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5 Big Things from Google I/O '13

3 minute read

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As you probably already know, we spent all of last week in San Francisco for Google I/O ’13. Not only were we first in line for the Keynote presentation on 5/15, we attended individual sessions ranging from Getting the most out of Google+ in your Organization to Use Apps Script to Create Dynamic Google Forms.

There was a lot of information to digest during our days at the Moscone Center, but here are 5 Big Things you can takeaway from Google I/O ’13.

Welcome to Hangouts, your new conversation platform

A unified chat platform was rumored for quite some time, and was even leaked under the name Babel. Hangouts is a much more appropriate name considering Google is merging one of the most popular features in Google+ (Hangouts) with the rest of its chat clients.

There have been some issues getting started with Hangouts, especially for Google Apps Admins looking to enable it for their users. You are able to introduce this feature by Organizational Unit, so we suggest taking this approach until you’re certain your entire user base is ready. Here’s some more information for enabling the new Hangouts functionality for Google Apps domains.

From a user level, Hangouts are what we’ve all been looking for in our Google chat client. Being able to seamlessly transition from device to device, all while maintaining the same conversation, is something I know I’ll use on a daily basis.

Google+ is even more ‘Awesome’

The big thing that Google SVP of Engineering Vic Gundotra mentioned his presentation was the staleness of today’s social media feed. To solve this issue, Google+ was updated to feature a much more aesthetically pleasing feed, with emphasis on images. Instead of the standard single-column feed, Google+ now features three columns with larger images.

The feed wasn’t the only aspect of Google+ to receive an update. Since there’s an amateur photographer in all of us, Google introduced major changes to the photo-upload process. When an image is uploaded it will automatically undergo sweeping (but easily reversible) changes. With a new feature they’re calling ‘Awesome’, Google will automatically prioritize, tag and enhance your photos.

Watch out Spotify, here comes Google Play Music All-Access

A streaming music service was something I was really hoping Google would introduce and, despite the awkwardly long name, they didn’t disappoint. With the increasing popularity of Spotify, Rdio and Pandora, it was only a matter of time before Google threw their hat into the ring.

With Google Play Music All-Access, users will have access to on-demand music from their computer browser, Android app and mobile browser. It remains to be seen if Google will enter into the iOS market, which could be a deal-breaker for a large segment of users.

‘The end of Search as we know it’

‘The end of search as we know it’ was the tagline at the beginning of Amit Singhal’s presentation on the recent search updates…and it didn’t disappoint. Google was founded as a search company, and showed that they have not forgotten their roots.

Google’s already impressive voice search has been updated with a ‘no-interface’ approach that makes searching behave more like a conversation. Available for Chrome and Chrome OS, users can begin a search by simply stating ‘Ok Google’, followed by the query.

Google also demoed personalized searches, such as ‘show me my photos from my New York trip’ or ‘send an email to Katie.’ Google aims to get technology ‘out of the way’, and this conversational search will do just that.

Maps are even better

The final presentation of the Google I/O ’13 Keynote was easily the most visually stimulating of all. The updates to Google Maps were some of the most impressive things we saw all week, and that includes robots, Google Glass and Billy Idol.

The cleaner interface for mobile and desktop shows your maps in full-screen and integrates with Google Earth. It’s also been updated to include even more of your personal information, so searches will return results that are most relevant to you. Other updates include in app restaurant reviews, Zagat suggestions and Google Offers.

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