Google announces new enterprise features, “Drive for Work” program, Slides app for Android and iOS

During its annual developer conference today, Google announced several new enterprise features that are coming to Android with its “L” update and a new “Android for Work” program. Thanks to a plethora of new APIs, the “L” version of Android will be able to seamlessly unify personal and business apps and data. Google claims that currently, many employees are required to carry two phones: one for work and one for personal use.

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Google announces new Chromebook features including Android app integration

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Today during its annual I/O conference, Google announced that its Chromebook platform has eight OEMs and 15 devices in 28 countries. Google says that the top 10 highest rated laptops on Amazon are all Chromebooks. The company says it’s aware that most users carry a smartphone while using their laptop and to bridge the gap between both platforms, Google is introducing a feature baked into Android’s L release that will automatically unlock your Chromebook when nearby.

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Google talks Chromecast: Casting without WiFi connection, new Backdrop feature with news, weather, photos, and mirroring

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Not only did Google discuss Android TV at Google I/O, the company also discussed its Chromecast HDMI stick that connects content from your smartphone, computer, or tablet to your TV. Rishi Chandra, Google’s Director of Product Management Chromecast, noted that the Chromecast “consistently outsells all other streaming devices combined” at Best Buy and similar retailers. He pointed out that Chromecast tops Amazon in a several countries as well. Since its launch last year, usage has jumped 40% with the majority if views coming from YouTube. A new dedicated site at chromecast.com/apps will now present a list of compatible apps.

Using “the cloud”, Chromecast users can now share content from devices to a Chromecast-connected television without being on the same WiFi connection. A new feature called Backdrop coming later this year will present information like news, weather, and photos on a blank Chromecast to make it useful to have connected to your TV even when you’re not sending content from a device. The Chromecast will also support mirroring from Android on supported devices from HTC, LG, Samsung, and Nexus devices. Read more

Google details more about Android Wear, full SDK available later today

On stage at its Google I/O developer conference, the company talked wearables, as we expected it to. Google says that Android users check their phones “an average of 125 times a day,” so the company hopes that Android Wear paired with various wearables will help cut down on this number. Demoing it on an LG G Watch, Google showed more details about the Android Wear interface. The company also announced that starting today, the full Android Wear SDK is available to developers. Most importantly, Google announced that the LG G Watch will be available on Google Play today, although a price is still yet to be determined. The company also announced that the the Samsung Gear Live will be available today, as well. The Moto 360 will be available later this summer.

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Android Wear-powered LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live available today, Moto 360 launching ‘later this summer’

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During the I/O Keynote, Google announced that LG’s G Watch and newly announced Samsung Gear Live will be available today on the Play Store. These two new Android Wear-powered smartwatches are going to be an exciting advancement for wearables. The Samsung Galaxy Live will be available for $199 and LG’s G Watch will be priced at $229.

Along with that, Google announced that the Moto 360 smartwatch will be available “later this summer.” It’s unclear why Motorola wasn’t able to launch alongside the two smartwatches mentioned above. No pricing was mentioned for the Moto 360.

If you’d like to pickup an LG G Watch or Samsung Gear Live, they will be available for preorder on the Google Play Store around 4 p.m. PDT and ship July 7th, 2014.

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Google announces Android Auto connected car platform

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Building off its work with the Open Automotive Alliance, Google has just announced Android Auto. This new platform is a retooled version of Android that lets drivers safely use their connected apps and mobile services while on the road. Google says it researched what apps people were looking for while in their car and placed a major focus on navigation, communication and music.

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Android “L” will include Factory Reset Protection (kill switch) and Universal Data Controls (privacy) to enhance security

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At Google I/O today, Sundar Pichai specifically discussed security innovations happening on Android as it builds an open platform that innovates quickly. Pichai used this as an example to jab at Apple’s iOS 8 for only now introducing alternative keyboard and widgets as Android has had the features for years. Pichai said that “less than half a percent of users” ever experience any issue with malware on Android. He also noted that 93% of Android users are on the latest version of Google Play Services which updates every six weeks. Pichai also announced features coming to Android “L” including a kill switch and universal privacy controls. Read more

Google announces over 300 million active mobile web users

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Today at I/O, Google’s director of product management for Chrome,Avni Shah announced that the company has over 300 million active users on its mobile browser. Based on the company’s new Material Design, this refreshed version of Chrome features new animations that move at 60 frames per second. One of the new features coming to mobile web is the addition of Recents being able to display Chrome tabs for fast access.

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Google announces Project Volta & Battery Saver to vastly improve battery life on Android

Today towards the end of its keynote address previewing its upcoming Android L release, Google announced software enhancements coming in the release that will vastly improve battery life. Dubbed “Project Volta”, Google has new tools for both developers and users that will increase battery life and optimize software on devices to be more efficient.

Google showed off a new tool called Battery Historian that will help quickly identify a system task that might be draining battery. The company said it’s already been using the tool to make Google Apps more efficient and hopes it will improve instrumentation of battery data for all. It also has a new Jobshceduler API that will allow a device to better allocate system tasks when users might be low on battery.

Lastly, Google has a new Battery Saver mode that allows things like clocking down CPU, turning off background data, and other tasks that are hard on battery life. The feature can be triggered manually or configured to come on when battery is low. Google said the Battery Saver can offer up to an extra 90 minutes of usage on a Nexus 5 for a typical day.

“L” version of Android to drop Dalvik, introduce new Android Runtime with better performance, graphics

While introducing its “L” release of Android on stage at Google I/O, the company announced that this version of Android runs on the ART, or Android Runtime. Previous versions of Android ran on the Dalvik runtime, but the “L” version of Android is dropping it in its entirety.  Googler David Burke introduced this change on stage and said that the switch to ART should make Android run “twice as fast” as it did with Dalvik. Burke also said that developers won’t have to make many changes to switch to ART.

ART is a 64-bit runtime that includes a variety of changes. It’s designed to support a mix of AOT and JIT, and is cross-platform with support for ARM, x86, and MIPS. ART is much better for “garbage collection,” Burke said, in addition to being better about managing RAM. Graphic support is also much improved with ART. It supports graphic qualities like tessellation, geometry shaders, and many other things designed for gamers. Burke remarked that “You’re going to see new high-end tablets and phones with PC gaming capabilities.”

As part of the new ART-based operating system, Google introduced Project Volta, designed for improving battery life.
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