Google recently held its annual developer-focused conference, Google I/O, to announce some updates and news. The conference started the same way as previous years with Google talking about Android’s growth over the past year. According to Google’s Senior VP, Sundar Pichai, Android now has 1 billion 30-day active users on the platform. This year, the conference covered smartphones for the developing market, a new cross platform UI (known as Material Design), the next version of Android with its L Developer Preview, Android Wear, Android Auto, Android TV, Android for Work, Google Cloud, Google Fit, and more.
Here are a few things that enterprises should know from Google I/O 2014:
According to Google, “less than 10% of the population has access to a smartphone.” The company aims to change this statistic with its introduction of Android One, a standard for affordable devices. The Android One guidelines help cut down on the cost and time required to quickly build an affordable smartphone. Manufacturers such as Micromax and Karbonn are working on the first set of devices for India that will start at less than $100.
The major thing to take note is that Android One allows Google to dictate the minimum hardware requirements for manufacturers around the world to create smartphones for the developing market. This will ensure that devices are meeting minimum specifications while allowing the company to get more phones to people across the world.
L Developer Preview
At the keynote, Google showcased the next version of Android with its L Developer Preview. The next version will have over 5000 new APIs and focus on form factors beyond mobile. The new interface showcases Material Design which is a design that will cover mobile, tablets, the desktop, and beyond. With Material Design, Google has created a unified set of design guidelines and tools to make customized typography, grid, and color changes. The preview also included enhanced notifications and context-based authentication features in addition to a new Android Extension Pack that will support 3D graphics. In the demonstration of the new authentication method, a user could use a watch to unlock his smartphone and when the watch is moved away, the phone is protected with a code.
Since battery life is important, Project Volta was created to include a new battery saver mode to improve battery performance by up to 90%. The preview also included news about better support security features, including malware protection, universal data controls, factory reset protections, and security patches. Context came into play when the preview showed how the L version allowed for users to move from screen to screen, which is similar to Apple’s continuity and handoff features. The new interface, enhanced notifications, authentication features, battery saver, the ability to move from screen to screen, and increased security will be beneficial for employees using an Android device for work.
After previously introducing Android Wear a few months ago, Google demonstrated how the Android Wear SDK could work with wearables. Users could swipe across Google Now cards and other apps from a paired smartphone and also use voice to create notes and other reminders. Android Wear uses Google Now to give users relevant contextual information while on-the-go. Wearable technology that will work with Android include the LG G watch, Samsung Gear Live, and the Moto360. Android Wear can be beneficial to enterprises with a large mobile workforce by providing helpful reminders and other information to employees anywhere they are. Besides wearables, Google introduced Android Auto, a way to use connected Android apps and services in the car. In addition, the company is also coming to televisions with Android TV with an interface that reacts to a viewer’s usage patterns. To learn more about Android Wear, Android Auto, and Android TV, check out this blog post on context and Google I/O. The main takeaway is that Android will be on more screens whether it’s on your wrist, in your living room, or in the car as shown in the video below.
Android for Work
Google showed that it wants to make Android more business and enterprise-friendly with the announcement of the Android For Work program that aims to separate business and personal data on a single device. Because of a new set of APIs and underlying data separation, Android L will enable a seamless user experience for home and work applications. Businesses will benefit by being able to deploy apps to users in bulk. In the Google Docs suite, one great feature for enterprises is the introduction of Native Office Editing, which allows users to open and edit documents with a native format Office compatibility Mode in Android and Chrome browsers. Google also introduced a premium option of Google Drive that will cater to businesses. The premium service, Google Drive For Work, will offer features such as encryption in transit and on-server, enhanced admin controls, audit and activity APIs, and unlimited cloud storage for $10 per user per month. This plan allows users to store files up to 5 terabytes in size. Android for Work and Google Drive For Work can help employees at enterprises keep personal and business data secure and improve productivity.
With the introduction of Google Fit, it looks like Google will be going up against Apple’s Health and HealthKit. Google Fit integrates data from multiple devices and applications to provide a unified view of a person, which is similar to Apple’s Health.
Google I/O mostly focused on technology that would impact everyday consumers, but there were still features and programs that were introduced that can help enterprises. New features in the next version of Android can help employees such as enhanced notifications, increased security, and more contextual information. The introduction of Android for Work will probably be the main program that has an impact on enterprises. Enterprises can look forward to more efficiency and increased productivity from these announcements.