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Google Android L: Everything we know

Tony Ibrahim | June 27, 2014
Control your car, television and smartwatch from your next Google smartphone.

Google is readying "the biggest release of Android" in the company's history. Elements of the new version were showcased overnight during Google's I/O conference in San Francisco. Executives referred to the upcoming software as "the L series of Android", and it will control your car, your television and your smartwatch with ease.

More than 1 billion people use the Android platform globally, said Sundar Pichai, the senior VP of Android. Pichai said Google is now targeting the next 5 billion people as the company readies "the biggest release of Android" in its history.

"[The L series of Android] has over 5000 new APIs, and we are thinking about form factors beyond smartphones, said Pichai. "We wanted to make a radical user experience with L."

Controlling your car with Android L smartphones
Google took a blow torch to a car to showcase Android Auto
Google took a blow torch to a car to showcase Android Auto

Perhaps the most radical experience derives from how the new version of Android will work in cars. Plugging an L-series Android smartphone casts Android Auto to the car's screen. Controlling the interface is handled by the buttons found on the car's steering wheel or through voice prompts, said Patrick Brady, an Android director of engineering.

"It looks and feels like part of the car, but all of the apps are running on Android smartphones," said Brady. "It also means the experience is personalised."

Brady showcased how Android Auto uses contextual information to streamline GPS navigation. Google's Voice search is used identify nearby destinations and then displays them on a version of Google Maps designed for a centre console. Navigating to popular destinations can be done without entering an address.

"Android Auto is completely voice enabled so you can keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road," said Brady.

Navigation can configured without taking your hands off the wheel
Navigation can configured without taking your hands off the wheel

Messages can be dictated to Android Auto, and to ensure eyes are not averted from the road, the display stays on the Voice Search screen. Android Auto will recite the text message and asks for confirmation before it sends.

"Over 25 car brands have signed up to ship Android Auto in the near future," said Brady. "What's more, the first cars with Android Auto will be rolling off dealer lots before the end of this year."

How Android L will control the living room
Dave Burke browsing Google's Play store on a TV
Dave Burke browsing Google's Play store on a TV

 

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