Great Scott! Google might not be creating automatic rubber shoes or fancy hoverboards but it certainly is bringing the future closer to today. The recent Google I|O conference gave devs and pundits alike lots of innovations to think about and discuss. Let’s see some of the things we can expect from Android in the future.
Android @ Home
I use a lot of automation on my computer and phone and extending that to my home has been one of my goals. The Android @ Home project makes this dream real and it delivers some good old open source home automation to everyone, well at least everyone who can afford the hardware. Don’t fret though, with time you will be able to purchase cheaper hardware that works with it. The @ Home initiative give you control over more than just fixtures like lights but also appliances from TVs to washing machines.
And did I mention that it works with apps as well? Soon, Android apps will be able to communicate with your home and possible applications range from dad’s penny pinching app that can turn off unused lights to mom’s recipe app that delivers cooking suggestions based on what’s in the fridge.
It’s not necessarily the future home we all have been expecting, but being able to know everything that goes on in your house and being able to control them makes managing a home that much easier. It also means less worries since you can automate chores, like a smarter Roomba but for everything and not just sweeping the floor
But the best part? You now can create that fancy home theatre in your man cave that plays an entrance song and shoot confetti whenever you walk in (that’s in addition to automatically popping some corn for your movie marathon).
It’s been a slow rollout but carriers have finally made 4G connectivity available to many of the key cities around the globe. Granted, the ecosystem of Android gadgets that support this high speed internet standard isn’t that vast but it will definitely be soon enough. Since 4G is capable of pushing out 1Gbps with home connections and 100Mbps while on the go, it clearly blows away everything from cable DSL to HSDPA.
For mobile devices, this means that harnessing the computing power of the cloud becomes a more viable prospect, turning any smartphone into a powerful computer. HD movie streaming, mobile video editing, virtual OS in a box applications – you name it, 4G can sustain it.
And it’s not just for CPU-hungry processes as well. 4G also means that data can be delivered as quickly as if your phone was connected to a LAN port. Social apps can now more easily integrate video and audio. Mobile apps can go head to head with their computer-based counterparts in terms of speed, functionality and more importantly, price.
Most of all, mobile can integrate more user-friendly features like autosuggest, page caching and adaptive interfaces without taxing the phone’s processor or battery. This last one works in favor of mobile commerce (or mcommerce) which targets the on-the-go buyer who often values speed and convenience, and are even willing to pay a premium for it.
Near-Field Communication and Google Wallet
Speaking of mcommerce, NFC is the hot new hardware add-on that many newer smartphones are carrying these days, and it’s going to bring mcommerce to everyone. Simply put, NFC or near-field communication is kind of like Bluetooth but without all that pairing, and with more robust security. It sends data between two NFC-enabled devices, wrapped around with encryption that makes it ideal for payment solutions and identification purposes.
Google is making a big bet on NFC and recently launched a new product named Google Wallet. This app is a bridge between your credit cards (and we hope other kinds of accounts as well) and your phone, making payments as easy as a tap of your phone. It does require the device to have NFC baked in but manufacturers are working on solutions to enable backward compatibility like chips on microSD cards or using an NFC sticker on your phone to make it work. With time, NFC will surely become a standard and the ubiquity of Android will help a lot in pushing how it can be used.
But it’s the innovative use of NFC beyond commerce and security that we should look out for. It can be used to create mini-social networks between phones, which makes sharing videos, pictures and message at events a lot easier. It’s also a way to easily create mini-LAN networks where all friendly devices can share data together (also great for multiplayer games). NFC can also be used as a social secret key that can open anything from reserved parking garages and VIP lounges to geocache boxes and private mailboxes.