I’m a fan of the Google brand. But even if I wasn’t, I’d still say this: Google just made Apple’s WWDC and Microsoft’s Surface unveiling look like last decades’ news in a little over two hours. They also made Facebook look like your grandma’s social network.
This event foreshadowed Google’s emergence as the hottest consumer tech company in the market today, if it wasn’t already. Jelly Bean (Android 4.1, as it turns out, but don’t let the number fool you, this is no minor update) brought real game changers to the table, from performance enhancements, to better home screen management features, to better web Search, smart app updates (downloading only the updates, not the whole app), Voice Search that brings Siri-like talk back and natural language support, and more.
The Nexus 7 turned out to be everything rumored and then some. Asus and Google have created a killer tablet at a killer price ($200 for 8GB, $250 for 16GB) that is certain to give the folks at Amazon cold sweats and nightmares with its high def screen, quad-core processor, NFC support, front-facing camera, and more.
Google’s Project Tungsten was unveiled as the Nexus Q, a tiny round ball with lights that looks straight out of the future and unifies all your home entertainment technologies, integrates with your mobile devices, and syncs everything with Google’s cloud, for around $300. Your songs, movies, and more can now go with you everywhere you go, as well as your friends’ content, for a true social multimedia experience in real life.
Google Play is riding high with more content (more movies, magazines, etc…), Nexus Q support, and basically almost anything you could want under the sun (and then some).
Project Glass took us for a vicarious ride with a skydiving team in a Google+ Hangout as they wing suited to land on the top of the stadium, scaled down the walls, and biked up to the stage.
And speaking of Google+, we got some interesting and exciting numbers: 250,000,000 users have upgraded their accounts, with 150,000,000 active users, 75,000,000 daily users, and more users on mobile than on the desktop, showing that Google’s emphasis on designing a beautiful new mobile app was well worth it.
And updates? You bet. A new tablet app, and the new Events feature, are both said to become available in Google Play later today (at least this time they didn’t piss off Android users by giving it to iOS users first). Both the elegant tablet app and the new Events feature made Facebook’s comparable offerings look arcane by comparison.
Facebook has never had a decent mobile app for any platform, let alone a true tablet app, and their own events feature is nothing more than a glorified RSVP list compared with the “real time” look and feel of the new Google+ Events. Point: Google.
And, of course, as was expected, they showed off the improvements they’ve been making to Google Maps. They also took steps to make life a lot easier both for app developers, and their hardware partners.
All of this was packed into just the opening keynote, leaving one to wonder how many more interesting surprises might be in store for the remainder of the conference. What’s more, none of this was vaporware like the Microsoft “look don’t touch” Surface tablet, which I expect will soon be forgotten. Attendees are all being given a Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 7, and Nexus Q for their troubles. Point: Google.
Oh, Apple, you got Facebook integration? How adorably 2008. Retina displays? All the better to see just how far behind Google you actually are now. In addition to everything I’ve mentioned, Google just started letting developers at I/O preorder Project Glass for $1500. Apple jumped the shark; Google jumped out of a plane. Point: Google.
You could feel the palpable excitement at just how much amazing stuff, how much technological wizardry and skillful showmanship was being displayed, the only thing really seeming to be missing was Larry Page himself, who must have been enjoying every minute of the show wherever he was.
Google I/O has already exceeded my wildest expectations, and I’m sure not alone in saying that. The only thing that made it even better was the ability to watch it with my friends in a Google+ Hangout.
Things are about to get very interesting, and Google’s opponents will now be playing catch up on nearly all fronts. Some have asked: can Google really take on all of their opponents and win, while those opponents form deeper and deeper defensive-offensive relationships? If Google I/O 2012 is any indication, the answer is a resounding: Yes, and without even breaking a sweat.
In just over two hours, Google put all of their rivals on notice that the ground beneath them was about to turn to quicksand, and probably put about 20 separate industries out of business in the process.
I love technology and how it changes our lives. There’s something almost spiritual about how new technologies connect and empower us. And it’s really cool, too.