Android will soon be everywhere: in your car, on your TV, and of course on your smartphone and tablet. Google showed a sneak peek at its upcoming version of Android, which will be released later this year, codenamed Android L. It has some nifty features such as a security mechanism that doesn’t rely on passwords, but instead checks for familiar things nearby, such as a paired smartwatch, to ensure that your phone is with you. It will also have buttons that react upon touch, notifications that stack over your wallpaper, and Google results that direct you to an app that you’ve already installed.
Speaking of paired smartwatches, Google unveiled two of the Android devices that are now available to order: the LG G and the Samsung Gear Live. The latter looks like an Android version of the Tizen range of smartwatches, while the former bears a similar style to devices that we’ve seen go before it. However, Google had another trick up its sleeve with the Moto 360, which will be available later this summer. It’s quite a fetching device with its round glass and stainless steel build.
Battery life is one of the common complaints of smartphone owners and, while many smartphone manufacturers have attempted to produce battery-saving apps and measures, Google will take it into its own hands. Project Volta is Google’s name for an overall battery-optimisation drive, and will be an official part of Android L, while there will also be a new power-saving mode that should eek another 90 minutes of life from a device’s battery.
Losing our smartphones is a major concern, especially if we have important files or photos on them. Android L will implement a kill switch feature, which enables owners to remotely wipe their smartphone and return it to factory settings. A similar feature has been implemented in iOS7, and many credit it with the reduction in thefts since the new OS was released.
Google will streamline its visual style across the web and mobile devices utilising a new design language called Material Design. This will see the same visual style applied across the web, Google’s Chrome browser, and all Android mobile devices. It will even apply to Google’s range of wearables. You can get a taste for Material Design on Google’s dedicated Design page and in the below video; it calls Material Design the result of being challenged to “create a visual language for our users that synthesizes the classic principles of good design with the innovation and possibility of technology and science.” This Material Design feeds into all other elements that were announced at the conference.
Everyone seems to be getting into the TV game and Google announced its own pitch for the living room space with Android TV. This new software runs on your TV or third-party set-top box and seems to combine the features of Google Chromecast and Apple TV. You can broadcast content to your TV, but also see a grid of popular content, apps, and games. Sony and Sharp are producing Android-powered TVs and set-top boxes, which should launch next year.
Not to be outdone by Apple, Google also announced Google Fit. This is a set of APIs lets app and peripheral makers feed data into a centralized fitness stream, so you can get all your metrics from one place.
Google had a wealth of announcements over the course of its lengthy conference. If you’re in the mood for watching the full thing, or just want to flick through the various announcements, you can see it below.