Google Wants to Be Your Sidekick, Everywhere

PHOTO: Dave Burke, left, director of engineering at Android, speaks about Android TV
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What kind of smartphone you have could make the difference in your future buying habits.

The keynote address at Google's annual developer's conference today in San Francisco was jam-packed with Android announcements, as a succession of company honchos took the stage to announce the latest innovations that extend from wearable technology to the home and automobile.

Working within the Android ecosystem, each gadget can seamlessly take orders from a person's smartphone -- keeping the control in the palm of the user's hand.

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The two-day I/O conference is geared toward developers. However, here's what Android aficionados need to know about today's announcements.

Android Wants to Ride Along

Will Apple’s CarPlay take a backseat to Android Auto?

The voice-enabled system was designed to connect to Android smartphones, while also negating the need to pick up the devices while driving. It will be in at least 25 car brands before the end of the year, Google engineering director Patrick Brady said.

The dashboard will focus on programming your favorite music, phone calls and seamless navigation.

Smart Watch

The watch runs on Android Wear and can “act as your key in a multi-screen world,” said David Singleton, director of Android.

Through brief interactions with the device, it can learn the “context of what you care about,” Singleton said, such as whether an upcoming flight is on time or if it’s expected to rain later that day.

The watch, which connects to a user’s Android devices, can carry out a variety of tasks, all from the user's verbal commands, including ordering a pizza or scheduling a car service with Lyft.

Talk to Your TV

Android TV will be in a set-top box beginning later this year, integrating the Android experience into television. Users can literally talk to their televisions with voice recognition, watch live television, play Android games on the big screen and find content from Google Play, YouTube and more.

If home users opt in, they can allow visiting friends to cast content from their Android devices onto your television, without needing access to your home Wi-Fi network.

The feature works by simply connecting to Chromecast through the cloud and only authenticates users in the same room.

Sweet Treat

Google isn't releasing the full name of the latest Android update yet and is simply calling it "L." However in keeping with the sweet names of previous versions in alphabetical order -- Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean and KitKat -- it's a safe bet that lollipop and licorice are in the running.

The Android update is set to make its debut later this year.

Emerging Markets

The Android One initiative was unveiled as a way to help manufacturers build low-cost smartphones for emerging markets, such as India, where demand has skyrocketed.

Google Fit

Google Fit, a health tracker, was introduced and will provide a “unified view of a user’s activity,” company officials said. The tracker will collect data from various fitness trackers and other synced devices, including the new Android Wear.

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