Google is currently holding their annual I/O summit, which is their equivalent of Apple’s WWDC, in where they bring in the media and dump all kinds of new reveals on them and the public. Most of the major news coming out of today’s I/O conference are unsurprisingly related to Google’s mobile OS, Android. It seems our little green friend has all sorts of updates coming down the pipe that any fandroid would appreciate to have on their Android devices. Considering that Google announced that they have activated 100 million Android based phones since its inception I’d say a large group of geeks are having a field day with all of today’s Android news.
One of the most compelling updates coming down the pipe for the Android OS is the fact that its tablet specific OS, Honeycomb, is getting updated to version 3.1 for Xoom users today, and eventually for Google TV adopters later this Summer. Honeycomb 3.1 will bring a bevy of new features for Xoom adopters, and any other device that sports Android’s tablet OS. Users will be able to import camera pictures directly to their 3.1 devices, use USB based peripherals such as Xbox 360 Controllers, scale their widgets to any size without losing image quality, an improved task switcher, and the ability to rent movies from the Android Market.
Get Your USB On in Honeycomb 3.1
All of these additions to Honeycomb should make the tablet OS more useful than it was at the Xoom’s launch. Unfortunately, they may be a day late and a dollar short considering that the Xoom launched back in January and has seen awful sales figures due to its unfinished Honeycomb OS. Regardless, it’s refreshing to know that Google is hard at work improving all levels of their mobile operating systems.
I’m not that thrilled about a movie service, because I have yet to ever rent a movie from iTunes or Zune on my Xbox 360. This is a personal preference, so I’m sure some of you movie geeks will be jacked that you can now stream flicks to your Android devices just like your Apple fanboy friends, but it’s nothing that is super innovative. How about Netflix? I do dig the addition of USB device support, which is something I wish the iPad 2 would accommodate, but I still love Apple’s tablet, so I’m not having any regrets about sleeping with the enemy.
Google didn’t just dish on their tablet platform today. They also showcased the newest OS for phones, which has been officially dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich. What I like about this announcement is that Google really focused on the fact that this OS should help to bring about some form of standardization in regards to all of their partners. At this point in time there’s still fragmentation in Android hardware that doesn’t allow for easy OS updates to be pushed out.
Mmm.. Ice Cream Sandwich Droids
For example, Gingerbread (Newest OS) has been out for quite sometime, but only a few of the Android phones have it installed. People like me (HTC Thunderbolt) are still waiting to get a crack at it, and by the time it actually ships I’m sure Ice Cream Sandwich will be all the rage. I think it’s fair to say that this staggered update model blows, so I’m glad Google is looking to improve this situation in ICS.
Ice Cream Sandwich is helping to bring standardization to the army of Android based devices through its “one OS that runs everywhere mantra”, but it’s also adding some cool new functionality. Namely in the form of 3D support with Kinect like facial tracking. Imagine your phone’s camera tracking everywhere you look, because this is essentially what it’ll do. If you have a Kinect this functionality should be easy to imagine, but if you don’t you should head on over to this link and watch a demo. ICS will also allow Android based devices to interact with other appliances ranging from exercise equipment to weather devices. Basically, it’ll allow two machines to talk to each other and exchange data that the user can utilize (Think heart monitor, or Skynet).
ICS Facial Tracking and Device Integration
With all of these lovely Android updates coming out of Google I/O 2011 I’m starting to wonder when our gadgets will overthrow us and take over the World. This really is an exciting time to be a geek, because it seems like new technologies are popping up nearly every 4 months. With companies like Google and Apple pushing each other to come up with the next big thing we the consumers will end up reaping the benefits in the end. I’ll be keeping a close watch on both my Google TV and my Thunderbolt to make sure I get their respective OS updates installed as soon as they’re pushed out from Google HQ. Until then get yourself caught up on all of the details and vids from Google I/O by checking out some of the links below. You’ve been feasting on some Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich updates…
Google I/O Conference 2011 Coverage
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