Life Tech Google’s Android world: Cars, watches and TVs coming

Google’s Android world: Cars, watches and TVs coming

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Google has set out to expand its Android empire beyond smartphones to cars, watches and televisions.

The technology titan laid out a sweeping Android vision on Wednesday at the opening of a sold-out developers conference in a keynote presentation streamed online to millions of people across the world.

“We are beginning to evolve our platforms beyond mobile,” Android and Chrome teams chief Sundar Pichai said of how Google’s twin operating systems are being adapted to work together and with new types of computing hardware.

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Google’s goal, he said, is to have its software serve as a foundation for applications, services or digital content delivered seamlessly across the increasingly diverse array of internet-linked screens in people’s lives.

A new LG G smart watch and a freshly-announced Gear Live smart watch by Samsung that both work with the “Android Wear” platform is being made available at the online shop Google Play.

LG's new Android Wear-powered watch.
LG’s new Android Wear-powered watch.

On-stage demonstrations included ordering a pizza in seconds, fielding reminders and messages, and using voice commands on smart watches.

A new Moto smart watch will join the Android Wear lineup later this year, with more on the way.

Android Auto software tailored for cars, synching smartphones with in-dashboard screens and controls, is being shared with car makers and vehicles “should be rolling off lots” by the end of this year, Google says.

Android Auto brings apps like Google Maps and Spotify music service to “an interface built for driving,” according to a new coalition of technology and car companies called the Open Automotive Alliance.

The Moto 360 by Motorola, an Android Wear smartwatch.
The Moto 360 by Motorola, an Android Wear smartwatch.

“There can be no denying the connected car era has arrived,” Audi AG electronics development head Ricky Hudi said.

“With it comes the expectation that the data and functions provided by smartphone apps will seamlessly bridge to Audi infotainment environments as the ‘fourth screen’ in our customers’ lives.”

Google also announced another shot at smart televisions with Android TV software for what are typically the biggest screens in homes.

Android smartphones, complete with voice command features, could be used to direct searches and more on television screens and Android games from the Google Play shop could also be played on televisions.

Google Glass guide Alice Gabon.
Google Glass guide Alice Gabon.

Gartner consumer technology research director Brian Blau said Google was trying to be more like Apple, creating more consistent experiences with devices that work together.

Apple so tightly controls the software powering its iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices that developers can more easily target broad audiences.

Improving how well popular services or applications work across the growing array of Android-powered devices should entice users to “lock in” to the Google-backed platform, Blau says.

“A consistent experience will help Google in the long run.”