Today was a big day for all the Google and Android fans out there. A new version of Android was announced, Google announced their new music beta service, and if you were lucky enough to be there today, you got a free Limited Edition Galaxy Tab.
Google first announced that they now have over 100 million Android activations so far and about 400,000 new devices are being activated every day. They have also reached 200,000 applications in the market with over 4.5 billion downloads since it’s launch about 3 years ago. Now for the real juicy news.
Google announced the Honeycomb 3.1 update and some of it’s new highlights. They include USB support for peripherals like keyboards, mice, gamepads (they demoed with an XBOX 360 controller), etc. New VOIP capabilities, push-to-talk, video conferencing, audio streaming (Music Beta), and more. They have to include smoother UI animations to enhance the end-user experience, a new launcher, better multitasking, WiFi connectivity even with the display turned off, and other functional tweaks to the calendar, email, browser, etc. The new version of Honeycomb 3.1 will be released to Xoom 3G devices in the next couple of weeks.
Google also showed off it’s newest Android release, set for the fourth quarter of this year, code-named Ice Cream Sandwich. Ice Cream Sandwich is set to fix Android’s OS fragmentation and get all of the devices on the same version. Google has also been working with several carriers and vendors to better handle firmware upgrades for their customers. Customers who also buy new devices will receive the latest Android builds for eighteen months after the device is released, as long as the hardware allows. I’m digging the new logo.
Google also showed off it’s new Cloud music service named Music Beta, which for now is invite only and is currently free while in beta. This service will allow you to store up to 20,000 songs for on-demand streaming to your computer or Android device. You can create and edit playlists, download songs for offline listening, and create an instant mix that matches songs up together. They also showed off their new movie rental in the Android Market which will give you offline viewing of movies, on a renting basis (24 hour view time, 30-day checkout). Offline is currently only set for the Xoom for the time being, but Google says support for its other devices is coming soon.
Overall, it’s been a good day at Google I/O, and we’re looking forward to seeing what tomorrow will bring. Stay tuned here for more news from the conference tomorrow.