Tech's big four - Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon - all focus on software and developers this time of year. First was Microsoft's BUILD conference back in April, but in June we've had Apple's WWDC, Amazon's Fire and just last week Google I/O in that mecca of all things tech, the Moscone Center in San Francisco.
Recently I've written about Apple and Amazon, so here's a short update on our modern day SkyNet: Google.
Google's opening keynote was so long, so filled with information, so detailed that the attendees all looked like happy but weary zombies as they trudged out of the hall. Happy because Google among many other items launched five major programs: Android One, Android Wear, Android Auto, Android TV and Android 'L'. Whew! It was Google and its Android Operating system everywhere! Here goes:
Android One: Google's global mobile market share is now 80 percent and still they're not satisfied. Android One is a platform for delivering both standard hardware and Android software designed for the next billion, low end smart phone users. Apple refuses to go down market while Google is all in that space. For just $99 you get a great device. Awesome.
Android Wear: A fully developed package that ties your Android phone to 'Wear' smartwatches. On the stage was LG and Samsung demonstrating fully functional Wear wrist computers. They do speech recognition and run the Google Now interface. Last year smartwatches were clunky, awful gimmicks, now they are perfectly usable. Stay tuned for the upcoming Moto 360 for something almost stylish.
Android Auto: No this is not the famous self-driving car! This is a method to integrate your phone with your car's dashboard screen. Being able to plug your phone into your car, then using voice commands to navigate, play music, make calls and send messages may sound 'so what?' but Google's advanced voice recognition separates them from Apple and all the rest of the in-dash systems on the market today. I want one!
Android TV: Picking itself up after the earlier Google TV disaster, Google re-launched Android TV and it looks like smart TV done right. Ask it: "OK Google, show me the 2012 Oscar winning films," and they all pop up, you say which one you want to watch and then say "play." Really awesome phone / TV / media / voice integration.
Android L: 'L' is the next version of the mainstream Android OS. With a focus on a refined design called 'material design' and the Google Now interactive notification system stepping farther forward, Android 'L' will give Apple's iOS 8 a run for the prettiest, easiest to use OS on the market today.
This has already gone on too long - just like the Google keynote address - and I've covered only the highlights. But stay tuned because Google and its partners have even more up their sleeves in the coming months.