Google has come out with blazing guns on day 1 of its 2012 I/O event. Here’s the recap.
Samsung Galaxy S4 running stock Android (Unlocked)
The biggest shocker at today’s event was the announcement of a Samsung Galaxy S4 being offered with a vanilla Android ROM. The unlocked phone will have 16GB of storage space, and will support AT&T and T-Mobile LTE. However, it won’t come cheap. It’s going on sale on June 26th via the Play Store for $649, just one dollar short of 50 over the regular S4′s unlocked price.
It’s not budget friendly, but there’s a lot of power under the hood without the TouchWiz interface. The phone will be equipped with the latest version of Jellybean and will receive updates just as frequently as other lucky Nexus owners do.
Even though we can argue from here till the hills about why Google made this move, it’s a huge step in the right direction for cutting down on fragmentation currently taking place in the Android hemisphere. Obviously it means having to give up some of TouchWiz’s cool features, but fragmentation has always been one of Android’s stumbling blocks.
Hangouts gets its own Android and iOS app
Google has broken the shackles on Hangouts by giving it its own app, not only for Android, but for iOS as well. Replacing Google Talk, Hangouts allows users to text and voice chat (up to 10 callers per conversation). There are other features such as integrated Emoji emoticons, photo sharing, the ability to use multiple devices and still communicate seamlessly. It doesn’t matter if you start the call on your phone, you can easily continue it via your PC (and vice versa).
One of the biggest setbacks though is the fact that you can’t tell who is online or offline. It’s part of a feature than allows you to message people even when they’re offline, resulting in them getting messages when next they sign on. However, that meant getting rid of your online status, which really doesn’t make sense because how would you know who you can start a convo a call with instantly?
Auto Awesome Photo Enhancements
Google has added an image enhancing algorithm to Google+ called ‘Auto Awesome‘ which automatically creates a better version of your uploaded pictures. There are five features that can help to make that awesome photo you hoped to capture.
HDR – HDR, or High Dynamic Range, is the process of taking multiple exposures of the same image. By merging these images together, your photos will achieve a greater range of shadows and light. Uploading three similar images at different exposures–low, medium, and high exposure–will create an HDR image for you through Auto Awesome.
Motion – If you’ve taken a series of photos in succession (at least 5), Auto Awesome will stitch these photos together into a repeating short animation.
Smile – If you’ve taken a few group photos, Auto Awesome will choose the best shots of each person in your image and merge them into one great looking photo.
Pano – If you’ve taken a series of photos with overlapping landscape views, Auto Awesome will stitch these photos together into a panoramic image.
Mix – If you’ve taken a series of portraits sharing similar background elements, Auto Awesome will compile these photos together into a photobooth style grid. Mix is meant to showcase portrait photos taken with similar backgrounds in time, so it works best when there are close-ups of faces.
“Ok, Google” comes to the desktop via Chrome
For those of you who use Google Now on Android and iOS, you can now experience the same level of awesome voice search on your PC via the Chrome web browser. Google’s Conversational Voice Search allows users to ask questions in plain English rather than specifically structuring them when searching via tools like Siri or old Google Voice Search.
Unlike the mobile versions, users browsing Chrome simply have to say “Ok, Google” via their microphone to activate the voice search command. They don’t have to press any keys or buttons. Using Google’s Knowledge Graph, results are more personalized than the present Google Now cards we’re accustomed to on the mobile platforms.
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