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May 17, 2013

Google I/O 2013 overview

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We all had big expectations going into Google’s annual developer conference this year. Google I/O 2013 would be massive, with new products, a new version of Android and plenty of updates to existing hardware, apps and services. Surprisingly then, I’m not disappointed that we only saw apps and services announcements from Google, and no new hardware or version of Android. Let’s go over some of the coolest stuff that was announced for Android users.

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Google Samsung Galaxy S4

The only big hardware reveal of the night was more of a software reveal – Google pulled out a Samsung Galaxy S4, but then revealed it was running stock Android for a “Nexus experience”, referring Google’s line of Android reference platforms that have become increasingly popular as of late. The Google Edition Galaxy S4 will be updated and sold directly by Google themselves, and will come with features appealing to developers and enthusiasts like an unlocked bootloader and a completely stock Android OS. Of course, the phone is compatible with the wide range of Galaxy S4 accessories and has the same great hardware, including LTE. The phone goes on sale June 26th for $649.

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Google Play Music All Access

Google Play Music has always been a great music provider for Android users with its digital locker service (upload 20,000 of your own songs to stream anywhere) and music store (with pretty much all of the major labels). This week it got better with the new All Access service, which is similar to Spotify: it’s a subscription-based service that allows you access to Google’s entire music catalog. The service will cost $7.99 per month for early adopters (before July 30th) and $9.99 for those that sign up later. So far the service is only launching in the US, but it should come to a few other countries in time.

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Google Play Game Services

Another big reveal for the developers in the audience was Game Services, a new set of features that game developers can include in their apps. Pretty much everything you’d expect from a modern gaming network was included, from multiplayer matchmaking, realtime competitive or cooperative play, achievements, leaderboards and cloud game saves. It’s a great thing that Google’s made these features available to developers and should really make games on the platform a lot more capable. You can try out the new features in launch titles like World of Goo, Modern Combat 4 or Plague Inc.

Conclusion

While these three announcements are big enough in and of themselves, I’m leaving out many dozens of announcements that were made during the epic three and a half hour conference. If you’ve got the time, I’d definitely recommend checking out the full stream on YouTube.

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Dave Thornton

Senior Editor

Senior Editor
Been involved in technology for many years, more than I care to remember. Live in Dundee, Scotland. I like Android, Windows Phone OS, BlackBerry OS and iOS, and love writing about all things techie. Currently have a Honor 6+, Elephone P6000, Nexus 5, Chrombook C720, HTC One M7, Nokia Lumina 625, Microsoft Lumia 435, Blackberry Q10, HTC Hero and iPad mini