Three Things We’ve Learned From Google I/O 2014

26 Jun 2014

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Here in the digital world we always get excited about the annual Google Conference. Here are three things we learned this year.

Design

Don’t tell Apple, but Google has turned its back on Flat Design.

Microsoft brought Flat Design to the forefront of the digital world in 2006 with their answer to the iPod, the Zune Media Player. Had the Zune been more successful (at its peak, it had 10% of the market share, compared with the iPod’s 60+ percent), Flat Design may have graced our screens sooner, but because Apple insisted on making better looking and more sought after products, Flat Design didn’t reappear on any large scale until the Windows Phone 7 in 2010. Microsoft called this design “Metro” (again, determined for it to be unpopular – “Metro”, really?”) and it introduced it into Windows 8. Now this “Metro” (urgh.) design can be found all across Microsoft technologies.

Google followed suit into the world of Flat Design, flattening their logo in 2013. Which forced Apple to give up their favourite skeuomorphism, and enter the flat world. The world made a pretty big deal about this. So I’m sure they won’t be best please that Google has now announced that they’re over flat. It’s done. Material Design, that’s what it’s all about now.

Material Design 101

Bold. Colourful. Simplistic. Aesthetically awesome.

If you want to know more, try and decipher Google’s own metaphors: “The material is grounded in tactile reality, inspired by the study of paper and ink, yet technologically advanced and open to imagination and magic”. Find out all you need to know here.

Yeah. OK, Google.

Wearable Tech

Someone pretty high up at Google wants to be Inspector Gadget. Or a Transformer. Basically anyone who gets to look like a half-robot-half-human-super-human. From Google Glass to Android Watches, it’s pretty clear that wearable tech is what makes Google tick these days.

We’ve known about Android Wear for some time now, but now they’ve officially been released, along with integrations with Google’s Smart Assistant (Smart Ass?) technology – Google Now.

Glass is also available to the public now too, and Google are doing their absolute best to ensure users look stylish and not like Cyclops from Xmen.

Google Cardboard

Now the cleaners at Google HQ know why their recycle bins are always empty. At the I/O this year, Google presented each audience member with a piece of cardboard. A few quick folds, a couple of bends, a magnet and some Velcro later, and suddenly this unassuming piece of cardboard has become a virtual reality headset. Pretty cool, Google, pretty cool.

Is this a hint at what’s to come, of what is in the Pipeline, of why Google staff have been eating pizza for lunch every day for the last month?

So what have we learned from this year’s I/O?

Google’s recycling program is way cooler than we would have expected, for a tech company they sure do love a good metaphor, and somewhere in the depths of Google someone has a thing for the Terminator.