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June 27, 2012

Google’s Big Announcements for 2012

A couple of weeks ago, we profiled the big changes and new products announced at Apple’s yearly developer’s conference. Yesterday, June 27th, Google held it’s annual developer’s conference called Google I/O (for input/output). As with Apple, Google uses this yearly event to unveil the latest software -and this year, hardware- available from the company. Google’s keynote did not disappoint, offering updates and new releases in a variety of areas including mobile, social, and new hardware. Highlights from the event include:

Android operating system

  • There have been a total of 400 million total Android activations, with one million devices activated per day. The Android app store, Google Play, features 600,000 games and applications which have been downloaded some 20 billion times.
  • Google announced the latest version of Android, 4.1, code named Jelly Bean. The new OS will be available on select smartphones mid-July and will offer performance enhancements, an updated search experience including voice search, and updated keyboard and notifications systems.

Nexus 7 Tablet and Google Play

  • Google also announced a new tablet, the Nexus 7. Manufactured by Asus, the device runs Android 4.1 and has a 7″ display. The tablet can be purchased directly from the Google Play store for $199- a price point competing with Amazon’s Kindle Fire.
  • The Google Play store has expanded and offers more entertainment across film, television, and magazines. Video partners include Disney, Bravo, and NBC Universal, while Google partnered with Esquire, Wired, and Family Circle to launch magazine availability. These additions make the Google Play store a more formidable opponent for Apple’s iTunes store.

Social Network Google+

  • The Google+ app received a significant update, and is available on Android now and has been submitted to the iTunes store for availability on iPad.
  • The same updates made to the Google+ tablet app are also available for Android smartphones. The experience offers users the ability to view their content stream in landscape mode, similar to the current mobile Facebook app.
  • Google also announced Events, a new feature for Google+. The feature was designed to help users with all aspects of hosting an event: before, during, and after.

Google Glass

  • Google announced updates to it’s forthcoming augmented reality project, Google Glass, with an elaborate skydiving demonstration. These network-enabled, computerized ‘glasses’ allow users to take first-person videos and pictures, and also include a video screen to display information. While the product is not consumer-ready at this point, developers attending the conference were given the exclusive ability to purchase a preview device for $1,500.
Google’s most recent announcements show innovation and practicality- two key factors it will need to continue to compete with Apple in the mobile space. What do you think about Google’s latest innovations?