Google introduces a new generation of Android

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Google unveiled a slew of new updates and features for Android devices at its Google I/O annual two-day developer conference in San Francisco Wednesday.

From connecting cars to TV platforms to wearable software that runs three smart watches, the future is here and we’re impressed with Google’s game.

  • Android TV– the platform will feature live and replayable TV shows and movies, and will include a recommendation system and voice searches. Android TV will work on TV giants such as Sony and Sharp, and with the Google Chromecast streaming device.
  • Android Wear - While the concept of smartwatches is still relatively new, Google is pushing the platform forward with three new smartwatches running Android Wear. Samsung Gear Live and LG G are available now, and Motorola Moto 360 is coming later this summer.
  • Android Auto - Google is giving Apple a run for its money with Android Auto an interface that incorporates navigation, communication and streaming music. Already, 40 automakers have signed on and the first autos may roll off the lots this fall.
  • Android One - a phone program aimed at emerging markets, including a low-cost smartphone, which will run under $100 and roll out first in India.
  • Nest - The Nest developer program is trying to lead the way in smart homes, its new API lets developers connect apps and devices to the Nest smart thermostats and fire alarms.  But, it seems Nest won’t let third parties get access to the motion sensors on its thermostat and smoke alarm, so your privacy won’t be (completely) compromised.

As developers, we were waiting impatiently to hear about the next version of Android, which goes by the temporary code name Android L. It will work across all gadgets running its operating system – smartphones, computers and smartwatches, much like Apple’s integration between iOS and OSX.

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With improvements to Google Cloud, developers can debug a live application running on hundreds of servers, including Cloud Monitoring, Cloud Save, Cloud Trace and Cloud Debugger, and set alerts for various events to monitor performance.

The Android look is changing too – there’s more colour, larger type, fluid motion, more animation and a feature called Material Design, which allows developers to add depth to a phone screen by adding shadows and seams.

Designers will also be given assisting tools, such as baseline grids and a palette-selection tool that pulls colours from the content of an app, to help them push their apps from mobile to desktop and other Google-supported platforms.

New design features will include what Google calls "hero" elements, which can be passed between screens, and real-time user interface shadows.To help developers with the new approach, Google has created a unified and comprehensive set of design guidelines.

Android is focusing on its graphic technology with its new runtime and the Android Extension Pack (AEP), which supports texture compression, tessellation, geometry shaders and more. For all the new Android releases discussed in Google I/O 2014, you can find the announcement here.

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