If you missed out on what Google was upto this past week, Apoorva Sripathi has the details for you

Trust Google to do everything in style. When I later read that the Google IO developer conference was supposed to be a subdued event, I cannot imagine what an actually grand event would look like. But what Google did was the unexpected. While hordes of people were tweeting expectantly about the new Nexus phone and tablet or about its plans for Motorola, the company went ahead and announced its plans for better apps. (Well, they did announce the Samsung Galaxy S4 running Android in late June, putting it on par with Nexus.)

Seamless integration across different OS

One of the visual highlights of the conference was definitely the Racer game demo played across multiple screens. By presenting a race track across all devices (including an iPhone), coloured cars raced around the track from one screen to another, and one device to another. Using something so cool, Google demonstrated how all devices (running different OS) communicated so effortlessly.

The key points to take home from the conference for a Google user (phone/tablet/desktop) were these:

Interface

Google+’s interface has been updated, making it look similar to Pinterest and Flipboard; a series of automatic filters (Auto Awesome and Auto Enhance) for photos, and related hashtags for posts (à la Twitter). So instead of a single column, you have two or three “tiled” columns giving more importance to photos and videos. If you’ve ventured into Google+ before all these changes, you’ll notice that the tabs that were originally on the left have been moved to the top. The chat section, renamed Hangouts, has a Whatsapp-like icon.

What this means to us: Google expects more people to use Google+.

Mobiles

Google has launched Hangouts app for both Android and iOS, making it a universal messaging application, which steals Viber, Whatsapp and Skype’s thunder. (They also plan SMS integration soon.) Both the desktop and the phone have smart emojis (Japanese term for smileys; hand drawn, at that).

One does, however, miss the absence of an online/offline status option and the ‘available’ or ‘busy’ options. Google should also reconsider adding one’s contacts to the hangout. Let’s face it, not everyone has a smart phone. They should also improve the quality of the video.

Voice-enabled

Talking to a computer hasn’t been really fascinating but Google makes it sound promising. By just saying “OK, Google” the desktop will support voice search for something like “Show me restaurants in Nungambakkam” or “How far is it from here” and it recognises words like “it” and “here” depending on your location and your previous search.

Maps upgrade

Google Maps is getting a huge makeover this summer, for both tablets and desktops. Based on a user’s interest preferences, it will list recommendations with photos, reviews, and other details that pop up during search. If you’re curious, you can request a preview like I did here. For mobiles, you’ll receive updates on traffic jams and will be suggested an alternative route.

If all this didn’t quite convince you, read what Larry Page - who was greeted like a rockstar when he came on stage - had to say, “I can do most things I need to do to run the company on the phone.” Which is what the new developer tools and apps help us do, making life simple one step at a time.

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