What We’ve Learnt From Google I/O 2013

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Google I/O 2013 drew to a close late on Friday night, bringing to an end three days of typically newsworthy announcements and a whole load of talking points. Like every year, the Moscone Centre in San Francisco played host to drama, surprise and confusion in a style that only Google can provide.

So, with one of the biggest and most revered developer conferences packed down and stored away for another year, what have we learnt from the Mountain View company this time around? Most I/O events usually give us a clear view of where Google may be taking us over the next twelve months, and despite doing things a little differently this time, 2013 seems to have followed suit.

Android OS

Slowing down the innovation  – part one

One of the main attractions of the I/O event is invariably the unveiling of another Android iteration. These updates have been announced with regularity approaching clockwork for several years, and have often been the focus point of the whole conference. And, following the advancements made by Android Jelly Bean last year, similar results were expected.

Except they didn’t arrive. Despite Android Key Lime Pie all but confirmed as the next software iteration, and post-I/O reports suggesting it will drop in the next month or so, a lack of announcement suggests the company is looking to temper expectation for the future.

Whilst the software may well be ready to go, there’s every likelihood that Google just won’t be able to keep innovating at the level it has been when it comes to software, hence the lack of bumper software announcement at this year’s conference. Android 4.3, an incremental update briefly mentioned, will have to do us for now, and this may be the way forward in future, with small improvements stopping the increasingly large gaps between major updates.

This would hardly come as a surprise, with Google’s software innovations in the last few years being both numerous and highly impressive. Indeed, when you’ve produced Google Now, new maps and tweaked overlays, where is there to go immediately after? It could be that the company’s enthusiasm has caught up with it, and a more reserved approach will become the norm.

S4 Nexus

Slowing down the innovation – part two

We realise that we’ve already covered this, but it looks like a slowing down in cycles could also apply to hardware as well. With I/O being Google’s favourite place to launch all manner of handsets and tablets, its lack of releases this year was a major talking point, and could signal several changes to the way the company operates.

A lack of a brand new Nexus device suggests that, despite one likely to appear later in the year, the company is not in such a hurry to update its stock. With the current Nexus 4 only launching in October and still selling like particularly hot cakes, why rush another just for the sake of it? It’s a worthy question, and one that Google has rightly answered.

Secondly, it seems the company has realised that, to satisfy such demand, it can just take popular existing handsets and “Google-ify” them rather than doing all the hard work itself. Making a Samsung Galaxy S4 Nexus edition is possibly the world’s greatest brainwave, and will no doubt prove massively popular upon its release, and it could be the first step towards minimal effort/maximum results strategy for the company when it comes to hardware. Meanwhile, a white Nexus 4 will also maintain interest in the current crop of hardware.

But, when you’re producing such things as Google Glass, you don’t really need to think too far outside the creative box, do you?

Play Music

It’s not afraid to make sweet music

As it proved with cloud storage, maps, Google Now, and Gmail, Google has never been  put off by a bit of competition, and is never afraid to dive into the most competitive of markets. As a result, the news that it’ll join the music service game means that, as with most things, the “go hard or go home” strategy will probably bear fruit.

Despite the fact Google Play Music All Access will go up against the likes of Spotify, Rdio and any forthcoming creation from Apple, it has armed itself in the best possible way to succeed. Rather than just a limp expansion to the existing Play Music collection, this is a dedicated and ruthless attempt at dragging customers through its digital doors, and it’s one that stands every chance of proving highly successful.

After all, you don’t ensnare three of the world’s biggest record companies in the world if you just want to tick a box, and Google’s dedication to dominance in every area will be a key factor in the expected success of its music service, and whatever else follows. It’s not afraid of anything, and it proved it again this year.

Google Plus

It still wants to stay social

Despite it proving more complicated than an ultimate Sudoku to work out, it looks like Google is persisting with Google+ even in the face of the several obstacles. Having announced an updated look for the social networking site it seems the company is keen to make it a key part of its plans, and will continue to breathe life into it whether customers like it or not.

Having launched it back in 2011, the uptake of the social network has been patchy to say the least, with many choosing to stick to Facebook and Twitter despite the close integration with other services offered by Google+. Yet, even in the face of stubborn adversity to change, it seems the company will continue to steer its users towards the platform, and these new changes are designed to encourage growth.

With a new look and improvements to Hangouts and picture integration, Google is determined to make users see what it believes is a social network full of promise, and it perhaps has even more tricks up its sleeve to get this done in future. This proves interesting in that, despite having several successful arms in many different areas, the company wants to stay social, and bring people round to its way of thinking. It’s not essential, but it all goes towards the best experience possible.