Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Reporter Notes: Google I/O - 900 Million Androids, Richer Services

Google showed off dozens of innovations that advance its mission "to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful."

Key themes of this year's Google I/O event in San Francisco include the massive growth in Android and Chrome OS in raw numbers and adoption of APIs, a more unified experience between core Google services, further evolution of its core search, and rapid growth in its cloud resources.  On the communications front, Google is pushing to make its free Hangouts service into the unifying interface for real-time voice, video, texting and photo sharing communications.

Some reporter notes from Google I/O on Wednesday:

  • Google has reached 900 million Android activations.
  • New Google+ Hangouts will be the interface for realtime communications across the Google platform.  Google says its goal is to get technology out of the way so that people can "just hangout" and not think about the medium of communications, the devices, the platforms, or other factors that get in the way today.  Messaging, including voice and video to other Google users and groups of Google users, is a free service.  Google circles are used for setting up the call.
  • Launched  Google Play Music All Access  -- a subscription service featuring extended recommendations, playlists and guidance based on Google analytics. The service is priced at $9.99 per month in the U.S.  Key differences with other subscription music services is that Google can leverage personal data from its other services to generate more accurate recommendations.
  • There are now 750 million active users of Chrome and a lot of Chrome growth is coming from mobile devices.  Data compression on Chrome for Mobile can save users 50% on their monthly bandwidth usage. The WebP format is about 30% more efficient than JPEG. The VP9 codec offers about a 50% reduction in file size compared to H.264.
  • YouTube will implement VP9 later this year.
  • New Chrome APIs for the mobile web are being released enabling developers to leverage the same resources.
  • Google Play has 48 billion app installs.
  • Google Play Services includes new or enhanced APIs, such as Maps API,  Location API, Fused Location API, Geofencing, Google+ Sign-In, Google Cloud Messaging, etc.  The company's goal is to get its services widely embedded by third party developers across all device platforms.
  • New Google Play Game Services APIs are being released for connecting multiple devices, playing with friends from Google+, storing scores and playing data, posting on public leaderboards, etc.
  • The Google+ social media service adds 41  features including a new "stream" interface that is about better design and greater depth.  This leverages cloud-generated hashtags that Google will insert automatically into posts based on content analysis, location and image analysis.
  • Google Photos is adding many new features that use cloud-analytics to sort photos and enhance images.
  • Google Maps is introducing new discovery and rating capabilities aimed at mobile users.  There is a new interface for both mobiles, tablets and desktops that is personalized, offer media-rich experiences, is context-aware,  and offers comparative directions with public transport and real time traffic conditions.
  • Google Maps APIs are used by more than one million active sites and apps, and are reaching one billion unique visitors every week.
  • Google's Cloud service has generated tremendous interest, said Urs H√∂lzle, Google's senior vice president for technical infrastructure, for its VM and storage capabilities.
  • Google Compute Engine (GCE) is now available for open signups in preview.  The company is introducing new flexible billing options, including per minute pricing.
  • GCE has increased the maximum size of persistent disks from 1TB to 10 TB.
  • Cloud Datastore has more than doubled in past 11 months and now handles 4.5 trillion requests per month.
  • Google's App Engine now has 3 million active apps running.
  • Google is now adding PHP to its App Engine. This provides the ability to run WordPress sites in the Google cloud. Google can scale to multiple instances in under a second.
  • Google Compute Engine now supports software-defined routing capabilities.  This might be useful for configuring VM instances to function as gateways, configuring VPN servers and building applications that span a local network and Google’s cloud.  Google cited its pioneering SDN implementation on its own network.
  • Google Compute Engine now has ISO 27001 Certification.  App Engine and Cloud Storage have also been certified.

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