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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.

The L series of Android will integrate just as seamlessly with a living room's television. Dave Burke, Android director of engineering, compared the current television landscape to the fragmented mobile landscape of 2006, and said it presented an opportunity for Google to unify the ecosystem.

"TVs are fast becoming smarter and more connected," he began, "and really they're becoming computing devices in their own right. So we see a great opportunity to bring some of the strong capabilities of Android, such as voice input, user experience and content, to the larger screen in your house."

The L series of Android will support an Android TV application. Pressing the home button will overlay an interface rich in movies, app and games. Google's Voice Search is used to curate content, generate relevant information and perform internet searches, such as "show me Oscar nominated movies from 2002".

Android TV will help Google strengthen its gaming offering. Gamers can verse each other in a multiplayer mode across different Android devices. During his demonstration, Burke used a television to verse someone who was gaming on a Samsung tablet.

Multiplayer gaming across different devices
Multiplayer gaming across different devices

Content displayed on Android L smartphones can be cast easily to TVs that support Android TV. Android TV "is ideal for multiple device types, everything from TVs, cable set-top boxes and gaming consoles", added Burke.

Sony's UHD and Full HD televisions, including televisions from Phillips and Sharp, will operate on Android TV in 2015.

A new look to Android
New features to Android L
New features to Android L

The cursory glance into Android L revealed an update to the design of the software. Notifications now float on the lock screen and the traditional on-screen buttons are now shapes: a triangle for back, a circle for home and a square for sub-menu.

Elements on the home screen now have shadows based on 'virtual light' sources, said Matius Duarte, the vice president of design at Google. The new design language is known as 'material design'.

Dave Burke sifting through notifications on the homescreen
Dave Burke sifting through notifications on the homescreen

"We challenged ourselves to create a design that was not just for Android phones and tablets, but for mobile desktops and beyond," Duarte said, adding the new design translates well across smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, cars and TVs.

Google's revised Gmail app was used as an example to showcase the changes in Android L. A focus on transitions and animations earned a mention.

Old Gmail app compared to the new one
Old Gmail app compared to the new one


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