“We want to get the technology out of the way, so you can live, learn, and love.” – Vic Gundotra
This was constantly repeated during the keynote, and was the driving force behind all of the updates we were about to hear. For a software developer, Google I/O represents more than just a conference – it is an unveiling of the future that guides our development. The overall message from this year’s Google I/O was centered around enabling developers to create amazing, fresh experiences, and it definitely meshed well with Immersion’s own UX-driven development.
This year, Google presented a wave of tools and new experiences that left so many developers speechless. For Immersion, this includes (but certainly isn’t limited to) Google Play Game Services, Google Maps, Developer tools, and the newly unveiled Samsung Galaxy S4 running AOSP.
Gaming has always been very important to Immersion. Since the days of the console, we have always strived to make gaming a much more immersive and realistic experience. When games made their way to smartphones, we treated the smartphone as a gaming controller. Beyond this, the smartphone platform enabled new types of games that allowed us to take gaming up a notch with haptics.
Today, Google presented Google Play Game Services – a service that enables achievements, leaderboards, cloud save, and real-time multi-player gaming. Needless to say, we are extremely excited to see what types of games developers create using this service infrastructure and that we can improve by providing even more creative experiences with haptics.
Maps was presented as a major improvement over the current Google Maps implementation. Aside from a complete redesign, Google essentially rebuilt Maps from the ground up to enable a more personalized experience. For example, each user is able to have their own Google Map with a personalized set of frequent POIs. Additionally, discovery of new destinations are even further improved by also including reviews from Zagat, built into the main Map display of the application.
My favorite aspect of the next version of Maps is the use of crowd-sourced photos to enable virtual photo tours of remote sites in such high quality that you feel like you are there. The immersive characteristics of this easily catch our eye as it creates a sense of realism – from thousands of miles away.
One of the biggest hindrances to writing apps for Android has always been testing across a variety of device sizes and types. With the latest Android Studio, developers can now quickly see how their apps will look on a wide array of supported devices through Google’s very own Intelli-J adapted IDE – made for Android app development. From the short demonstration I saw, this tool looked extremely clean, quick, and provided all of the most useful information for an app developer, as well as for a UX designer.
Additionally, the Developer console was far improved to enable increased app downloads worldwide. With an analytics dashboard built into the Developer console, developers are now able to see where they are missing potential markets. Coupled with the analytics are optimization tips that interpret some of the analytics information and provide a summary of what we can do to gain further adoption.
Samsung Galaxy S4 on AOSP
Each year at Google I/O, the device giveaway is mostly what the developers are waiting for. Developers are eager to find out what the new standard Android development device is. While there were no new device announcements this year, that didn’t mean all of the developers weren’t drooling at the thought of the newly released Galaxy S4 running AOSP. Samsung’s latest flagship means gorgeous hardware for developers. Running AOSP means a true Google experience from head-to-toe. The two put together creates the most desirable type of device available for developers to test and run their apps on.
The Google I/O keynote was about much more than devices this year – it was about how we, as developers, can use the newly minted tools that Google has provided us to create new and powerful experiences and solutions for people worldwide. At Immersion, we follow this same mantra. Whether we actively work with every product in the world or not, we actively strive to apply great UX to great products. The keynote today unveiled many mechanisms for many of their products and platforms that enable developers to do just this – and that is what makes us excited for the future.
At the end of the keynote, Larry Page said something that resonated with me:
“We should be building great things that don’t exist” – Larry Page
Ricky Bhatia, Senior Software Developer