Finally after a month of anticipation, it’s here. That’s right, folks- the biggest Google event of the year: Google I/O Extended 2014 is happening right now at the Sri Lanka Foundation institute.
For those of you who are unaware: Google I/O Extended is where everyone gathers together to stay awake through the night to watch the annual Google I/O press conference happening in San Francisco – where Google announces their latest and greatest products. What kind of announcements can we see this year? Anything from the latest version of Android to self-driving cars to whatever Google is doing with robots.
Since there are huge gaps between announcements at San Francisco, there will be a bunch of interactive sessions by local speakers and other activities – like a hackathon – happening at I/O Extended Sri Lanka to fill the gaps.
The sun has set, the bugs have come out-yet despite registrations starting over two hours ago, there are attendees still walking into the grounds of the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute to take there seats here at Google I/O Extended Sri Lanka 2014. In fact just now the number of attendees that checked in has reach 2000 attendees and the crowd goes wild with a thunderous round of applause as the number keeps increasing while we type this. It’s no wonder that Google I/O is known as the biggest event in Google’s calendar. The sessions here at Google I/O Extended Sri Lanka will start in a few minutes.
Meanwhile, the official Google I/O Conference in San Francisco is happening live right now which you can check out here. Now if you’re not here at I/O Extended 2014 but want to stay up and watch the live stream through the night – you can sit back, make yourself comfortable and watch it below.
If you’re not here or fall asleep, no worries – we see plenty of Domino’s pizza and RedBull so we have all the fuel we need to run our usual live-blog. We’ve got Internet access courtesy of Hutch Sri Lanka and photo ops running. So sit back, relax and prepare for the good stuff.
“1500 will be a good number for this year, but when we stopped taking registration we had 5000 registrations! You guys are the lucky ones.” This is Rohan Jayaweera, Country Manager of Google Sri Lanka taking the stage as to give the welcoming speech here at Google I/O Extended Sri Lanka 2014. Rohan kicks off his speech thanking, Mobitel for sponsoring Google I/O Extended SL 2014, especially after the giant pizza bill to keep everyone fueled through the night till 6am tomorrow morning. He then concludes his short speech saying that Google wants everyone to have smart devices and if anyone feels like dancing they are more than welcome to do so at anytime. We might take up on that offer during the breaks.
Rohan walks off the stage and now we have Catherine Candano, Strategic Partner Manager from Google South East Asia taking the stage to a thunderous round of applause-proving to her we Sri Lankans know how to throw a tech party. While the countdown for the San Francisco livestream is in the background, Catherine will be talking about how to monetize your content.
Catherine’s tips on monetizing your app can be summarized in 3 points:
Think global, not local, by creating content that you can sell and monetize to a global audience.
You control online content, so create unique content. Because when you create unique content it not only makes you attractive, but it also means you can be found.
Think like a user. Find out where your users are and think like your users for your app to be found and focus on keeping them happy.
Up next we have a session about Google Glass by Amalan Dhananjayan. Amalan kicks off his presentation, announcing that one lucky person would get to try out Google Glass. He moves onto explain what exactly Google Glass and Glassware (software running on Google Glass) is. We could give you a detailed explanation but it’s nothing you can’t find at the official Google Glass website.
After sharing the story of how Exilesoft got their hands on Google glass and highlighting some drawbacks of Google Glass, he gives a live-demo of Google Glass – which seems to highlight one major con of Google glass: voice control isn’t perfect and is limited along with a bunch of other features here in Sri Lanka. While we still want to get our hands on Google glass, we are now starting to wonder if the Rs.800,000 price tag is worth it.
With the end of the live-demo now we see the lucky winners: Ranuka Perera and Chathu Vishwajath take the stage to try out Exilesoft’s Augmented Reality game. What kind of a first experience was it ? Well we didn’t get to be a part of the experience – it was up on stage – but considering the heavy FPS drop the game suffered well we don’t know about the contest winners but we probably wouldn’t enjoy it.Now we really have to question the Rs.80,000 price tag.
So the local sessions have ended. As we wait for the keynote presentation to begin, we have taken one massive selfie of everyone here at Google I/O Extended SL 2014, two selfies of the ReadMe team here, seen the making-of GDayX video and one lucky attendee who came here all the way from Jaffna won not just one but TWO Google branded caps.
5…..4…..3….2….1 – the keynote speech at Google I/O has begun and you can watch it here. So sit back, relax and brace yourself for announcements of innovation from Google and keep an eye out folks! There’s one Sri Lankan from the developer team that’ll be making an appearance! If you can’t watch the keynote live, no worries because we’ll be tweeting everything on our twitter account: @ReadMeLive. Also, a shout out to @HutchSriLanka, who’s keeping us fed with data and signals.
The keynote is well underway and here’s the latest announcements from San Francisco:
Android One – A new mobile eco-system which is meant to make things easier for OEM’s to break into local markets with budget smartphones.
Like Google Nexus devices Google will be in charge of the software. So where will these first devices appear? Our friendly neighbor India! Yes folks the 1st Android One devices will come from Micromax, Karbon and Spice. Not so cheap now, eh?
L – Say hello to the future of Google services across all Google devices, from mobile to desktops.
Firstly it brings a brand new interface is based on material design, which allow developers to set a depth value for pixels and sets a bunch of standards similar to Microsoft to create a unified interface across Google devices.You can find out more about L design here. It also has LOT of rich animations running at 60 Frames per second and real-time shadows for animators to play around with. In fact animations are the stars of L. Did we mention it has enhanced notifications you can see from the lockscreen?
That’s not all.There’s also an enhanced search which thanks to a new API brings you more valuable content such as: 3D maps! Yes 3D maps.
ART – The new runtime that’s replacing the older Dalvik runtime is another part of L – a HUGE part of it.
Not only does ART bring a huge performance increase for apps compared to Dalvik but it brings a giant improvement in graphics. How much has graphics improved with ART? You can run Unreal Engine 4 with it! That’s how much graphics have improved with it. There’s also the improvement in battery life, with new features such as:
- Battery historian that tracks your battery usage
- the JobScheduler API that schedules your battery for tasks
- Project Volta
- Battery saver mode, which increase your battery life…….by an additional 90 minutes on a Nexus 5. Erh.
What L brings to Android
Android malware is on the rise and Google knows this, which is why the first thing we heard about what’s new is that all apps will now be scanned for malware. More importantly if your Android phone gets stolen there is now a kill switch. So which devices will be getting L first? The Nexus 4, Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 Onto Android wear the Android for wearables, which Google wants to use to immerse us in the digital world. Android wear supports square and round screens but also syncs with all the apps on your phone to give you the information you need – like a notification center.
Music lovers take note: with Android wear you can easily access your albums. As for installing apps, all you have to do is just install the app on your Android phone – it’ll be automatically installed on your wearable AND kept up to date. If you want to get your hands on a wearable you can preorder LG G3 and Samsung Gear Live from the play store VERY soon!
Android Auto – Bringing Android to your car
In simple terms, Android auto does to cars what Android wear does to wearables. It syncs your phone’s android apps with your car and allows you to use android apps with your car controls and reply to your text messages via Google Voice. Now which brands will be installing Android Auto in their cars? There’s 24 brands – a list so huge we couldn’t grab it all..
Android TV – Extending Android to TV
It allows you to change channels, recommend movies and TVshows to you, run apps for your TV, organize your digital content. This is Android TV. Did we mention it allows you play Android games on your TV? Yes it does, and those Android games look beautiful! RIP Ouya. Wait…..can you play on your TV while your friend plays on his tablet or his phone? Yes you can. Smart TV’s from Sony (2014 onwards) and in 2015 the SmartTV’s from Panasonic and TPVision – which means most of Sri Lanka will have to wait a bit longer until that end-of-the-decade TV upgrade.
From Googlecast to Chromecast – what’s new besides the name change?
Find an interesting video on the Youtube app? You can press the new cast button and view it on your TV via Googlecast. Have a few $1000 to spare? Buy a TV and a Googlecast and view the pictures stored on your phone on your new TV. Yes, Googlecast let’s you turn your TV into one of the most expensive photo frames and/or photo albums ever. Did we mention you can use Googlecast to turn your TV into a second screen? Mind blown…..NOT
Chrome..errr Googlecast maybe a great streaming device but these new features seem useless. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see just how far Google is going to create a pervasive Google experience.
What’s happening to Chromebooks?
Google continues its march to create its unified Android utopia by bringing Android apps to Chromebooks. So if you want to experience Android with a keyboard and a mouse, voila, Chromebook. @yudhanjaya’s certainly going to be happy – he’s probably the biggest Chromebook fanboy and one of the few Chromebook users in Sri Lanka.
After an extensive coding session, Ellie Powers comes on stage to talk about more stuff they’re rolling out for developers. We boot up our Hutch Mi-Fi gear and start rolling again. The first part is an announcement: Appurify is joining Google.
Appurify provides automation, testing and optimization aid with real mobile devices. The second is Google Fit and the data it provides to app developers – basically, expect a whole new set of health apps to come up.
There’s also Google Play Games. They’re offering a new set of APIs – multiplayer, leaderboards, gifts, saved games among them.
The also explains how Google’s working to help developers out with monetization. Here’s an interesting figure: Google’s paid out over $5 Billion to developers via Google Play – and they’re seing 2.5x payout growth year over year.
And making all of us jealous, Sundar Pinchai is giving the attendants some new gadgets. Er. One of them is a piece of cardboard. This turns out to be an ingenious VR headset. The other is the Samsung Gear Live. And just gave them each a Moto360 – the Motorola smartwatch. We are SO infuriatingly jealous right now. #cardboard, people. #Cardboard.
Hasanga Abeyratne of 99X is up next. But before that, we’re obliged to sing “Happy Birthday”, because it’s GDG’s fifth birthday. We have Keshan Sodimana, founder of GDG and and Country Engineering Consultant for Sri Lanka at Google. We get thumping bass and an epic photo-mosaic presentation of the recollections of five years of GDG. Happy birthday, GDG!
“We’re right at the edge of technology. But we’re forgetting something: how to we make this technology more apparent to users? How do we make it easier for people to use all these features?” Hasanga takes the stage to give us a sermon on improving user experiences using real-life case studies.
“You don’t sacrifice the experience for the growth: you drive the growth from the quality of the experience” quotes Hasanga. “This is what every company that differentiates itself from the rest does right. People begin to love and differentiate If you can’t make your products lovable by experience, you’re going to have a hard time growing your product.”
Hasanga leaves the stage to wild cheers from the crowd (he’s done a great job, case studies and all). Now it’s the turn of Dulith Herath, who we interviewed in detail earlier.
Kapruka’s ten years old, started with no capital (except for a laptop), makes one billion LKR annually today and runs on Java code, 80% of which is written entirely by one guy. No investors, no bank loans, nothing. Want his inspiring success story? Click that link above. “Any of you guys can do this,” he says humbly. “All you have to do is be crazy about it.”
Dulith’s presentation is on m-commerce: not the m-commerce you’re thinking – SMS based stuff and all – but into more complex stuff using apps, ads, the nitty gritty of technical details.
“Jab-jab-jab-hook,” he says. “This is m-commerce. Take Facebook: you see so many ads. That’s the hook. But you need to make those jabs first. Let me show you how this works.
Some time back, we sent out an email to 20,000 customers. Instead of putting the <customer> tag, we accidentally put in Namal – an actual guy who works at Kapruka. It was a mistake. We promptly got tons of replies asking: “Who the hell is Namal?”
Now, the email was sent by an email account belonging to someone called Avanthi. We promptly sent a response – an apology, with each customer’s real name – and since it was a Friday, we wished them a happy weekend. And that was a connection! That was a jab. We promptly received tons of responses acknowledging the mistake, saying “Oh no, no problem, we understand, happy weekend to you, too.” – some people even started hitting on Avanthi.
That is a connection. By putting a customer’s name, by addressing them, you’re opening a connection. So many companies get the jab wrong: they address people en masse. Be personal. That’s how Facebook works as well: by addressing you by name. Build connections – jab, jab, jab – and then send the ad, sale or product: that’s the hook.“
Up next is Iraj, who’s here to talk on YouTube and Social Media. He illustrates how one of his most ironic songs – “Poleesiya”, a social satire focused on the Sri Lankan police – took off everywhere in all regions, even when most mainstream media refused to screen it. The obvious reason? YouTube. He explains how eventually, realizing the costs of getting his music on radio and TV, he decided to focus only on YouTube.
Interestingly, he speaks about how random things have epic payoffs. The success of manamali was in part due to a random upload: a few pics of a photoshoot for the song – which featured him getting hitched to a goodlooking model – went viral when he uploaded them one night on his Facebook page. People started calling him, including his family. Gossip sites picked it up. The clip, by association, went viral.
He also uses his YouTube stats to show how producers might be mislead about their target audiences. For example, while he actively targets a young, hip crowd, there’s an equal amount of viewers aged 45 and above listening to his music – on YouTube.
He also describes how this insight, coupled with targeted marketing, is also driving down the costs as opposed to traditional media, where a single 30-second advert might cost as much as Rs 2 million. It’s far cheaper to be online now.
We took a brief hiatus after that, heading off to get food. We’re back now. We’ve just had pizza (or rather, fought, bit, clawed and bled our way through a scrum of 300-odd smelly Google enthusiasts to get to the Dominos. We’ve seen the core changes to Android (ART replacing Dalvik and all the other stuff we known already) and now it’s time for the introduction of Sri Lanka’s five Google Student Ambassafors – including the exploits in Cebu, Phillipines. We’ve met the various Google Groups in Sri Lanka – from the GSA’s to the Map Makers to the Google Business Groups and learned once more what it is they exactly do.