Google's annual showcase unveils new connections [China Daily: Hong Kong Edition]
(China Daily: Hong Kong Edition Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) More than 6,000 geeks, app developers and Google fans flocked to San Francisco's Moscone Center on Wednesday to attend Google I/O's annual conference and unveiling of new products. Wearable devices, Google Fit for personal health, Google Auto for connected cars and Google TV were the favorites among Chinese developers here to explore and learn.
With a simple click on the Google Fit app, users can manage their daily workout information, ranging from number of steps to lose weight, meal intake and nutrition to getting a daily summary that can be uploaded for personal use or sharing.
"The service allows Google users to volunteer their health records either manually or by utilizing personal wearable devices to manage fitness, merging potentially separate health records into one centralized Google Fit profile," said Matias Duarte, Google's vice-president of design.
"But the key point is: you are in control, it's your decision whether to share it with the public or not."
The previous Google Health service was released to the general public in 2008 but closed in January 2012 due to lack of widespread adoption. The other concern was privacy-related issues, since it did encourage users to set up personal medical profiles online.
According to its Terms of Service, Google Health is not considered a "covered entity" under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, therefore HIPAA privacy laws do not apply to it.
Mike, a Chinese developer who declined to give his company name, said the most attractive announcement for him concerned the wearable devices.
"It's fascinating to see what Google has announced on wearable devices, which are definitely trendy for China, and something we could witness and learn," he said. "We are actually working on similar developments on our own platform, which is tailored for the Chinese market and end users."
Bruce, a Chinese software engineer attending the show, said what he saw about Google Auto made him want to learn more.
A company engineer said "Google Auto allows us to have a brand-new experience in connecting our cars, which has not happened in the Chinese market, yet it's definitely something the industry can utilize for the future. Since Android is the most used mobile operating system today, it gives all Chinese developers a positive signal on creating Android experiences within a strong ecosystem."
For high-tech firms, much of the enthusiasm behind the emerging wearable devices comes from the prospect of a bountiful data platform. Companies providing software or making these devices see revenue potential in helping customers store and manage data.
In the Wednesday keynote speech, Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice-president of Android, Chrome and Apps, said that Google would share basic design building blocks of smartphones with manufacturers in developing countries. Its platforms slated for release include Mobile Momentum, Platform Evolution and Developer Success.
According to Pichai, Google's global smartphone shipments reached 315 million in Q4 of 2013, and its Android tablet activations had an increase of 62 percent in 2014.
The 30-day active Android users reached 538 million in 2013, and its 30-day active users on the Android platform have now reached 1 billion. Its next goal is to reach 5 billion people.
"We are pooling our resources to work on a set of platforms including high quality smartphones, turnkey solutions for our OEM vendors and partnerships on software to innovate our user-friendly experience," said Pichai.
Kun Wu, senior project leader of TouchPal, a mobile software developer running on multiple platforms including Android, iOS, Windows Mobile and Windows 8 based in Shanghai, said he was impressed by all the new products and services released at the I/O.
"The new announcement gives us better ideas of what kind of new services are delivered on Google's Android platform, which is the most used platform in China," said Wu.
Avi Greengart, research director of consumer platforms and devices at Current Analysis, based in New York, said Google's release shows "a new, graphically consistent version of Android coming later this year, and extending Android from phone to tablet, TV, car and wrist. However, it did not talk about Glass, Nest, Google+, or Search. Nor did it talk about expanding its presence in China with Lenovo."
Google said it has paid developers around the world $5 billion for purchases related to their apps.
(China Daily 06/27/2014 page17)
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