Google I/O: Breaking Down Mobile in “L”

Google I/O is an annual developer-focused conference where Google announces its biggest launches of the year. Yesterday morning, it kicked off with an opening keynote that covered a “mountain” of information.

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The Mountain, everyone’s least favorite GoT character. Source: Fanpop, user: Saejima

Google gave a glimpse of its new operating system, Android 5.0, currently called “L.” (Rumors cite Lollipop as the next sweet treat-inspired name.) L unifies Android with a style guide that extends across all platforms, creating a cohesive feel for both developers and users. In the words of Matias Duarte, Google’s VP of Design, the theme is “one consistent vision for mobile, desktop and beyond.”

“We asked, ‘what if pixels didn’t just have color, but also depth?’” he continued. “‘What if there was an intelligent material as simple as paper that could transform and change shape to touch?” This led us to a way of thinking that we call ‘material design.’” Google’s material design aims to be bold, consistent and intuitive with a cleaner layout for icons and typography. It allows developers to add the illusion of depth to apps, with animations such as rippling effects and real-time shadows that mimic real-world design.

Aside from the artistic standpoint, certain aspects of mobile are now streamlined. Notifications are lumped together by category, with the most important alerts listed first, and are easy to dismiss in one swipe without unlocking the phone. Speaking of unlocking …

Smartphones receive a clever update with personal unlocking. Android harnesses location, Bluetooth and voiceprint details to authenticate the user and unlock the phone solely by swiping – removing the hassle of entering a PIN code. If any of these methods fail, however, like if a phone can’t track Bluetooth, a PIN code will appear, letting users access their phones the old-fashioned way.

Mobile web is a big element of the improved design. Google image search will resemble a flip book, with quickly loading, vivid animations running at 60 frames per second. The ability to transition between web and apps is also much more fluid, with multiple apps able to populate in one tab.

Multitasking between apps is also a snap with app indexing, as all apps are able to open directly from a search results page. So if a user is hunting for a decent restaurant nearby, they can access the OpenTable or Yelp app directly from the search results. Users also get a blast from the past with a new API that can recall content based on past actions.

The last big announcement in L is project volta, a step towards better battery performance. In Volta, there are new APIs to ensure apps run efficiently, allowing developers to see exactly how their app uses power over time. Users will be able to determine what is draining their battery and hack into a new saver mode that improves battery life by 90 percent.


“ Google revealed that people check their phones an average of 125 times per day.


Of course, the keynote wasn’t complete without a few statistics, so here are a few highlights. Android’s sales have been roughly doubling every year, with over one billion smartphone shipments this year (up from 538 million last year). If you’re wondering how often users pull them out of pocket, Google revealed that people check their phones an average of 125 times per day. In the tablet world, Android tablets now make up 62 percent of the overall market – and that’s not counting Kindle products. It’s not just purchase rates either; app installs on tablets went up 236 percent, showing that people are seriously engaging in Droid devices. As for Google Play? It’s the fastest growing mobile game network of all time, with 100 million new users in the last six months.

So what does this mean for Kiip developers? Google’s in favor of keeping users permanently connected. The keynote emphasized how Android can infiltrate every aspect of life – phones, tablets, watches, cars and homes – so users are always reachable. Google also announced plans to reach the next 5 billion users with a plan called Android One. Android One is Google’s initiative into developing countries, targeting users with high quality, affordable smartphones that feature removable SD cards, full automatic updates, FM radio, dual SIM and more. People – globally – have never been more connected.

Google is catching up fast on the aesthetic quality that Apple has typically dominated, which means developers need to, as well. Now is the time to benefit from Android’s most comprehensive update, with 5,000 new APIs and app consistency across multiple screens. If you’re wondering how to expand your market, this is it.

Note: Google touched on many other products during the keynote, but we thought this mobile-first approach was the most crucial takeaway for developers. For more about connected cars and homes, be on the lookout for our upcoming post on how Apple and Google are approaching this field.

Follow us on Twitter for all our latest developer discoveries and be sure to comment below with your thoughts on the new L.

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