Google I/O 2014 keynote confirms expansion into TV and cars plus new mobile software

Google’s I/O 2014 keynote is in the books and this year’s address focused almost entirely on Android and various elements of the mobile OS that are becoming a bigger part of the picture in the coming 12 months.

Among the major announcements made by Google are the long-rumoured Android TV set-top box, Android Auto in-car technology, and a new version of its Android mobile software.

Perhaps the most exciting of the new additions to the firm’s lineup is the Android TV set top box that will change the way that consumer’s treat the living room.

"Smart TVs are often limited and not competitive with their mobile cousins. We want to change that. Today we're launching Android TV,” proclaimed Dave Burke from the Android TV department at Google.

Android TV is almost completely controlled by Google Search and needs just a D-pad and voice input to work. This means that by simply saying “Game of Thrones” it will locate episodes for you and cue them up ready to watch.

The interface itself is easy on the eye and will track activity so users that continually watch one show will be offered the next episode right away. Games will also get full support on the set top box and cross-device functionality means that multiplayer games will be easy to play and it led Burke to state that it is “ideal for multiple device types”.

Android Auto, meanwhile, was demonstrated using the front console of a car and marks Google’s first entry into an area that has already been explored by arch-rival Apple. The software is an extension of the mobile OS and will be fully voice enabled with the phone’s screen casted to the car’s display. An Android Auto SDK has already been announced and over 40 partners have already signed up to work with Google.

On the mobile software front the firm excitedly announced “L”, which can be downloaded by developers from tomorrow and is the first major OS update since last year. The idea is to make it simple for developers to implement features like shadows, lighting and animations to give an enhanced on-screen experience to users.

Notifications have also been streamlined so that they can be accessed on the lock screen and the heads-up notification screen means notifications can be acted upon when in another app.

Chrome’s cross-device functionality has also been beefed up and the mobile version of the OS will contribute to a multitasking upgrade the like of which has not been seen on Google’s software before. There is also a new battery historian that points out what is affecting battery life and a battery saver mode that can apparently improve life by up to 90 per cent.

For more information on the keynote, including its aspirations in the smartwatch market, head over to ITProPortal.com’s live blog of the event.