Back in January, I boldly made five predictions for 2013. Some of you though I was crazy, as my highest prediction was the rise of Google.
Google is hardly a small player in the world of technology, but some of you may have noticed their services are getting more integrated. YouTube edges closer to Play Video, Google+ deepens its native integration with Authorship, Gmail and Profile, Android Devices are out selling other Mobile Operating Systems’ at accelerating rates, and enhancements to Maps, Search and Drive put them frequently into our daily lives. The launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4 early in the year has only accelerated Android upgrades and penetration. Google is seriously taking over.
My new TV runs on Android, with Smart technologies built in that bring the Mobile OS power to my lounge room. Skype, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ with facial and voice recognition are now build into another screen in our daily lives.
This week marks Google I/O, their largest event of the year. And Google used it to drop a metric ton of themselves all over us. Sorting through it press releases, keynotes and product demos, it’s clear that the company’s not just trying to put new goodness into the world; it’s trying to blow plenty of existing products and services out of the water. Driving extreme relevance in things we use EVERYDAY. Here is a brief summary from Gizmodo, all everything that are taking aim at:
GroupMe, Skype, All Other Chat
Starting with Hangouts. They announced a new chat app today, which is for conversations (text, photos, albums), between one person or, more importantly, groups. It’s on the web, iOS, and Android, and has a ton of group features. Video chat (for the whole group, and free) is obvious, but it gives you notifications for everyone in the chat. It’s unified chat in a way that Google hasn’t done before, and in a way that should make popular cross-platform apps like GroupMe very nervous.
This one’s obvious, but they announced Google Play Music All Access, a paid subscription music service. You’ll be able to sign up for the service, which will be linked and integrated to your Google account better than existing third-party providers ever could be, and listen to full tracks, store them, or just play internet radio. Right through your Google account. Spotify, Pandora, and Rdio all have their cross-platform ubiquity in their favor, but remember: Google is everywhere.
PayPal, MasterCard MasterPass
Google’s new idea for mobile payments, using Google Wallet, is to autocomplete all the fields that mobile stores ask for. Your address, your credit card, your billing zip code. All of it stored in your Google Wallet account. We’ve seen this novel idea from MasterCard before, and PayPal’s offered similar for ages, but if you’re automatically logged in as soon as you sign into your phone, well, why would you use something else? Not only that, but they slipped in that Gmail users can email money to each other, like an attachment. PayPal, watch out.
Classrooms haven’t gotten smarter at the same rate as the trinkets in our pockets have. That’s been obvious for years. Google announced a new platform to buy apps, textbooks, and videos for schools, right through the Google Play interface. Google apps have been in a lot of colleges, but setting up a platform that lets school admins buy content (through funded balances, instead of credit cards), and push it to every student in the district, is a pretty compelling idea.
The coolest nerd service thing of the day might have been the announcement of the new unskinned stock Android Galaxy S 4. Party time! But the subtext there, maybe, is that Google knows the skins that manufacturers shove onto their phones aren’t how people should be using Android. And the more choice we have on these flagship devices, the better off we’ll all be. I personally love this, as I’m a huge fan of the Nexus line of devices.
It’s the storage. Google+ upped your max to 15GB storage (from 5GB) for your full size photos on Google+. You still get infinite storage for standard size, but what matters for Flickr is that Google is moving in on the full res territory it had staked out in its fight for its life against Facebook. A unified storage bin is pretty attractive, especially if it keeps working with the big, professional file sizes.
Photoshop for Newbs and iPhoto
Google+’s new Auto-Awesome and photo enhancing stuff is aimed at people who don’t know much about editing a photo, but know enough to know that there’s cool stuff that can be done. If it works properly (and we’ll have a hands-on to tell you), it will touch up every single photo you upload, fixing wrinkles and exposure and red eyes and the like. More over, it will do this automatically, so there’s much less chance this feature will just fall forgotten to the side, like so many things do.
Google’s new conversational search is wildly ambitious. It’s also a pitch we’ve heard before. Talking to your phone or computer like you’d talk to a real assistant (a word Google used throughout the presentation) is what Siri was supposed to be. But Siri’s real problem was always that it was just, well, a bad search engine . You think that’s going to be a problem for Google?
Basically, millions of people will try new Google features and products over the coming month that not only streamline Google services, but they create an engagement level never seen before, and this is a good thing for everyone. Google is still based on the idea of open source, so their services remain open ecosystems, unlikely Apple’s.
Most of the new stuff its totally brilliant. Most of my life is already in Google services, my mobile’s run Android, my businesses on Google Apps. So I gain huge amounts out of these announcements. Kudos.