48 Hours of Google I/O 2012 in 480 Words

Don't have time to read through all the news, reactions, and releases from Google I/O? Here's the really brief version.

Google I/O! It’s a developer-oriented conference, but it creates a lot of public buzz. Haven’t watched the live streams? Want to avoid digging through reams of analysis just to get the gist? Then let’s get going; 435 words to go.

  • Android: Jelly Bean and Project Butter: Without admitting previous versions were slow, Google emphasized Android 4.1’s silky smoothness. Also in Android 4.1: automatic icon/widget re-arrangements, swipe-based shortcuts (“fling” apps up to remove), much better voice dictation, a predictive keyboard (like SwiftKey and Swype), accessibility improvements, and much better camera controls (with more swipe-style gestures). And a whole bunch of notification improvments: email previews, call missed messages back, interact with apps with two-finger “swipe downs”).

  • Nexus 7: Flagship 4.1 tablet is $199, the shape and rough size of Kindle Fire, but notably lighter. Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth, but no 3G, no camera on back. It’s a very, very nice device, coming from a guy who’s played with a lot of Androids. Responsive, clever, powerful, increasing range of good tablet apps, and apparently great for games.

  • Google Now: It’s not a response to Siri, it’s an attempted bypassing. See it in action. Search Google, voice or otherwise, because it knows you and what you really want: traffic times on your commute, upcoming appointments, flight delays, nearby food you’d like, and, yes, Siri-like answers to data questions.

  • Nexus Q: It’s beautiful, intriguing, weird, probably not profitable living room streaming device. It streams only Google Play Store content (or uploaded music), controlled by another Android (or parties full of them). It seems music-oriented, has lots of audio output options, but it’s $299, and requires a total Play Store allegiance.

  • Google Glass: Subject of a crazy-exciting keynote demonstration, then quietly tucked into the future again. Developers can pre-order for $1,500 and receive in early 2013. I got to try Glass glasses on. They’re light, ambient, fairly obvious, and intriguing.

  • Chrome on iOS: Despite the increasing Apple/Google tension, Chrome is in the App Store. It’s intentionally made slower, but also magically synchronous with desktop/Android Chrome.

  • Drive goes offline, also on iOS: Both are quite handy. One was one of my fantasy picks!

There’s one day left at I/O, but no keynote tomorrow. Attendees picked up really nice freebies, and are, Google hopes, developing across many platforms. There are free Sour Patch Kids, just never enough.

What’s wrong? The new clean desk test
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