Google Android Expands in Features and Reach

This week Google hosted its annual Google I/O conference where it made several announcements concerning its Android operating system. Android has recently become the most popular smart phone operating system in the U.S. and in the world. Now Android is expanding in several new directions. Google’s new Open Accessory initiative combined with the Android Development Kit will allow anyone to create hardware accessories that can be controlled by Android. Android can even be used to control robots and mechanized creations constructed from the popular Arduino do-it-yourself gadget development kit. Android@Home will be released by the end of the year to control home appliances and electronics. It will allow users with an Android-based smart phone to communicate with and control all types of home electronics including lights, kitchen appliances, televisions and stereos, security systems, exercise equipment, and even Windows and Mac computers. Google also unveiled a cloud music service that allows Android users to store all of their music on the Internet to access from any Internet-connected device. Amazon released a similar service just recently, and Apple is expected to announce the same any day now.

New notebook computers from Samsung and Acer running the latest version of Google’s Chrome OS for PCs will go on sale in June, marking Google’s fist assault on a market dominated by Microsoft and Apple. Google’s upcoming version of the Android operating system, named Ice Cream Sandwich, will be designed as a unified system that will combine Android and Chrome to provide one operating system for all kinds of devices: PC’s notebooks, tablets, and smart phones. Apple has already accomplished a unified system with its OS X which is essentially the same OS on Mac PCs, Macbooks, iPads, and iPhones. Microsoft is working towards the same goal. Unified systems will hopefully extend to software as well, so a user could purchase only one version of, say, Angry Birds, to run on all devices, and tracks your progress and settings across devices so you can pick up your smart phone, and pick up right where you left off on your notebook.

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