Google announced a number of innovative new products and services at its 2013 Google I/O developer conference this week.
Google held its annual I/O developer conference in San Francisco this week, and as usual it pulled out all the stops. While many of the most-notable announcements were developer specific, Google also released a number of updates and enhancements to its core products that are relevant to casual users. The following slides detail the coolest products and service unveiled at Google I/O 2013 for everyday Google users.
New Samsung Galaxy S4 with "Pure" Android
The most exciting new product announced at Google I/O 2013, at least for gadget geeks, is the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S4 with "stock Android," or a version of the mobile software that does not feature Samsung's TouchWiz software. The new GS4, which will be available via Google Play later this summer, is designed to provide the same Android experience as Google's Nexus devices, but on Samsung's popular hardware. Unfortunately, the $650 price of the unsubsidized handset will very likely be a turnoff for many.
The New Google Maps for Desktop
Google completely redesigned and revamped its desktop-based Google Maps service, and the new version is expected to be publicly available this summer. I, along with the thousands of other I/O attendees, was fortunate to get an early invite to use the new Google Maps for desktop, and I can say without a doubt, it will be worth the wait. The new Maps interface is intuitive and well-designed, and Maps are now personalized for specific users based on past searches, preferences and more.
Google+ Hangouts Enhancements
Google released a number of cool new enhancements to its Google+ social network, not the least of which is the completely revamped Hangouts feature. It's easier to initiate Hangouts, thanks to a dedicated icon for Android users, and your conversations are now preserved for as long as you want them. You can also instantly launch a group video chat within the Hangouts app.
Google Chromebook Pixel
The Chromebook Pixel isn't brand new, but the high-end, Chrome-OS-powered laptop is now in the hands of a lot more people. Google handed over more than 6,000 free Pixel computers to I/O attendees in an effort to inspire developers to create new apps and service for Google's OS. The Pixel touch screen has "the highest pixel density of any laptop," according to Google. And it has a built-in LTE radio. (Learn more about the Chromebook Pixel on Google's website.)
Google Music All Access
Google is trying its hand in the subscription music business with the brand new Google Music All Access. The service costs $10 a month, and it's designed to help you find the music you want at a given time, and also discover new, similar music you'll like based on your own music picks and your friends' recommendations. (Read more details about Google Music All Access here.)
Google+ Image Enhancements
Another notable new feature in Google+ is auto-enhancements for images. Now whenever you upload images to Google+, the service automatically finds and touches up the best pictures to make them even sharper. And a new feature lets you combine a series of photos to create action sequences.
New Google Search - 'The end of search as we know it'
Google envisions the perfect search tool as a modern "Star Trek computer" that speaks and instantly answers your questions with precise information and anticipates follow up queries. With the latest version of Google's search, the company took a significant stride toward realizing its vision. With the new search, which will be available "soon," you simply say "Okay, Google"--no need to hit a voice icon--and ask your question. Google responds with what seem to be remarkably accurate responses.
Google Play for Education
Google sees tablets as the future of modern education, and its betting big on Chrome and Android in the education space with Google Play for Education. The new section of the Google Play store is tailored for educators, and it provides quick access to books and video content to groups of students or individuals. Play for Education is expected to launch this fall.
(Image of Google's Sundar Pichai, SVP, Android, Chrome and Apps, announcing Play for Education.)
Google first announced its "Glass" wearable computer a year ago at the 2012 I/O conference, and even though it didn't release any significant Glass-related news at this year's event, the quirky gadget was still everywhere. Hundreds of Google employees and developers who are part of the "Glass Explorers" program--and who were willing to drop $1,500--waltzed around I/O with their heads held high and Glass-es proudly displayed. (Read more details about Glass here.)
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