Google I/O 2017 Gives a Glimpse of the Future
Google’s annual I/O conference is an opportunity for the tech giant to give a preview of what is coming over the next 12 months. The 2017 version was all that and more. What developers learned this year involves more than just a few new toys they will have at their disposal. Google I/O 2017 has given them a glimpse of the direction in which Android mobile development is heading.
Tech Republic’s Jack Wallen published a great piece on May 18 with all the juicy details. Rather than getting into those details, this article takes a broader approach. Needless to say, it appears Google has some paradigm shifting changes built into its long-range plans.
Device and Data Security
It goes without saying that device and data security is always at the top of the list of priorities for app development. That is true for both Android and iOS development. But it appears as though Google is upping its game with something known as Google Play Protect. Wallen describes Google Play Protect as a security suite meant to keep devices and data secure through Google’s Play Store.
According to Wallen, Google Play Protect immediately starts working to protect data and device the minute a new app is uploaded to the Play Store. Wallen also says the platform will automatically disable applications that it believes could harm devices. This could create an interesting conundrum for people who want to root their phones and tablets. We’ll have to wait and see.
Google has two new OS projects in the pipeline known as Android Go and Android O. The former is a scaled-down version of the latter intended to be used on older devices with limited resources. It will include a separate core set of Google apps that are not as resource hungry. Google plans to market Android Go in developing countries.
Android O looks to be a new iteration of the Android OS designed for the rest of the world. There are not a lot of details available yet, but developers can download and install a beta version on a limited number of devices for testing purposes.
Lastly, Google appears prepared to invest significantly in boosting on-device capabilities. For example, they introduced a new light version of TensorFlow to do just that. Android developers at Austin-based iTexico describe TensorFlow as a Google-developed software library that enables artificial learning on computerized machines.
TensorFlow Lite is a new version of the library built specifically for mobile devices running Android. Google says it will open the door to new capabilities for machine learning, covering a variety of things from speech processing to augmented reality to visual searching.
Among all the things announced at Google I/O 2017, their vision for enhanced on-device capabilities might very well be the most important. Google has long sought an open door that would draw a clear line of delineation between Android and iOS. This could be it. If they are willing to put all their resources behind on-device capabilities, they could become the de facto pioneer for mobile AI, VR, AR, and voice command.
What It Means for Developers
In the short term, developers like iTexico will not notice any tangible difference in their day-to-day operations. But by the end of the year, the gradual implementation of Google’s announced strategies could mean a very different development environment for Android. The fact that Google has also added Kotlin as an official Android programming language indicates they are dead serious about pushing both on-device capabilities and their two new OSs.