What's next for Google's Android software platform - Embedded.com

What’s next for Google’s Android software platform

SAN FRANCISCO – At its annual developer conference held today, Google announced a litany of updates to its mobile, auto, entertainment, and wearable platforms with a new version of Android. The upcoming Android L release will run on three smartwatches, 25 vehicles and a phone for emerging markets.

“We want to give an update on the momentum we’re seeing in mobile, and how Google is evolving platforms to meet that momentum,” keynoter Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps, said.

Android TV combines the search power of Google with high-quality graphics from Nvidia.

Android TV combines the search power of Google with high-quality graphics from Nvidia .

Android L will launch this fall with gains in unified design across platforms, a layered and animated user interface, context awareness, and voice recognition. The as-yet-named L is 64-bit compatible and will run on a new runtime system called ART to support ARM, x86 and MIPS for twice the performance improvement over its previous software, Dalvik.

“We want the experience to be seamless, it shouldn’t matter what device you were using before, we want you to be able to pick up where you left off,” Pichai said, adding that Google’s philosophy puts mobile devices at the center of the user universe.

Google says L is designed to be more efficient for developers, with few code modifications between platforms, easier job scheduling, and near-field communication (NFC) enablement. The new OS is “material themed” — Google calls it Material Design — with card shapes that cast shadows in the foreground and that can be manipulated by users through touchscreen.

The design also has a cleaner more readable style with dark text and icons that look like silhouettes. L also allows for notifications in the lock screen, as well as levels of privacy that allow users to determine what notifications they want to show. The lock can also be set to recognize and open when a smartwatch is present.

Android L will be more memory efficient, Google claimed, with a new garbage collector and memory allocator to reduce the number of pauses and direction of pauses associated with garbage collection. Keynoter Matias Duarte, vice president of design, said Android L can also apply a “slower, more intensive memory collector to save anything 100s of kilobytes to many megabytes.”

Google also aims to improve battery efficiency with Project Volta, a method of optimizing the subsystem that includes a battery historian that visualizes use over time. A battery saver mode can also be triggered by the user or configured by developers to extend battery life up to 90 minutes.

Google also announced that Nvidia’s Tegra K1 mobile processor will support the Android extension pack for gaming and Android TV, which can be controlled by a smartphone or Android Wear device. Google officials said all of Sony’s HD 4K televisions and 15 sets from Philips will run Android TV by 2015.

The Moto 360 smartwatch features a round face and will be available this summer.

The Moto 360 smartwatch features a round face and will be available this summer.

Tegra will also power Google’s Android Auto, a voice recognition-based system for answering messages, playing music, and navigation. Over 40 new partners have going the Android Auto Alliance, Android Engineering Director Patrick Brady said, and the first Android Auto-enabled vehicles will be sold this year.

To read more, go to “Wearables and smartphones: lowering barriers.”

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