A Developer’s Perspective of Google IO 2014

I was fortunate enough to attend Google’s Chocolate Factory IO Conference in San Francisco this year. There were a lot of big announcements this year as well as a push from Google on some design/technologies decisions.

Android “L”

While it is no surprise that there is a new iteration of the Android Operating system, what it contained was always a tightly kept secret. At Google IO 2014, Google announced Android “L” which boasts a new design, a paper like design created using “Material Design” (see below for more). Android “L” will be packed with over 5000 new APIs, ranging from APIs to wearables, automobiles, TVs and of course smartphones and tablets.

Couple of cool things that I found pretty interesting are:

  • Apps running on Android “L” will be using ART (Android Runtime) which should significantly speed up apps in part to its speedier and less frequent garbage collector. This will finally replace the default runtime Dalvik that’s been used since Android Froyo (2.2). Most applications should just work fine without change running under ART but to be sure check out Google’s documentation on Verifying App Behavior on the Android Runtime (ART).

  • Enhanced Notifications will not only allow developers to change look and feel of their notifications but will allow developers to add functionality to what users can do the notification. This is in no doubt to allow users with Android Wear devices to be able to interact with their apps via their smartwatches.

  • Android will also now support Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Peripheral Mode. Apps can use this capability to broadcast their presence to nearby devices — for example, you can now build apps that let a device to function as a pedometer or health monitor and transmit data to another BLE device.

For more information and to have a look at the developer preview checkout: http://developer.android.com/preview/index.html

Material Design

Google new look for all their products will come in the form of Material Design, which was inspired from paper. The new look uses the flat design look but incorporates depth by layering the elements on top of another. The design does not only cover the visual look, but also adds animated feedback for all UI elements. Which will make apps feel much more responsive to the user.Developers be able to assign various levels of elevation on the screen and the new framework render everything in 60 frames per second with correct perspectives and real time shadows using virtual light sources.

Checkout how Material Design looks here: http://www.polymer-project.org/components/paper-elements/demo.html#core-toolbar

Polymer

Polymer was unveiled last year at Google IO 13, but it is finally in a state that developers can start building applications for. Polymer is also the platform that will help Google push it’s Material Design look across the web. With Google’s Paper elements available for anyone to use, developers will be able to bootstrap their app with these web components. What’s more is that Polymer components also support two-way data-binding so that components can communicate to one another.

Checkout the Polymer project here: http://www.polymer-project.org/

Android Wear, Android TV and Android Auto

Android Wear, Android TV and Android Auto are the three new platforms that Google is pushing out with. Android Wear and Android Auto slimmed down versions of the Android operation system that have been customized to work more as extensions to the users smartphone rather than stand alone platforms, the work fine by themselves but gain a lot more functionality when paired to a user’s smartphone.

Android TV is another attempt by Google to get a platform into everyone’s Living Room, after the unsuccessful Google TV, the shelved Nexus Q and popular the Chromecast HDMI dongle. The Android TV platform is similar to Amazon’s Fire TV, by providing recommendations to the users content to which they might want to consume as well as adding voice input into allow the device to the control by voice.

For more info checkout: http://developer.android.com/index.html

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