Google I/O Google has kicked off its annual developer conference with a three-hour keynote in which the search kingpin explained where it's taking Android next: namely, your wrist, your car, your living room, and beyond.
It was long enough to trouble your correspondent's laptop battery.
Sundar Pichai, Google's head of Android division, demoed the new build of the operating system – officially referred to as the L release but expected to be codenamed Lollipop – in front of 6,000 developers (and a couple of protestors) in San Francisco this morning. The developer preview released today includes more than 5,000 new APIs, including a new set of Gmail interfaces, we're told.
New user interface on Android
The most visible change in the new version of the operating system is what Googlers are calling Material Design. In practice it’s a revved up user interface with shadowing for icons to make them appear to hover over the page; brighter colors; 3D viewing support; and 60 FPS animations onscreen.
Automatically unlock a phone in a known environment
The new build will also include new security settings that can remotely wipe stolen Android handsets, and Google also demoed an automatic unlock feature that's triggered when a handset detects a Wi-Fi network associated with the user, a recognized voice-print, or an authorized Bluetooth watch – such as the one worn by Google director of engineering Dave Burke.
Android's performance is also being built up, with a new virtual machine called ART replacing Dalvik. ART will run processes on ARM, x86, and MIPS processors, and Google claimed it is twice as fast as its predecessor. Developers will not have to rewrite code to see the benefit.
Graphics are also being improved with the Android Extension Pack. Google has been working with graphics chipset companies to allocate specific memory for graphics, including tessellation, geometry shaders, and ASTC texture compression.
Google wants battery life to be improved and so has been working on Project Volta for Android in the new build. This aims to make functions more efficient with a battery-saving mode, and provides developers with a real-time map of how applications are using power at any given time so they can be optimized for more efficient running.
You'll be left Chrome alone
Chrome too is getting a makeover, with deeper integration with applications installed on handsets. Google showed off search results for restaurants that flagged up a review from OpenTable which could be clicked to launch the app automatically, and Google+ will be used to sign the user in.