May 15, 2013, 3:46 PM — Google's I/O developers' conference today, while a 3-hours-long affair, was jam-packed with interesting announcements across all of the company's products. Here are a few highlights of the ones both regular people and developers can make use of.
Android: Google announced several new APIs for developers to make their apps easier for people to use. Maps and location services, for example, will have a new low-power location-tracking mode, so your smartphone will use much less battery with location-enabled apps like navigation (less than 1% of battery life per hour, to be exact). You'll also be able to sign on to multiple devices just once and sync notifications across them all, which can be a time-saver for multiple Android device owners. A new Google Play Game Center will feature real-time multiplayer and leaderboards, a new monthly music subscription (think Pandora) called Google Play Access for $10 a month, and a special Samsung Galaxy S4 running stock Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) are also in the works.
Chrome: Google pointed out how new video codecs and compression technologies will make the mobile experience faster and overall much better.
Google+: The company's social network got many upgraded features across Hangouts, Photos, and more. First, the design is being revamped for more interaction and eye-candy effects. Hangouts will offer group chat across all devices and platforms. But my favorite of the upgrades is the intelligent photo capabilities. Instead of having to sift through all your photos and edit the best ones individually, Google+ will take care of that for you, with auto enhancements and a featured album of your best shots. The photo technology is pretty amazing, with auto recognition of major landmarks and similar things in the background, which Google will include in the Google+ photos search results.
Google Search: The search news was perhaps the most impressive, showcasing "conversational search" where you can ask Google something (e.g., first search for a location, then say "OK Google how far is it from here" to get timing/distance estimates). You can ask Google a question and it will speak the answer back to you, and also set reminders by voice. A few other new Google Now additions include public transportation search and new releases for books, music, video games, and TV shows.
Maps: Finally, Google has integrated Google Earth with Maps to bring more in-depth details (and even explore the world in 3D!). When you search and click on Google Maps, you'll find additional information with a tailored map so you can find the best local places (based on your clicks, reviews, and Google+ friends' recommendations).
In short, it was a very impressive display of new innovations--ones that will actually make a big difference for users of these products and not just geeky Google Glass wearers.
Learn more about the announcements so far from Google I/O at Google's official I/O press page.
Read more of Melanie Pinola’s Tech IT Out blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Melanie on Twitter at @melaniepinola. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.