Android L, Smartwatches, And Material Design: The Best Of Google's I/O Keynote

Google revealed its plan to redesign itself from the ground up.

Google took to the stage in San Francisco to roll out most of its big plans for the year. Some were great, others less so. But between the Android update, its burgeoning smartwatch platform, and its never-ending quest to conquer your living room, there was plenty to chew on. Here's the best (and the rest), of Google I/O 2014.

Android:

The Best: Google's announcement of Android L may look like a redesign with no new features, but the design is the feature of this latest Android update. At its core, Google's new Material Design language is about making Android more human and approachable. There are the clean, card-based layouts, the bright, simple, color schemes, and the playful, physics-based animations when you interact with the OS. But it's not just Android that will get the Material Design treatment. In time, all of Google's products, platforms, and services will adopt the look and feel of this.

The Rest: Google has plans to make Android and Chrome OS work together more seamlessly, which will include the ability to run Android apps in Chrome OS. It's a logical progression for the combining/aligning of the two platforms (despite the fact Google for years insisted it wouldn't do it), but there are still a lot of question marks as to how well this will work.

Android Wear:

The Best: Google's smartwatches are finally here. LG and Samsung both have devices that are now available, and consumers finally have some smartwatch options that, at the very least, aren't a total insult to our intelligence.

The Rest: How good are those smartwatches really? That remains to be seen. What Google showed today wasn't immediately mind-blowing, and the UI wasn't quite as beautiful as we were hoping, but some of the more contextual, Google Now-powered tricks could reveal their true value over time.

Android TV and Chromecast:

The Best: Google is again trying to win over your living room, this time with Android TV. Despite its past streaming TV failures (and they were prominent failures), Google's persistence is noble, especially since no one has fully figured out this Internet TV box thing quite yet. And the best news is that Google Cast, which powers the cheap and adored Chromecast streaming stick, will make its way into all Android TV devices.

The Rest: Google showed off a bunch of cool Chromecast demos, including the ability to cast your Android screen to your TV (which, when combined with your phone's camera, has the potential for fun) that at least show Google hasn't forgotten about the $35 stick quite yet. That said, exactly what is Google going to do with two TV platforms?

The Best of the Rest:

  • Google's health-focused Fit platform made an appearance, but the main reason it was mentioned today was to attract developers and hardware partners. Us mere consumers will have to wait.
  • Android Auto is perfectly fine. But to be honest, this could have (and should have) been done years ago.

[Illustrations via Google Design]

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