This year’s Google I/O keynote wasn’t as flashy as years past, when new phones and tablets getting centerstage. But the company did drop several smaller nuggets at the conference, including new designs for Google Maps, a Spotify-like service and the announcement that users will be able to send money through Gmail.
Those projects can seem disparate, but together they offer a larger picture of what Google’ is aiming for — an all-in-one portal that addresses all our online needs by tapping into its enormous bank of consumer information.
That’s the goal of every tech titan — Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook — who are trying to be all things to all people by offering hardware, software, cloud services, entertainment hubs and payment mechanisms that put their own brands front and center.
But the I/O conference showed how much progress Google has made at hitting this goal. After being criticized as having too many irons in the fire and having little focus, it looks like Google is literally getting its act together.
In his remarks at the conference Wednesday, chief executive Larry Page said it’s been good for the company to try new things. But he also sketched out a lofty vision of how technology (we can probably read “Google technology” into the subtext here) can make our lives easier to manage by using the data we pour into Web services.
And, Page declared, Google is only at “one percent” of its future potential.
Wednesday’s announcements showed a company bent on melding its most successful services with its other ones so that people will be using multiple Google products, by default, every day. Now, Google+ recommendations show up in the new Maps. Google Wallet powers the tech that lets you send cash through e-mail attachments. The new Google Music All Access service lets you share songs to Google+ and share videos of those songs that appear on YouTube. And with its ambitious announcements about Google+, the company will be competing in new areas, including photo editing and messaging, to make the social network more attractive.
The company is working on how to repackage and funnel all that information to users in a single place.
Google Now mines the data that the company collects from a number of Google services and, when enabled, from the location of your mobile phone. But the voice search presentation that Google showed off at the conference takes that strategy even farther into a space staked out by rival Apple. Make some room, Siri: Google has built a search engine that allows users to ask questions that it then answers by accessing users’ contact information. Just say “Okay, Google,” and the search engine perks up its digital ears, already primed with the info it needs to attend to nearly every one of your online needs.
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