Google took the internet by storm years ago with a super-fast search solution and has continued to be a leader in creating innovative tools allowing non-programmers to create sophisticated solutions to get results.
Dick and I have been attending the DC simulcast of Google's I/O three-day event underway in San Francisco – and they are unveiling some truly advanced Android devices and applications.
Here's some highlights of new software, applications, and hardware:
Google Plus Hangouts (video conferencing of up to 10 people), has been enhanced with a business meeting app – Symphonical – and two social apps Event – to schedule meetings and social events complete with invitations - and Party Mode – which permits sharing of pictures/video before, after and real-time during the event by any of the attendees. These are all free and can be accessed at Google Play. Easy to use video is a powerful tool for business – for meetings, demonstrations, training and other show & tell sessions, in addition to a 'live stream' of events to a public audience.
The next generation of the Android operating system – Android v4.1, Jellybean, and a new Android phone – the Galaxy Nexus – combine for a new level of productivity and simplicity. Google Search learns from your keyboard strokes and accessibility for users is upgraded. Voice Search is included in the function and will return results by audio as well as screen text and video. The phone has a simple new gesture – the flick – just like you'd flick a bug off your shirt, will delete what's on the screen (deleted items can be easily recalled).
You can also use Voice to dictate text, chat, and emails when in that function. Since all smartphone voice apps suffer when not connected to servers, Google brought their voice engine down to the phone. Keeping track of appointments and other interests is done automatically through Google Alerts , by popping up note cards with all the relevant details – it can be an appointment, airline flights, or current score for your team.
The Nexus 7 Tablet using the new Android 4.1 OS (built by ASUS with delivery expected in mid-July) was introduced with a 7-inch HD screen, 9-hour battery life, and a $199 price tag – what a treat! The Nexus 7 has a fast 3-core processor and 13 other background processors – for a total of 16 CPUs speeding through the material for quick display and smooth transition.
For entertainment, you can read ebooks and documents; read magazines – uniquely formatted to have the look and feel of the paper publication, with context links throughout, thumbnails of articles for the reader to 'leaf through' to find articles of interest; view pictures and albums; and videos, movies, TV shows, and YouTube; listen to music from personal collections and internet providers.
For business and other tasks, you can read and write email, browse the web, read and update your blogs, access your Google Plus and hangouts (forward facing camera for the video), do detailed search by text and voice, and get pop-up notification cards automatically for upcoming appointments and other items of interest.
Carrying forward the social aspects of the phone and tablet, Google has developed the Nexus Q which is an in-home collaborative media streamer device and amplifier connected to your best speakers and TV. You can pull pictures, videos, music, art, and other entertainment items from anywhere in your extended network – by swiping your Android phone or other NFC-function device across the Nexus Q. In addition guests can share their entertainment libraries with a simple swipe across the Q as well.
The Chrome browser now can sync the browser settings, bookmarks, and recent search results across multiple platforms – computer, tablet, phone – and automatically optimize the format for the device. So, you can access a search result done on your home computer from your Android phone while you are mobile instead of making a paper copy of the screen as you go out.
A key to all these advances is direct access to the Google Cloud – material is stored or held in the cloud for access by any of the Google-based devices. This aids to flexibility of access of your content and documents, as well as facilitating collaboration among team members or others by giving focused access to specific files.
A preview of what's in the works shown at the conference is Google Glass – a wearable computer. This is a device, is a pair of eyeglasses that has a computer, camera, audio receiver, and heads up display, so you can access the internet, a hangout, or snap pictures or videos of what you are seeing. To introduce this prototype device, Sergey Brin (co-founder of Google) staged a parachute jump to the roof of the convention center with an elaborate 'pony express' style delivery of a pair of these glasses to him on stage. All the while, the screens showed live video of what the delivery participants were actually seeing (using Hangout technology). An exciting event.
There were three quotes that nicely sum up the philosophy of these developments in computer tools:
Larry Page (co-founder of Google): “Have a healthy disrespect for the impossible.”
Vic Gundotra (Google SR VP Engineering): “The best thing is for the computer to have your back – then you don't have to worry about it.”
Clay Bauer (Google Director Chrome Development): “What we want is that it works without you even noticing.”
As these advances roll out, we will find business applications for them – to get better results, or to do something that was not practical (or possible) before.
What do you find most relevant for your operations from the new features offered by Google?