Google I/O is arguably one of the biggest and most important independently hosted conferences in the world of technology. I/O is a developer based event but tech enthusiasts from around the world flock to the conference to see all the amazing things Google has to show off. This list comprises some of the coolest things shown off at I/O that could potentially change the future.
Native split screen multitasking and Vulkan support
Split screen multitasking was first made available on Samsung smartphones. Since then many companies have implemented a similar approach on their products and even Apple recently introduced splitscreen on their iPads. Google’s move to include this natively on Android N means that essentially all applications can be utilised in a split screen mode on all Android phones running N. This not only gives developers greater incentive to build splitscreen optimised apps but increases their reach on to different Android skins.
Vulkan, to put it simply, is a cross platform 3D graphics API that allows developers to create more vivid and realistic scenarios with increased detail but reduced load on CPUs and GPUs. Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge were the first smartphones to be optimized for the API. Vulkan is quite literally the future of mobile graphics and its improvements over the previous industry standard (OpenGL) make it the clear choice for the next generation of mobile games.
Virtual Reality (VR) is basically the “next big thing” in the tech world. To get a decent experience, you’ll need something like a Gear VR unless you wish to fork over north of a few thousands dollars. Android N will release with a built in VR mode and smartphones coming this fall will be optimised for VR with specifications that will allow sub 20 millisecond latency to prevent motion sickness. Google will soon release reference hardware for a VR headset and controller which will be the foundation for mobile VR. They also showed off a VR environment through which you will intuitively interact with your phone’s software. The controller is a compact module that works a lot like a Wii Remote in the sense that it translates hand motion into the VR world.
Android Apps on ChromeOS
This one was a long time coming. Google’s Chromebooks recently outsold Macbooks in the first quarter of 2016, indicating a general shift towards more affordable and lightweight processing machines instead of the over-the-top powerhouses that the general population really does not need. Chromebooks offer a very fast and responsive experience but its app selection has held it back. In 2016, Google will introduce the Android Play Store to Chrome OS allowing users to run any Android application on their Chrome OS device in a window-like mode just like an application or program on Windows. This all works natively and is not emulated meaning you get the full power of the CPU, GPU and RAM for a fast experience. This move instantly made Chrome OS ten times more appealing and will pave the way for interoperability between Android and Chrome OS.
If you own a smartwatch, you will know the inconvenience of such a small screen especially when it comes to interacting with content on the screen. Project Soli under Google’s ATAP labs is revolutionizing interaction with the world around us with the help of a RADAR sensor built into your smart devices. What this allows is fine gesture recognition which is translated into actions. For example if you wear a smartwatch with the sensor, you could bring your hand close to the sensor and use a twisting motion to scroll through your apps or notifications. This tech could be used in a number of place such as in cars, speakers and essentially any interface where natural interaction would be beneficial.
All these are just a small part of the amazing things shown off at Google I/O. The annual conference this year has provided us with an idea of how the near future could be shaped and once again demonstrates how Google is at the forefront of the technology world, leading with new innovative ideas and creativity.