The 2013 Google I/O Developer Conference was a huge success. Along with many big announcements that made (or didn't make), it was filled with meeting great people from companies spread across the world, including Better Cloud, GQueues, Google Apps Marketplace, and many others.
The search giant focused on introducing new features of its existing online services and putting the spotlight back on you -- the Google Customer.
I am a huge Google fan (to say the least) so it was extremely exciting to see the direction of the company and the innovation they continue to push. Below are a handful of announcements that caught my eye and are worth following. I would love to hear your thoughts on I/O or some of their recent announcements in the comments below.
Since its inception, the social media platform from Google has been carrying this reputation of being the network for the “techy” folks of the web. With its new Pinterest-like look -- and a bit of Facebook-like feel -- Google is probably setting its sights on users from other networks by utilizing a more familiar layout and design.
In its quest to lure in more users, Google+ now sports a multi-column stream of updates to accommodate more info in one page. New photo enhancement features via Autoenhance and, probably one of the G+ features that’s been talked about a lot lately, the Auto Awesome.
Don’t take its name literally, Auto Awesome does not make you look more awesome that you already are. It does, on the other hand, create animated GIFs from any of your photos that are taken in burst shot.
Google Hangouts App
With chat apps getting more popular nowadays, Google decides that Google Hangouts is now mature enough to stand on its own. Previously, Hangouts were dependent on the Google+ platform. Now, it has a dedicated app for itself.
Your contacts are ranked according to the conversations that you’ve made to that person. Top spots are occupied by the group of people you frequently talk to or chat with.
Aside from the web, the Hangouts app is also available in Android and iOS.
Google Maps Overhaul
To up the ante even further on a market that it’s dominating, Google offers its desktop Maps user a new way to interact with the service. In fact, Google said that it has overhauled the app from “the ground up.”
If you’re lucky enough to be included in the beta phase of Google Maps, you’ll then notice that the system has now combined Google Earth and Street View under one platform. It means that the user experience has been improved to a whole new level.
Google Maps will also now give you a tailored map based on every search and click that you make on the app. Reviews, recommendations, and other related info about a place are incorporated with each click.
For mobile users, when using Google Maps on a smartphone, the service now gives you alerts when it discovers a traffic jam along your route, and at the same time giving you a new route. On tablets, the new “explore” feature is designed to help you find shops, restaurants, bars, and other places near your location.
Overall, the new mapping app from Google is designed to be more interactive than before.
Google Chrome Voice Search
Google is now bringing voice commands capability to the browser, which in this case, Google Chrome. And get this, it’s not just a one way thing, because the new feature is designed to talk back to you.
To get started with voice search, all you have to do is say, “Okay, Google.” Afterwhich, you can follow it with something like, “Where’s the nearest sushi place?” The results page is then relayed in a conversational manner.
Awesome, right? However, you’ll have to wait for this product to be integrated in Chrome soon, according to Google.
Google Play Music All Access
This might be one of my favorite announcements. The new service from Google is aimed at those users who’re into subscription-music sites like Spotify. Google Play is even priced at $9.99 per month, exactly like the one offered by Spotify.
To sweeten the pot, Google is offering an introductory price of $7.99 for anyone signing up before June 30. And of course, a standard 30-day free trial is also at your disposal.
Google Play Music All Access boosts a million of tracks that you can buy and share with anyone in your Google+ Circles.
You can access your music library, which you can store up to 20K songs for free, on your Android phone, tablet, or browser without the need to sync or connect with wires.
Google Play Gaming Services and APIs
For both users and developers who are into Google Play Games, Google adds a new feature that gives users a seamless gaming experience in multiple Android devices. It now allows gamers to play on phones and then resume their progress even if they transfer to a tablet.
Leaderboards, achievements, and other perks are also added to make gaming more sticky and social -- all shareable in your Google+ circles.
Developers will now have the ability to offer beta versions of their apps before it’s release into the general public.
Moreover, Google is now dedicating a section for apps that are optimized for tablets. This encourages developers to put out more apps geared toward Android tablets.
Google I/O 2013 Keynote
All in all, this year’s Google I/O keynote totaled 3.5 hours. If you don’t want to spend the same amount of time digesting the important highlights of the event, here’s a nice 3.5-minute video summary from the good folks at The Verge:
By looking at all these new Google features in one big picture, you’ll get a clearer perspective that the search company is trying its best to keep up with the ever changing online landscape, along with consolidating their services to make things easier for us, their end customer.
What do you think of all the new features and services from Google? What did you take from Google I/O? Where you there?
Image via Flickr by Tregoning