Google opened its I/O developer event in the US yesterday, and announced news about Android and its much-anticipated music service.
From its humble beginnings with the G1 handset in 2008 (still in use here at TelecomTV Towers), there are now more than 310 different Android devices available. In total, Google says there are now 100 million activated Android phones and 4.5 billion installed applications from Android Market.
Yesterday the company announced its ninth version of its sweet-toothed operating system, called Ice Cream Sandwich. Says Hugo Barra, Product Management Director, Android:
“Our goal with Ice Cream Sandwich is to deliver one operating system that works everywhere, regardless of device.
Ice Cream Sandwich will bring everything you love about Honeycomb on your tablet to your phone, including the holographic user interface, more multitasking, the new launcher and richer widgets.”
He also announced that a founding team of industry leaders, including many from the Open Handset Alliance, are working together to adopt guidelines for how quickly devices are updated after a new platform release, and also for how long they will continue to be updated. The founding partners are listed as Verizon, HTC, Samsung, Sprint, Sony Ericsson, LG, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Motorola and AT&T. In the future, new devices from participating partners will receive the latest Android platform upgrades for 18 months after the device is first released (hardware permitting…).
In a related announcement, Google has created ‘Android Open Accessory’ to help developers start building new hardware accessories that will work across all Android devices – specifically an attempt to expand Android from just mobile to other areas of our digital life. For example, Android@Home allows Android apps to connect with appliances and devices in your home (such as your TV).
Moving on to music, and the creatively-named new music service has been revealed as…. ‘Music Beta by Google’. Really, Google needs to start being smarter with its new products, giving them more memorable branding (good = Android; bad = everything else) and not rely on the ubiquitous minimalistic Google web design, which is, quite frankly, boring.
‘Music’ allows you to upload your personal music collection to the cloud for streaming to your computer and Android devices, rather like Amazon’s recently launched service. As well as the usual features of keeping your music and playlists in sync across multiple devices, it lets you listen to music when you’re offline by automatically storing your most recently played music on your Android device.
The service is only available to US-based users, is only in beta, and is only available by invitation. That’s a lot of onlys…
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