Google had quite the year. From Android 4.4 to the new Chromebook Pixel, Google released a fury of new products. The company continued its Project X campaign, producing various wild and sometimes crazy new ideas for the future.
Google announced its Chromebook Pixel and released it in February. The Pixel packs an incredible 239 pixels per inch (providing an ultra clear display) as well as a touch interface. As it currently stands Google sells the pixel on Google Play for $1,299.00 - a hefty price for a Chromebook.
The highlight of the year could be argued, but I feel that it was Google’s annual developer conference, Google I/O. While this year’s I/O, held in May in San Francisco, was not as extravagant as last year, in which the company unveiled Google Glass, there were certainly some exciting announcements. Google announced that users had activated an astounding 900 Million Android device and downloaded 48 Billion apps. The company also announced Android Studio, a development environment for Android developers, as well as a new Hangouts app on iOS, Android, and Chrome. The keynote ended with CEO Larry Page, who previously suffered paralyzed vocal cords; discuss his thoughts on innovation and competition.
Google in May announced a new version of Maps and officially released its redesigned service later in the year. The newly redesigned mapping service features a completely overhauled user interface with a focus on minimalism.
At a July conference, the company announced Chromecast, a product that when inserted via HDMI to a HD TV, allows for streaming from an Android or iOS device. Android 4.3 was also released.
Also announced was the new Nexus 7 which features incredible gaming performance, Android 4.3 (at the time, now 4.4), a new and improved design, etc. It’s certainly an incredible tablet for its price and easily on par with the iPad Mini.
The new Nexus 5 was leaked throughout the year, even appearing in an official Google video and on the Play Store days before it officially debuted. Featuring a complete redesign, Android 4.4, LTE, and an improved camera, among other specs, the device sold out nearly instantly on Google Play. At $349 for the unlocked version, it is a very affordable phone, given that competitor phones retail around the $600 mark for unlocked versions.
Android 4.4 KitKat was announced earlier in the year and shipped with the Nexus 5. The new OS features a redesign (2013’s the year of redesigns it seems), deeper integration with Google Now, faster multitasking, etc. It’s a very worthy upgrade.
Google also announced Project Loon, a product "designed to connect people in rural and remote areas” by providing internet access via balloons in the sky. Another Project X, Calico, is a new Google company with the focus on health - especially on solving death. Yeah, that’s right solving death. Time will tell if this long shot has the potential to revolutionize human health, but if any company can to do it, it’d be Google.
A cloak of secrecy fell when a mysterious ship appeared in the San Francisco harbor. Local government officials refused to tell the public anything and so speculation grew. Dubbed the “Google Barge,” Google finally let the public in on its secret: the barge is an “interactive place where people can learn about new technology”. Other barges are located in different areas, also.
As the year neared a final close, rumors continued. The so called “Google Watch” is alleged to be released in 2014 and feature deep Google Now integration. If it is released next year, Google likely won’t be the only company doing watches. Apple, too, is supposedly focusing its efforts on smart watches.
The year ended strong with Google announcing Wonder labs, where holiday shoppers can experience Google products in domes placed within stores. Google featured festive doodles for Thanksgiving and the holiday season.
With the year about to end, I hope you had a great holiday season and an equally amazing 2013. Let 2014 be another great year, Google!
Written by Gregg Mojica