Google I/O 2013 debuted yesterday with a big keynote, that included some software goodies, but also lacked pretty much everything we predicted in this piece. The series of conferences that ends tomorrow didn’t reveal Android 4.3 (yet), but it did reveal new versions of Android apps and some fresh services.
We also got a Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Edition announced, available on the Play Store starting with June 26th. The device runs stock Android Jelly Bean, it’s fully unlocked and comes with LTE support. It works perfectly on AT&T and T-Mobile and it’s priced at $649. Google introduced a new Maps version for both desktop and mobile.
They also announced a sort of Google Now implementation for desktop, if I can call it that way. Back to maps, the experience is now more customized and user-focused, with ratings associated to any locations, from restaurants to shops and hotels. Google also unveiled the Experience feature for tablets, that will also bring you info about indoors map areas and restaurants, hotels and shops. The maps are more realistic now and we get a more profound Street View and Google Earth integration.
Once you’re looking for a landmark, reviews will instantly appear and said reviews will be taken from your Google+ friends. Street View also shows in building imagery now, courtesy of the Photo Spheres uploaded by users. They also contributed outdoors 360 degree panoramas. Another big update was the one of Hangouts, that is available on Android, Chrome, from Gmail and on iOS. It has an improved notification area, emoji and photo galleries that can be shared with the person you’re talking to.
The gaming and music streaming services from Google, that have been rumored for a while now are real. The first is called Google Play Music All Access and it’s sort of like a Spotify with a subscription worth $9.99 per month. The gaming service offers real time multiplayer, leaderboards and most importantly cross platform cloud saves, so you can use them between Android and iOS and Android and the web.
Last but not least came a payment system integrated in Chrome, for an easier way to pay for stuff you purchase from the browser and a new video format called VP9, that will be adopted by YouTube. Let’s see what goodies they unveil today… Fingers crossed for Android 4.3!