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Highlights from Google I/O 2011

Google has just kicked off its I/O 2011 conference last night which marks its 4th year running. At Google I/O, this is the event where we would expect huge announcements and previews of what Google has to offer particularly in the mobile segment. The Android platform has come a long way since its early beginning and now we find out what’s coming this year.

Tremendous growth of Android

Google had given an overall update that the Android platform now has 36 OEMs, 215 carriers and 450,000 developers world wide. That’s a huge number but what it translate to is an aggressive increase of its daily activations. Back in May 2010, there are approximately 100,000 Android activations per day and had tripled to 300,000 per day in December last year. Today, Google is seeing 400,000 activations in a single day which quadrupled in just a single year.

In terms of applications, there are 200,000 apps now available in the Android market. To date, it is reported that a total of 4.5 billion apps had been downloaded. The recent “billion” downloads were achieved in just 60 days, which is roughly 33.3 16.66 million downloads per day.

What’s new for Android Honeycomb?

First they announced that a new Android Honeycomb update is coming dubbed Android 3.1. With this new update, widgets are now more customisable where you can stretch them horizontally and vertically. This also applies to existing widgets that you have which can be enabled with a minor update in the XML files. Another cool feature with this new upgrade is the ability to run as USB hosts. What this means is you can plug in your digital camera transfer cable to plugging in a Xbox game controller for your Android game.

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Unfortunately Android 3.1 is only coming to Verizon’s Motorola Xoom tablets and no mentions of availability for other tablets yet.

Google TV
Naturally, Google TV is expected to receive an update to Android 3.1 which is mentioned to be coming this summer, but that’s not all. Google TV with Android 3.1 is expected to have its Android Market too which allows apps to be developed for the big screen.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich


So what’s next with Android versioning? We now have 2.3 Gingerbread for handheld smart phones and 3.0 Honeycomb for tablets. Although it seems that the platform is being divided, the new Android Ice Cream Sandwich will combine both smart phone and tablet OS together. Basically 1 OS to rule them all, which can be seen as a solution to fragmentation. Ice Cream Sandwich is expected to be released sometime in Q4 this year.

Android Market to offer movie rentals

It is also announced that the Android Market will offer more than just apps and e-books. Movies rentals are coming as well with price starting from $1.99 with HD version costing $4.99. The market will offer 30 day rental period however if you start watching, you are left with 24 hours to finish it. Android users in the US can start renting from the Market but it isn’t available for us folks in Malaysia. It was mentioned that an app will be released to allow direct rentals without going thru the web but looks like that’s coming only in Android 3.1 update.

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Music Beta by Google

After video, the next best thing to expect is Music. Available for both Mac and PC, there’s an app which you can sort out your playlist along with the regular ratings, play counts and other features you would expect from a music organiser. Like Apple’s Genius in iTunes, Google has something similar but better called Instant Mix. Google claims that Instant Mix listens to your songs and makes your mix even smarter.

The beauty of Music Beta is the cloud storage where you won’t even need a cable to transfer music again. Finally your music is on the cloud and when you need it, you can stream it off directly to your devices. If you have an existing collection on iTunes and Media player, it offers a one click library upload solution. Alternatively you can pick and choose selected files to be uploaded. Being in the cloud, like dropbox, you can have it shared seamlessly across multiple devices that you own making your collection accessible everywhere. For those who doesn’t wish to stream, there’s an option to sync your songs for offline use.

So what about not so original music files? According to Google, they reserve the right to remove any music contents which violates copyrights. Not sure how are they going to enforce this as some could be personal rip of actual original CDs.

For a start, Google Music lets you upload 20,000 music for Free. Unfortunately it is currently available in the US. For those who wish to try, check out their page here, if you’re residing in the US.

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Read more on GOogle Music Beta service here.

Special Edition Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

In previous Google I/O, developers were given complimentary devices like the Nexus One. This year, they are giving something even special. Almost everybody at the event ground including press members had received a special edition Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 which has a white backplate with Android patterns all over.

More on the special edition tablet over at Android Central.

Keynote Video

If you missed last night’s opening keynote, you can watch it over again below.