One useful thing actually coming to your phone from Google I/O 2013

A lot of Google's announcements at its I/O conference were developer-related, and long-term. This one thing is neat and needed.

Credit: Image via TechHive's I/O 2013 Liveblog.

This year’s Google I/O was a bit different than previous years’, to say the least. There were some important things, some big changes to Google Talk/Chat/Hangouts and Maps, but something was missing.

As compatriot JR Raphael points out, there was hardly anything coming to your phone right away. Almost nothing that the folks at home could look at and say, “Oh, neat, I’ll love using this!” Unless you were looking for a way to spend $650 on an unloacked phone in late June, there seemd to be nearly no real upgrade headed to your handset.

Hardly, almost, nearly: I’m hedging on one neat feature: synchronized multi-device notifications. So if you get a ping on your Android phone from an app, and then quickly dismiss it? It’s dismissed on any other Android devices you might have, whether powered on or not. No more turning on a tablet with the fear it will blast you with everything you “missed” since last using it. That’s great for users, and it allows developers to also get a bit device-specific with the pings they send out.

There were, in fact, other updates for developers that will make their way to phones eventually: “geo-fencing,” which allows apps to notice when you’re near a certain area on a map and do something about it; upstream notifications from devices, which allows for more interactive uses; and lots of game developer goodies.

But if there’s one thing from I/O that is going to make Google’s server prowess, near-universal accounts, and synchronous way of thinking work to the advantage of Android users everywhere, it is this: no doubling up on past-due notifications. Small thing, long time coming.

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