Google IO 2013: games, music & maps
Google kicks of its big developer conference, Google IO 2013, with exciting new features and products
Every year Google announces all of its headline products and services for the coming year at Google I/O and this year’s keynote speech, while bringing a host of stunning new announcements, might end up being better known for what wasn’t mentioned – any new versions of Android.
The exciting elements so far are a new music streaming product, Google Music Play All Access, a new gaming platform for Google Play, a new education portal and a host of improvements to the already amazing Google Maps.
Google Galaxy S4
Google have announced a special Google version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 running Android 4.2 and only available through the Google Play store. This accounts for the rumour that a new Nexus 4G phone was due to be shown off, as the Google Galaxy S4 is effectively that.
As with any Nexus devices Google is promising to roll out updates for these special versions of the Samsung Galaxy S4 as soon as possible.
It will be sold for $649 SIM unlocked with no bootloader lock, which effectively enables hackers, developers and enthusiasts to install whichever version of Android on it they like.
Google Music Play All Access
It’s a new monthly streaming music subscription service, much like Spotify, which lets you listen to millions of songs across all of your devices. It’s like a custom radio station where you can make your own stations from favourite artists or genres of music.
It will cost $9.99 a month, or if you start a trial by 30 June you’ll pay only $7.99 a month.
Google Play Games
Google has generally been bigging up Google Play, and with 48 billion downloads it’s on the verge of overtaking Apple in terms of store size.
But to improve its gaming offering Google is launching Google Play Game Services for iOS and Android.
Using a Google+ account, any game that ties into the system will offer automatic cloud storage saving work across devices, cross-platform leaderboards, achievements and multi-player gaming.
Demonstrations were shown for all of these aspects, but later an experimental Racer game running on its Chrome browser not only showed off the multi-player capabilities, but also a game that uses the screens and speakers of multiple devices to create a much larger playing area.
New Google Maps
After the issues with the Apple’s newly launched iOS6 Maps, Google has established itself as the best mapping solution on the block.
It showed off a slew of new features that are now live for mobile and due to be launched to the desktop, and one of the new features includes the ability for users to personalise and edit maps.
When looking at locations Google Maps will attempt to show places and road details it thinks will help you and you can edit the maps providing details on missing roads, maps and places.
There’s also a new cards display, similar to the Google Now results, which provide details of places in a much clearer and friendlier manner.
Directions have been improved too. When you request directions it will now show alternative routes that include public transport links with estimated journey time. Navigation has always taken delays into account, but now the system will attempt to automatically route you around incidents.
Maps aren’t stopping there. Photo Sphere, which is built into Android devices, will now enable you to create your own Google Street Views by using 360º images.
Users will be able to create their own tours and then upload them to Google Maps. During the presentation the audience were shown a tour of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City that had been generated by user photos. So if you’ve always wanted to see inside the famous monuments of Rome, but don’t want to move off of the sofa, now you can.
To get a preview look head to the Google Maps page here.
Google Play for Education
Apple has made great inroads into the education sector with the iPad, and Google wants a slice of the action.
To do this Google has revealed Google Play for Education, a programme that will offer a combination of the Gogole Nexus tablet and a specially devised section of Google Play for Education.
Educators will be able to easily send apps to all their students at once, purchasing bulk licenses on school dimes. Expect the programme to launch in autumn 2013.
More, more, more
Much more was announced at the keynote, but much of it was connected to helping developers create better apps for adjusting to different screen sizes, and languages with tools for handling upgrades and taking feedback.
Ultimately it’s going to result in far better app experience across all your devices.
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