One of the most important summer events in Silicon Valley – Google I/O – is over. This year the conference gathered participants at 597 locations in 85 countries and 6 continents, and over one million people watched the event online. Google I/O (Innovation in the Open) focuses on building web, mobile, and enterprise applications with Google and open web technologies such as Android, Chrome, Chrome OS, Google APIs, Google Web Toolkit, App Engine, and more. As I heard from a lot of tech professionals, Google likes to keep its secrets. And such a spectacular event as Google I/O conference is a good way to glimpse into what the tech giant is up to these days.
Google is shooting for low-end market
As it appears from the speech Google’s Android chief Sundar Pichai, the company wants to concentrate its efforts on mass smartphone market of third world countries. Pichai showed an example of an Android device, which has double SIM card option and build-in FM radio, and costs less than $100. Google has seen massive growth in Android usage – it has been doubling each year. In 2014, Android has over 1 bln 30-day active users. Google’s goal is to reach another 5 bln people over a course of the next year.
Pichai introduced an initiative called to reach mass market of developing countries. “We’ve been working hard on our ecosystem for the very important initiative, which we call Android One. With the fast paced mobile industry, they have to build a new smartphone every 9 months. So we want to pull resources and help everyone”, he said. Android One is a turn key solution for smartphone manufacturers and carriers to create products more quickly by taking advantage of free software provided by Google. The initiative will be launched this year in India.
Google wants to control your “mobile, desktop and beyond”
By setting industry design standards across devices, Google wants to control what web developers create and how users browse through web. Google has presented the Android L preview for developers during the conference, showing off a huge chunk of its work and presenting its plans for the future of the industry.
“Design is essential in today’s world. It defines your experiences and your motions. So we challenged ourselves to create a design not just for Android phones and tablets. We work together with Android and Chrome across all of Google to craft one consistent vision for mobile, desktop and beyond”, says Matias Duarte, Director of Android operating system User Experience at Google.
Duarte presented so called material design. Google designers drew inspiration from paper and ink to craft virtual “material” that can “expand, reform and reshape intelligently”. “The L preview will allow app developers to easily colorize all framework elements to match the theme to your brand. And we’re previewing a new support library we call “Palette” that allows to easily extract colors from images and to really put those pictures in front and center. We’re giving designers familiar tools like baseline grids that work across screens”, says Duarte. Also, Google offers guidelines that allow developers adapt UI across devices to match design around all platforms – from phone and tablet to browser and TV screen. By giving away this high-end tools that required big investment, Google is definitely ensuring expansion of its services.
Google has tapped into the competition at the innovation at scale
Clearly, introducing new possibilities of its services, Google is trying to beat its competitors by faster and smarter innovation process management. “We aren’t building a vertically integrated product. What we are doing is building an open platform at scale. We work with hundreds of partners globally to bring a product and a platform that touches billions of people. And we want to do it in a way, in which we are innovating at a very-very fast pace”, Pichai said. He also explained that Google ships Play Services updates every six weeks, which is more frequent than what competitors, such as Apple, do. “By shipping it every six weeks we can iterate faster than typical OS release cycle”, he said.
With this approach, Google managed to take over the world’s tablet market. Android accounts for 62 % of all tablet usage in the world. App installs increased by 236 % in 2013, and the company is going to ship over a billion mobile devices next year.