The big theme of the Google Keynote at its developer conference was “Android everywhere.” That wasn’t an official slogan or mantra, but it was the ambition behind the many announcements: Android Wear, Android Auto, Android TV.
Google wants to put Android powered screens on your wrist, in your car and on your TV, everywhere you’re likely to be throughout the day. In addition, its Drive/Docs/Cloud-related enterprise announcements were about making Google the center of work.
It’s interesting that Google is not ceding anything or any category to Apple, Microsoft or Amazon. Indeed, it’s emulating both Apple and Microsoft in certain respects: integration, interoperability, lock-in.
After the failure of Google TV a couple of years ago the company came back with the simpler and much cheaper Chromecast, which it said today outsells all other streaming video devices combined. However the larger vision of Google TV was never abandoned and has been reformulated in Android TV, which was announced today.
Android TV offers Google Play content, apps and games through a simple UI that can be browsed or searched. Existing Android apps can be adapted using an SDK to accommodate the larger, “lean back” experience.
Android TV can be delivered though a set-top box or directly integrated into the TV itself. Sony, Sharp and Phillips have committed to building televisions that include Android TV.
Android Wear (smartwatches) is able to partly control Android TV and are deeply integrated and sync’d with Android smartphones. Just as one can search and control Android TV with voice, Android Wear devices can be controlled by voice actions.
A similar set of design and operating principles is guiding development of Android across screens in an effort to create a continuous, integrated experience for consumers and to minimize the effort for developers.
In the car, Android Auto allows users to access existing Android apps by linking their smartphones to an in-dash system. Developers don’t build new apps for the car — the apps are all running on the phone — they simply integrate an SDK that allows their apps to be properly formatted for the car display.
This is also true of Android Wear; an SDK allows existing Android apps to be optimized for the smaller watch screen. Google is trying to make it very easy for developers to build (or adapt) apps for all these different screens, including Chromebooks.
The push into wearables, TV and automotive makes Android a tightly integrated multi-device operating system for maximum consumer utility — and maximum loyalty.