byChris Ziegler||February 2nd 2011 at 12:52pmFebruary 2nd 2011 12:52 pm
We're holed up in Building 43 of the Googleplex here in lovely Mountain View, California for today's event promising an "in-depth look at Honeycomb, Android ecosystem news, and hands-on demos" -- and if you ask us, that sounds like a trifecta of potential awesome. We'll be liveblogging all of the action and hopefully following up with some hands-ons, so keep it locked right here for all the little green robots (and -- just maybe -- large black tablets) that you can handle.
10:54AM And that's it. Hands-on time!
10:54AM Considering that this is over WiFi, we're concerned about 3G / 4G use.
10:54AM A little bit of a delay in the video chat, but not bad. Sound quality is somewhere between AM and FM radio, we'd say.
10:53AM It's Cee-Lo!
10:53AM "Uh, Hugo? There's some guy looking at you from your tablet."
10:53AM SDK is being released today, and will go live for consumers by the end of the quarter.
10:53AM Turns out Disney just got access to the purchasing SDK five days ago. Of course, they've been working on Tap Tap Revenge 4 for Android for some time, but the purchase integration just took a few days.
10:52AM And that's it for Tap Tap Revenge 4; "coming this spring with the launch of in-app billing."
10:52AM Rocking out to Bruno Mars' Somewhere In Brooklyn. Woooo!
10:51AM The UI basically looks the same as when you're buying an app; naturally, you can change your payment method, and carrier billing is supported just as it is in the Market itself.
10:50AM Here we go: song purchases in the app are using Google's in-app purchasing SDK.
10:49AM Tap Tap Revenge 4 now. Still haven't seen in-app purchasing demoed though.
10:48AM Radio Disney launching within a couple weeks. Next, JellyCar.
10:47AM Looking at Radio Disney app now.
10:47AM 60M downloads for these guys. "Now that we're coming to Android, I think that number's about to get a lot bigger."
10:46AM Google's been working on the feature with a couple partners -- here comes a Disney Mobile rep to talk about their work.
10:46AM Apparently, this one was added in response to widespread developer interest.
10:46AM If you integrate with Google's in-app purchasing SDK, you'll be able to charge stuff from within apps.
10:45AM In-app purchases are coming!
10:45AM Currency conversion -- "buyer currency support." The Market will now allow developers to enter explicit prices for support currencies so that users don't see crazy automatic conversions. Phased rollout on this one, and it's developer opt-in -- they can continue to allow automatic conversion if they like.
10:44AM Now we're talking about the purchasing process.
10:43AM You can give nicknames to your registered devices so you've got an easier way to remember them... should you have a bunch in your possession.
10:42AM In the case of free apps, there is no second screen when you decide to download -- one click and you're done.
10:42AM In search results, the webs store lets you filter by device compatibility (nice) and price.
10:41AM The deep links work regardless of whether you're on your PC or on your phone. On the PC, they go to the web store; on the phone, they go straight to the Market.
10:40AM You've got a Tweet button on the app pages so you can automatically tweet about them. Huh... no Buzz button? What's that all about?
10:39AM You've also got deep links straight to apps in the web store, which Google is positioning as a good way to share recommendations with friends over email. True... if not a little obvious.
10:38AM Now we're looking at his Nexus S -- it already has a notification that the app is downloading. Wow, seamless to the max.
10:37AM On the next screen, you can choose your payment method. "I'm going to put this on the Google corporate card. Is that OK, Andy?"
10:37AM When you pick an app to buy, it asks you which of your registered devices to install to; it also pops up the standard list of requested permissions (Android owners are already well familiar with this).
10:36AM Purchase and install time!
10:36AM Talking about the app description page: "The first thing that you'll notice is that the page is graphically rich, and it's rich in a way that developers can control."
10:35AM Featured, top paid, and top free apps on the top page, categories on the left.
10:35AM URL is market.android.com.
10:34AM You can browse through the entire catalog of apps, plus purchase and install directly from the web.
10:34AM Android Market Web Store!
10:33AM "I've never met a team that's as dedicated and hard-working as the Market team, and they've worked tirelessly to get these features ready for this today."
10:32AM "We're making changes to meet the needs of both developers and users."
10:32AM Android's engineering director for cloud services is taking the stage to talk about getting apps to users -- presumably a Market discussion.
10:32AM Barra is back on stage.
10:31AM "As tablets grow around the world, we want to be there." Tablets + CNN = profit, it seems.
10:30AM "What a powerful way to connect the news to individuals."
10:29AM In addition to browsing existing iReports, you can capture photos and video right from the app, add a description, and upload. Boom, you're famous.
10:28AM Now we're going to take a look at the second half of this app's equation -- CNN iReport. First time iReport has been on a tablet.
10:27AM Looking at some live video in the app right now; quality isn't bad. This is all over WiFi, by the way.
10:26AM "Based on our testing, this is an incredibly immersive experience. Consumers love it."
10:26AM Looking at the "broadsheet" view. Looks pretty solid -- LOTS of content on one screen. Could be a little overwhelming, but we'll have to use it.
10:25AM Demoing CNN's Android tablet experience, launching soon for free.
10:25AM Now we've got the VP of mobile for CNN on the stage.
10:24AM Not a very long demo, but we got a sense of how it connects and looks... and it's exactly what you'd expect. Once you're connected, your front camera view goes to the bottom right and your contact takes the whole screen.
10:23AM Here we go -- he's connected.
10:23AM We're looking through Barra's contact screen right now -- he's trying to find someone to video chat with. Give us a Xoom, man, and we'll be happy to do it.
10:22AM "We've spent a lot of time building image stabilization technology into Honeycomb for video chat." Interestingly, it saves bandwidth, because the image stays more similar for a longer period of time. Huh!
10:21AM Time for Google Talk video chat!
10:21AM "We think this is a really cool new UI." We tentatively agree -- looks solid.
10:21AM New camera UI in Honeycomb is being demoed now. Thank goodness -- the existing camera UI was definitely one of Android's weakest pain points.
10:20AM Barra describes the games as "absolutely stunning." That might be going a bit far, but they certainly weren't bad -- and we're sure it'll get better.
10:20AM Both titles launching within the next month!
10:20AM Now, Great Battles, described as an "educational" game. First title the studio has developed to take full advantage of two mobile cores. Seriously, the frame rate is NOT awesome... but the graphics are pretty hot.
10:19AM Third-party app demo time... Monster Madness, ported from PS3 to Honeycomb. Looks good, but a little jerky in places -- we'd put it on roughly the same plane as the best iPad games.
10:17AM Now, Google Body -- "the Google Maps of the human body." The rendering is super-smooth and very impressive. Looks like it might not have quite as much antialiasing as a desktop... but this is a tablet, after all.
10:17AM New Music app with 3D album browsing mode.
10:16AM Now we're looking at Google Maps. Nothing new here, though -- the same 3D tilt capability that's already rolled out.
10:16AM Google Books has Renderscript action going on, too.
10:15AM Honeycomb also includes a new graphics library known as Renderscript; he's demoing a 3D wall of videos in the platform's YouTube app as an example of a Renderscript screen.
10:15AM He's going between the home screen and the widget selection view to demonstrate how fluid the graphics are as he transitions between the two.
10:14AM Now the discussion is turning to performance. "We've spent a lot of time optimizing performance in Honeycomb, particularly with 2D and 3D graphics."
10:13AM Talking about the Application Bar at the top of the screen now; Barra also describes this as a type of fragment that can be reused. It contains "global actions" for use within the app.
10:12AM The panes are described by Google as "application fragments." They can be laid out independently of one another (for different UIs in landscape and portrait, for example) and the idea is to be able to reuse fragments between phone and tablet UIs.
10:12AM Now we're seeing two-pane Gmail.
10:11AM Fruit Ninja looked pretty much as you expect -- the existing app, just bigger. Multitouch (as Barra says, "multi-handed") gestures fully supported.
10:11AM "You can probably tell that I'm getting really good at this."
10:10AM "An app that has been designed with our recommended guidelines is going to run really well on tablets." Demo time -- an existing version of Fruit Ninja running unmodified on a Xoom.
10:09AM Wow -- some of these notifications are basically pop-up widgets. Barra is demoing the music notification, which lets him pause and change tracks by tapping on the music icon in the notification bar. OutKast in the mix, by the way.
10:09AM Since you've got more screen real estate, these are "richer" notifications than you get on an Android phone. Pictures, notably.
10:08AM "Another thing we've redesigned in Honeycomb is the notification system."
10:07AM We'll admit, these are some of the best-looking, smoothest-operating widgets we think we've ever seen on any platform. It's obvious that these are going to be a key focus of Android's tablet push.
10:07AM Referring to widgets: "The home screen is a really important part of our developer story. It's an application development platform in itself."
10:06AM Looks like we're going to be concentrating on tablet-optimized Android apps here to start.
10:05AM "Our approach has been to equip developers with the best possible toolkit, and then get out of their way."
10:05AM Here comes Hugo Barra!
10:04AM Rubin's got a Xoom in his hand, by the way. Foreshadowing!
10:04AM "There's lots of future opportunity for seeing Android in new places. One thing you're going to see is how Google's cloud services tie everything together. You could literally lose your laptop, your phone, or your tablet, and all your data is safe and secure."
10:03AM "We consider ourselves the shepherd" of Android.
10:03AM After Honeycomb, we're going to hear about "new, interesting features" coming in the Android Market.
10:02AM "We have a pretty good demo of the Motorola Xoom running Honeycomb."
10:02AM Andy Rubin's on stage!
10:01AM The event hasn't started yet, but we see what appear to be two Xooms connected to HDMI on the podium.
9:58AM We were just asked not to use MiFis, which seems to be a new up-and-coming trend with major press events. Just not enough WiFi spectrum to go around.
9:55AM We're in and seated. Lots of the usual suspects from the press are here, of course. Google's new Evil Bee (our term, not theirs) with black and blue coloring is prominently featured on the projection screen.