Google I/O Keynote Offers Movie Purchases, Google Glass Demo
The high-flying demo included a new tablet, a home audio and video player, and details on the new Android operating system release.
This will be a difficult keynote to top. Today's 2 hour 15 minute Google I/O conference keynote address featured a thrilling demonstration of Google Glass, the company's prototype wearable computer, that included parachutists reaching the roof of San Francisco's Moscone Center from an overhead blimp, as well as Google's first home AV product, the Nexus Q, a bowling ball-shaped device that makes music and video playing social. While nearly all of the announcements had been leaked ahead of time, the keynote was still plenty exciting.
The highlight of the event, Google's fifth annual I/O conference, was the official release of the Nexus 7 tablet. Packing a great deal into its compact shape, it made the Apple iPad look unnecessarily large and expensive by comparison. The Nexus 7, built by partner Asus, will run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (officially announced today), and includes 12 GPU cores, a front-facing camera, a gyroscope, an accelerometer, and a battery good for 9 hours of video playback. The demonstration included a look at optimized YouTube HD videos. The tablet is available now for pre-order, and will ship in mid-July. The price is an affordable $199, which also get the buyer a $25 Google Play credit.
Google Play, the company's app store/multimedia distribution center, gains movie purchasing starting today. Formerly, it only offered rentals. Shoppers can also now purchase TV show episodes or full seasons. Backend improvements speed up the app updating process by only downloading the changed parts of an app.
The riveting Google Glass demonstration should have even skeptics clamoring for one. While still in development, Google Glass is a wearable computer that looks like a pair of glasses and positions a small screen just above the right eye. It also includes a camera, processor, microphone, speaker, gyroscope, and compass. Uses include live streaming photos or videos of exactly what the wearer is seeing, or using voice input to call up information instantly. U.S.-based conference attendees were given the chance to pre-order an early version for $1500, which will ship early in 2013. These will essentially be beta units, allowing Google to capture feedback.
The Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system, available in mid-July as an over-the-air update, will include smoother scrolling and screen animations, predictive text input, impressively fast photo review, and the ability to beam photos or videos to another Android device with just a tap. It will also deliver Siri-like voice search and Google Now, a new technology for delivering geographically-based advice automatically, including directions to appointments and specials at a restaurant.
The Nexus Q will certainly be a must-have device for Android device owners. Shaped like a bowing ball, it connects to speakers or a TV for audio and video playback. It has almost no controls. Instead, the owner's Android device is the controller. Owners can control audio and video playback (including YouTube videos) with their phone or tablet, and visiting friends can do the same. Google promised no authentication or configuration hassles. While the mobile device controls playback, content is streaming from Google Play in the cloud. The Nexus Q is available for pre-order now for $299, and will ship in July.
The keynote also marked the one-year anniversary of Google Plus, the company's social network, and announced a new Google Plus Events feature that improves the experience of sending invitations and viewing photos for an event. Events' Party Mode feature can show all the photos taken at an event in real-time, then put them in chronological order afterwards, for everyone to enjoy.
The keynote was streamed live over YouTube, with the number of viewers nearly hitting 100,000 at peak. Anyone hoping for Google TV improvements was out of luck. Google TV wasn't mentioned once.
Opening day keynote address highlights Google's commitment and plans for HTML5 video.
As predicted, Google announced a subscription music service. Surprisingly, it looks a lot like the other subscription music services.