We just capped off another amazing Google I/O. This was my first Google I/O. However, not my first event that I've covered for Android Headlines. I've been to numerous events, in a variety of cities and countries over the past year meeting with all kinds of companies including Verizon, Google, ASUS, HTC, LG, Samsung, Sony, ZTE, and Meizu. However, Google I/O is nothing like those launch events. It's not even anything like Mobile World Congress. Google I/O is more about networking, meeting with manufacturers, and developers. Especially this year, compared to last year.
When you walk into the keynote room, it's pretty overwhelming, just how large the room really is. Google had almost a full 360-degree screen wrapping around the entire room, just the back wall was missing from completing the circle. Watching developers playing pong on that screen, was pretty amazing as well. Not sure if that was on the livestream or not. Once everyone filled the keynote room, around 6 to 7 thousand people, the WiFi pretty much became invisible, as you'd expect.
After the keynote, it was all about checking out what the different teams at Google have been up too. Android Auto and Cardboard were right outside the keynote room. Cardboard was updated this year, and now supports 6-inch devices – aka the Nexus 6. Seeing about 20 people sitting down holding cardboard up to their eyes, and headphones on moving around, this was the future. Google's future. Android Auto didn't have much in terms of updates, but it is now available in Chevy, Hyundai and Volkswagon cars that are on dealer lots right now.
The best part of the demo area was probably ATAP. While they don't really have many products – mostly Project Tango and Ara – the technology they are working on and have been working on is pretty amazing. Project Jacquard is pretty awesome. Basically you can do gestures on a piece of fabric to control lights, music, and much more. One of the demos they had on display was being able to tap to play/pause Google Play Music on the Nexus 6. Swipe left or right to skip or go back to the previous song, and swipe up and down to control the brightness. Now that might seem niche, but ATAP announced they are working with Levi Strauss to get this technology built into their clothing. Imagine walking down the street, swiping on your jeans to skip to the next song on your phone. This is the future people.
Of course that's not all ATAP had. They had their breakout session on Friday morning at 9am, which was packed, literally, and for good reason. They showed off a number of things like Project Soli, Vault, Jacquard and capped it off with Project Ara. You may remember Project Ara from the days when Motorola owned and worked on Project Ara. Remember when Google sold Motorola they kept that division of Motorola and it's now known as ATAP. The team on Project Ara got on stage, put the components of the modular phone together, booted it up and took a selfie. It didn't seem like much, but when you think about it, that is freaking cool. As Regina Duggan from ATAP said, they are making "epic shit".
Like I said above, it's not all about the sessions at Google I/O and what the different teams at Google are working on. But meeting with OEM partners, developers and other people that you've never met before. I met some pretty awesome people this year. Got a chance to see the YotaPhone 2 for the first time, and I must say, I'm impressed with that thing. We should have one in hand in a week or two, so a full review will be coming soon. I met a bunch of developers at LG's Developer Event, as well as at Google I/O After Hours on Thursday.
Additionally, I also got to meet with Hugo Barra from Xiaomi. And for anyone that has been a fan of Google for a few years, getting to meet Hugo Barra, Matias Duarte and Sundar Pichai is just amazing. Speaking of Xiaomi, we do have the Mi Note Pro and Mi 4i in hand now, in case you missed our first impressions posts on Friday, so expect full reviews of those very soon. Hugo tore down the Xiaomi Mi 4i, live in front of myself, Marques Brownlee and Joshua Vergara (I'm sure you've heard of those guys), which was pretty awesome. Being able to see the inside of the Mi 4i, and just how much of the inside is the battery as well as the display. It's not often you are handed a unit for review and told "feel free to take it apart".
The 3-day experience (yes, Google I/O is two days, but I was there Wednesday as well) was capped off by a session called "Speechless at I/O". Which is basically a comedy show. A few of the Google executives were given a choice for their speech like Keynote, new Product Launch, etc., and then the audience gives them a topic. My favorite was the "Android Wireless Underpants". it was really funny, and a great way to end the conference.
Overall, I really enjoyed the Google I/O experience. I got to meet a lot of new people, as well as catch up with some I had met at other trade shows and launch events. Now it's off to Beijing for Meizu's launch event, where we know we'll be getting the M2 Note, but we're not sure what else is coming. Make sure you stay tuned to Android Headlines, their event is June 2nd at 2pm local time. Which is about 2am for the east coast of the US, and 11pm on June 1st for those on the west coast.