Every year, we look forward to I/O, Google’s annual developer conference. We wait with bated breath and fingers crossed, because we know that there isn’t room for everyone and it’s a lucky thing to be chosen to attend. This year, we were fortunate that two of us on the Android developer team got to go and learn about all of the latest improvements coming down the pike for Android.
Rather than having the conference at Moscone Center as in previous years, Google decided to do their best Burning Man impression and hold the event outdoors at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. The change in venue introduced some new logistical challenges, such as trying to keep cool in 30°C (86ºF) weather while waiting in extremely long lines. Despite that, Gene and I found it to be a very rewarding experience.
The focus of the conference also shifted this year. Rather than spending lots of time talking about the fantastical and far-off technologies being developed by its Alphabet siblings, Google brought the focus of I/O back to the here and now. Most of the talks were about new and improved technologies for Android and the Web.
That’s not to say that there weren’t some pretty exciting announcements. Google Home and the Google Assistant look to be very compelling alternatives to Amazon Echo and whatever Apple might be cooking up. Allo and Duo look to be solid entries in the increasingly competitive messaging and video-calling spaces. And the far-field gesture detection of Soli promises to open up a whole new world of user interactions.
And of course, Android stole the show. There were great demos of Project Tango and Daydream VR in action. Android apps promise to become even more ubiquitous. Not only will Android apps now be first-class citizens on Chromebooks, but they will also be first-class citizens of the web thanks to the magic of Instant Apps. And Google continues to invest in tools such as Android Studio and Firebase, which help us developers build these great apps.
In summary, Google I/O was awesome! Gene and I had a great time and got to preview a lot of great technologies. The Android platform continues to receive plenty of love from Google and I look forward to seeing which of these improvements will benefit our Android customers.