Google I/O 2015: 9 Things We Loved - InformationWeek

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5/29/2015
05:00 PM
Thomas Claburn
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Google I/O 2015: 9 Things We Loved

Google Photos, for all its mass appeal, is less interesting than Google's more ambitious work. Get ready for touch-aware clothes and gesture-sensing devices.
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(Image: Thomas Claburn)

(Image: Thomas Claburn)

Google lavished attention on Google Photos, the company's renovated cloud photo service and companion mobile app, during its I/O 2015 developer conference, held Thursday and Friday in San Francisco. But Google Photos, for all its mass appeal, is less interesting than Google's more ambitious work.

On Friday, Google's Advanced Technology and Projects Group held a session to discuss recent developments. One of these is Project Jacquard, an effort to create conductive fabric that can detect touch events. Judging by the sample displayed on Thursday, which tracked contact as if it were a touchscreen, and the demonstration on Friday, Google's engineers have succeeded. As a result, we may soon see truly comfortable wearable devices -- touch-enabled jackets that can, for example, interpret a swipe along a sleeve as a command to make a phone call.

Another intriguing research project is Project Soli, a radar sensor for mobile devices that can read a user's hand's shape and motions for gesture-based interaction. Later this year, Google plans to release a prototype board for developers.

Work on Project Ara, Google's attempt to reimagine the smartphone as a set of discrete hardware modules, continues. While it will be another year before we see the results of Google's research, the prospect of greater freedom in terms of design and function, of module programmability, and of vendor opportunity is too tantalizing to ignore.

Google also refreshed its Cardboard VR viewer, extended the Cardboard SDK to iOS, and launched two initiatives to make VR content relevant beyond gaming. Expeditions is a program to provide VR tours to students, so they can see far-off places related to their curriculum. Education could turn out to be a better vehicle to popularize VR than gaming.

A second VR effort, Jump, aims to jumpstart the creation of VR content by promoting the construction of 360-degree cameras, by providing the software to knit images into panoramas, and by distributing such content through YouTube.

If photos are your thing, you may find the new Google Photos compelling, now that it's separated from Google+. Google VP Bradley Horowitz called the service Gmail for photos, even as he stressed the company's effort to ensure privacy. Google Photos allows users to backup and store an unlimited number of photos (16MP or less) for free, so they can be accessed from desktop and mobile devices.

Google can afford to provide free storage because it compresses the images, though the company insists these backups are visually identical to high-resolution originals. Professionals who care about lossless file storage have the option to pay for the Google Drive storage space beyond the 15GB of free space provided at a monthly rate of $10 per TB.

The most disappointing aspect of the conference has been the degree to which Web technology has been relegated to the background. Aside from the release of Polymer 1.0, a JavaScript library for creating interface elements easily, the major announcements have been focused on Android. That's understandable given the popularity of mobile devices, but it's also disheartening because the Web belongs to everyone while Android, despite open elements, belongs to Google.

Here are nine things we loved about this year's Google I/O developer conference. Are there other Google tech advancements you find more compelling than these? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

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Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
5/31/2015 | 2:12:09 PM
Re: Photos now divorced from Gogle+
@tzubair The fact that Google + has been around 4 years and my friends &I didn't know about it , is just another testament that Google+ did not expand or take off with a widespread audience. Facebook beats Google+ by a long short, in terms of social media. I think the statistics speak for themselves. Although I think it had potential, it just didn't really catch on for one reason or another.
tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
5/31/2015 | 10:32:32 AM
Re: Photos now divorced from Gogle+
"I am surprised that they have not come up with their own social media site all together."

@Angelfuego: Google+ is indeed Google's own social media project which was launched 4 years ago. The main reason it has not been very succesful is because it hasn't been able to build a large user base as compared to Facebook. People do not feel any additional advantage of being on Google+ and leave Facebook.
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Author
5/31/2015 | 12:11:14 AM
Re: Photos now divorced from Gogle+
Gesture sensing devices sound very aggressive voice and and auto correct are still not perfected. The vault sounds very appealing however for all our digital storage.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
5/30/2015 | 10:02:07 PM
Re: Photos now divorced from Gogle+
@tzubair: I agree. Google + does appear for a way for Google to get in on the social media relm. I am surprised that they have not come up with their own social media site all together.
progman2000
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progman2000,
User Rank: Ninja
5/30/2015 | 9:59:46 PM
Re: Photos now divorced from Gogle+
Dropbox gives you up to 1GB without paying for it. I used it to death for freelance work stuff and haven't even hit 500mb yet. I am with you on getting the cloud storage for free but almost feel like I should be subscribing just because of how integral it is for me.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
5/30/2015 | 9:59:44 PM
Re: Photos now divorced from Gogle+
No doubt.     Either Google will swallow them up or they probably already own them.  Would not surprise me in the least.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
5/30/2015 | 9:57:37 PM
Re: Photos now divorced from Gogle+
@Progman, If if provides you any consolation, I was unaware of Google Photos prior to reading the article as well. I like what I read. I think I will look into using it.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
5/30/2015 | 9:57:09 PM
Re: Photos now divorced from Gogle+
I am purely Google Drive.   I never want to pay for personal cloud storage myself - I remember seeing somewhere - A video of a guy ranting about the Cloud and how he had no real control over the files he uploaded and was revolting against the "Cloud Tide" and going old school with sticks and DVD's for his most cherished items.

I agree with his stance - but I think I will continue to use a a guarded hybrid approach.
progman2000
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progman2000,
User Rank: Ninja
5/30/2015 | 9:54:50 PM
Re: Photos now divorced from Gogle+
Guess I need to start looking at Google Photos. I feel like an idiot because I must be the last one to hear about it. I need a damn personal secretary to keep up anymore...
Angelfuego
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50%
Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
5/30/2015 | 9:54:20 PM
Re: Photos now divorced from Gogle+
@mejiac, that sounds great. I have to look into Google Drive. Sounds like it would work for me and my needs.
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