Google sets sights on TVs, cars and watches

Last updated 12:54, June 26 2014
WATCH THIS: Dave Burke, director of engineering for Android, announces the Google TV at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.
Reuters

WATCH THIS: Dave Burke, director of engineering for Android, announces the Google TV at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.

Google has unveiled far-reaching plans to push further into the living room, the family car and the TV set.

As part of a nearly three-hour opening presentation at its two-day developer conference in San Francisco, Google gave more details about Android Wear, a version of the operating system customised for wearable gadgets such as smartwatches. 

The company also introduced Android Auto, which has been tailored to work with cars. 

ABOUT TIME: Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps, speaks about wearables during his keynote address at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.
Reuters

ABOUT TIME: Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps, speaks about wearables during his keynote address at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.

Android TV, meanwhile, is optimised for TV-watching, aided by a recommendation system and voice searches for things like Breaking Bad or "Oscar-nominated movies from 2002."

About 6000 developers, bloggers and journalists flocked to the event.

Following Google's recent revelation that showed that just 30 per cent of its employees are women, the company touted that the number of women attending its conference grew to 20 per cent this year from 8 per cent a year earlier.

WATCHING THE CLOCK: David Singleton, director of engineering for Android, announces the new Samsung Android Wear smartwatch at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.
Reuters

WATCHING THE CLOCK: David Singleton, director of engineering for Android, announces the new Samsung Android Wear smartwatch at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.

The event was interrupted at several points by protesters who were quickly escorted out.

Google has been the subject of disapproval for its use of shuttle buses to ferry its employees from San Francisco to its Mountain View headquarters. The buses have become a symbol of the divide between Silicon Valley's tech millionaires and those left out of the latest boom.

Google's I/O event -a rally of sorts designed to get developers excited about creating apps and devices for Google's ecosystem - comes at a time of transition for the company, which makes most of its money from advertising thanks to its status as the world's leader in online search. 

RUN PROGRAM: Ellie Powers announces the new Google Fit development platform at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.
Reuters

RUN PROGRAM: Ellie Powers announces the new Google Fit development platform at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.

The company is trying to adjust to an ongoing shift to smartphones and tablet computers from desktop and laptop PCs. Though mobile advertising is growing rapidly, advertising aimed at PC users still generates more money.

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At the same time, Google is angling to stay at the forefront of innovation by taking gambles on new, sometimes unproven technologies that take years to pay off - if at all. Driverless cars, Google Glass, smartwatches and thinking thermostats are just some of its more far-off bets.

On the home front, Google's Nest Labs - which makes network-connected thermostats and smoke detectors - announced earlier this week that it has created a program that allows outside developers, from tiny startups to large companies such as Whirlpool and Mercedes-Benz, to fashion software and "new experiences" for its products.

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Sascha Prueter uses a game controller to demonstrate the features of the newly-announced Android TV at the Google I/O developers conference.

Google employee Michael Woodward talks about the newly-announced Android Auto to conference attendees.

Attendees play a check-in game to win prizes by tapping their NFC-enabled Android smartphones at the Google I/O developers conference.

A Google employee demonstrates the features of the Moto smartwatch at the Google I/O developers conference.

Google employees show off the two different colors of the Moto smartwatch at the Google I/O developers conference.

Attendees, some wearing Google Glass, watch a keynote address at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.

A Rube Goldberg inspired machine counts down the time until the start of the Google I/O developers conference.

Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps, speaks during his keynote address at the Google I/O developers conference.

Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps, speaks during his keynote speech at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.

Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps, speaks about wearables during his keynote address at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.

Ellie Powers, Product Manager for Google Play, announces the new Google Fit development platform at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.

David Singleton, director of engineering for Android, announces the new Samsung Android Wear smartwatch at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.

A Google employee demonstrates Android Auto onstage at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.

Avni Shah, director of product management for Google Chrome, speaks during her keynote address at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.

Dave Burke, director of engineering for Android, announces the Google TV at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.

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Integration with Mercedes-Benz, for example, might mean that a car can notify a Nest thermostat when it's getting close to home, so the device can have the home's temperature adjusted to the driver's liking before he or she arrives.

Nest's founder, Tony Fadell, is an Apple veteran who helped design the iPod and the iPhone. Google bought the company earlier this year for US$3.2 billion.

Opening the Nest platform to outside developers will allow Google to move into the emerging market for connected, smart home devices. Experts expect that this so-called "internet of Things" phenomenon will change the way people use technology in much the same way that smartphones have changed life since the introduction of Apple's iPhone seven years ago.

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Dressed in Star Wars garb, Shandra Bernath-Plaisted protests outside the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.

A protester chanting 'Google, develop a conscience' disrupts Google's Engineering Director Dave Burke's speech during his keynote address at the Google I/O developers conference.

Dressed in Star Wars garb, Bryce Miller-Williams and Shandra Bernath-Plaisted protest outside the Google I/O developers conference.

Wearing Google Glass, Klint Rudolph waits in line to attend the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco as activists, hang a banner on the parking structure outside the event.

Shirley Beal pickets with other demonstrators outside the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.

Rosa Penate pickets with other demonstrators outside the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.

Demonstrators protest outside the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.

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In March, Google released "Android Wear," a version of its operating system tailored to computerised wristwatches and other wearable devices. 

Although there are already several smartwatches on the market, the devices are more popular with gadget geeks and fitness fanatics than regular consumers. 

But Google could help change that with Android Wear. Android, after all, is already the world's most popular smartphone operating system.

At I/O, the company announced three new smartwatches running Android Wear. The LG G and the Samsung Gear Live are available from today (in the US). A third one, Motorola's Moto 360, is coming later this northern summer - an announcement that drew groans from the audience, which had hoped for an earlier date.

Intent on reaching the billions of people who don't have a smartphone or even internet access, Google also unveiled an initiative called Android One, designed to help manufacturers build low-cost smartphones for emerging markets such as India.

The company also showed off features of the next version of Android, which goes by the temporary code name "Android L." It's been designed to work across all devices as long as the gadgets are running the operating system, so a user can check email on a smartwatch, answer the message on a smartphone and then delete it on a computer, for example.

Android L will also look different, include more animation, colours and a feature called "material design," which lets developers add shadows and seams to give visuals on a phone's screen the appearance of depth.

 - AP

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