opportunities for sensor-driven services in these market that can drive economic opportunities.
For folks who like remotes, this Android TV is a good package, though if you have a Chromecast already, there's not much you won't be able to do on your TV screen anyway, given Chromecast's new Android app screencasting. The main new factor in Android TV that could upset the content world is the ability of Android TV to support native multiplayer, multiscreen games via smart phones and tablets. The titles demoed at I/O were not heavy on fancy graphics, but with the graphics-intensive capabilities of Android "L" waiting in the wings and another demo of cutting-edge game graphics on Android "L" earlier in the keynote address, it's only a matter of time - and probably not much time - before game producers get more tuned into the Android bandwagon - just about the time that Apple will try to do likewise with its upgraded Apple TV offerings, no doubt.
While much media production is still focused on flagging down our attention with mass-audience appeal, The Signal Economy driven off of platforms like those debuted at Google I/O this year pushes media in the exact opposite direction - towards minimizing interactions with distractions so that we can focus with what services like Google know through signal-gathering are important to us in the moment in the exact place that we need them - maybe even two places at once. Marketing conversations in this environment are much less about creating mindless social media streams and much more about "what kind of topping on your pizza?" popping from your smart watch as you're checking the traffic for the ride home. The "get to your gut" advertising approach in this environment gives way to sensors actually monitoring what's happening in our gut. More adjustments are head for publishers as more marketing spending moves into this signal-rich environment. Good luck, folks, it's going to be an interesting year ahead in media and technology! If we can help you sort out your strategies in The Signal Economy, do let us know.