IO-U a Google Post-mortem

I know this is late…. 3 months late :S but I recently did a write up for our internal magazine about the main points I picked up from Google IO, so I thought I’d share it with you guys. In June I was fortunate enough to be sent to Google IO in San Francisco. Google IO is an annual conference where technology enthused people from around the globe gather to attend the unveiling of much anticipated releases, gain the inside track on new and developing technologies, connect with others through a shared passion and receive the well-known free gadgets! This year did not disappoint in any of those remits.

AndroidJelly Bean Droids

On the first day, Google wasted no time in announcing their latest operating system release: Android Jelly Bean 4.1. This release boasts a host of minor and major improvements over existing versions, particularly in rendering performance and user experience:

  • Project Butter: relentless work in progress for rendering 60 frames per second (They demonstrated this by comparing Jelly Bean with Ice Cream Sandwich with a 300fps camera)
  • Triple buffering support, allowing the CPU, GPU and the display to work together to boost rendering performance.
  • Touch responsiveness has been improved significantly
  • New tooling available for developers;, Systrace, which measures rendering performance
  • Improved text input with predictive keyboard
  • Voice typing is enabled and is also available offline
  • Improvements in navigating photos while snapping a picture
  • Near Field Communication (NFC) Support via Android Beam
  • Usability improvements on notification support; you can now preview apps with a two finger down-swipe. New API support has been added for this functionality, you can customize actions on a notification tab for your app
  • Search has been revamped with Siri-like support, which is hooked into Google’s Knowledge Graph
  • Google Now: includes transit alerts, route planning, appointments, scheduling, flights and sports. It can also predict how long it will take you to reach each segment of your journey based on where you are and where you are going next.


Sundar Pichai stated that there are 310 million active users of Chrome and that the team have been working tirelessly on providing users with a seemless cloud experience. He also announced the release of Chrome for iOS devices, which will allow users to “seemlessly” sync their online activity across their mobile devices. I have been using the Chrome iOS app since the conference and it has been great; the tabbing and syncing functionality is fantastic. Brian Rakowski demoed the cross device syncing which is quite impressive. His demo showed Chrome tabs opened up on a macbook then switched to using a Chrome book where the same tabs were persisted and easily recalled. Brian then changed device again onto the Galaxy Nexus to show us that, as before, the tabs had been persisted. What was particularly impressive was the ability to persist history. That is, hitting the back button takes you to the previous web page you had visited in that tab across all of the devices. Rakowski closed by with showing that when typing into the address bar chrome will now predict where you want to go and load the page in the background; this means that page delivery is lightning fast should you enable this feature.

Google Drive

Clay Bavor presented Google drive, which is now available on Chrome iOS. Bavor demonstrated the collaborative nature of Google docs, showing many users editing the same document concurrently and the changes being synced across all devices. The most noted update in this area was that Google docs now allows offline editing.

Google Compute Engine

Urs Holzle announced the Google Compute Engine as “Infrastructure as a service that delivers performance at scale and value”. He showed us an example of a company that had leveraged Compute Engine and had gone from 10 minute computations to computations completed within seconds, through the use of 600K cores. This really brought home the scale of the Compute Engine and is “the kind of scale you could dream about”.

Google GlassGoogle Glass

For anyone that didn’t see the keynote where Project Glass was announced, you should. There was a helicopter, parachuting, mountain bikes, abseiling and more. Project Glass is an augmented reality head-mounted display. Essentially it’s a pair of glasses with an integrated glass display and battery hidden inside the frame. The aim is to eventually provide you with the functionality of the smartphone in a hands free form. Interaction with the internet is done via voice commands. Although the glasses were shown at Google IO they are only in prototype stage, and will not be released to the public until 2014; however developers should be able to get their hands on a pair in early 2013.

Wait there’s more…

  • Google Play now includes improved analytics. It also gives you access to movie, TV and magazine purchases in addition to apps, music and books.
  • App Encryption is now available for applications. Essentially this means that there is a device-specific key associated with the application and only the targeted device will be able to run the application. This helps to prevent pirating.
  • Application updates now only download the diff from the most recent version. This helps to dramatically decrease the amount of data needed to download said updates. This is probably similar to what is used with Chrome updates using Courgette.
  • Cloud messaging now has no quote limitations
  • Offline map support for Google Maps, Hurrah!


  • For those wondering about the give-aways, Google were more than generous! They decided to give away a “developer package” which consisted of:
  • Nexus 7, 7-inch tablet with 12 core GPU and 6 core CPU and after using it for the past 3 months I can tell you it’s pretty damn cool
  • Nexus Q, a small Android-based computer for home entertainment system integration. This has received some very bad press due to the large price tag and the lack of functionality. Critics have been confused about its place in the market.
  • Galaxy Nexus, comes with Jelly Bean 4.1 and seems to be responsive, although I’m still an iPhone lady!
  • Chrome Box , this is essentially Google’s Chrome operating system onto a low-cost desktop, I haven’t had a chance to use it yet so I can’t tell you much more than that!

I haven’t got any more time right now to tell you about some of the amazing sessions I went to, but if you get the chance please check them out online at

Also I fell in love with this guy there:

Cool Robot Guy from Google IO from Sara on Vimeo.

S :)

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