July 09, 2014

New Tech & New Experiences at Google I/O


This is a guest post from Alex, our fantastic West Coast summer intern. It originally appeared on the Mashery Developers Blog.

In late June I had the extraordinary privilege of being invited to attend Google I/O by Google’s Women Techmakers through rockstar Delyn Simons. Women Techmakers started off the action-packed few days with a lovely dinner at five locations throughout San Francisco. I was located at Lulu’s, a warm and open venue with an open bar and delectable appetizers. I would continue to see and get to know several of the young women I met over the course of I/O.

Google Entrance

Welcome to Google I/O!

Wednesday morning started off early with the keynote and a line that wrapped the building twice! Several overflow rooms left any stragglers, myself included, with nothing to worry about. The keynote was an absolute doozy and left the entire audience eager to get their hands on the new tech introduced. The Nest API and Android Smartwatches in particular caught my attention.

The Nest API was introduced as a system for the home that anticipates the needs of the residents. The Nest API sandbox had a great display of the thermostat and smoke detector designed as the flagship of the new technology. The “Nest for Developers” session Thursday afternoon was jam-packed with interested developers—standing room only!

Nest photo

The session fully delved into the variety of uses and applications of the API and included examples of apps built with Mercedes, Jawbone, and more. Nest and LIFX, a WiFi enabled light bulb, presented an app with potential life saving abilities: the LIFX lights would flash between red and white in the event of a fire detected by the Nest smoke detector. While I feel that full and widespread Nest integration is still several years away, the technology looms on the horizon as a great advancement in the home.

Android wear, my personal favorite presentation of I/O, included the new OS for use on Smartwatches, two of which Google gave out as brilliant swag to every I/O attendee. Android wear is simple and sweet and relies heavily on Google’s “Cards” feature for now. The ball for this tech will really get rolling this fall with the release of Android L, but in the meantime being able to dictate texts from your wrist is a nifty and useful feature, though perhaps slightly uncomfortable to use in public.

LG’s G Watch and Samsung’s Gear Live were gifted to attendees while the Moto 360 will be available this fall. The Moto 360’s round face makes for a compelling shape and allows for more screen real estate, but the real battle was between the LG and Samsung releases. The Gear Live's heart rate detector and higher resolution are appealing features, but the clunky and oversized face made it unwearable on my small wrist; for me the G Watch made for a much better fit.

Besides the sessions and the new tech, Google hosted a multitude of playgrounds, workshops, and sandboxes. The “Code Lab” was one such playground; it consisted of a hub of computers that presented straightforward demos and tutorials featuring anything from Google Wallet, Chrome Apps, Polymer, and Dart, to name only a few. Find them all here!

Google I/O was an amazing experience for a growing developer and I am extremely grateful for the chance to go. Seeing next year’s technology up close and personal was inspiring and left me anticipating getting home to tackle the newly released SDKs. I can’t wait to see what comes of the tech released at this year’s Google I/O!