Google spent more than three hours yesterday showing off what’s next for Android, Chrome, Google Search, and more. There were no eye-popping demos like last year’s sky-diving Google Glass extravaganza, and we didn’t see any hardware announcements, save for Google’s version of the Galaxy S 4.
Still, there were several things that caught our attention and should appeal to Web users and the Google faithful. Larry Page even made an appearance and took questions from the audience.
After several weeks of speculation, for example, Google formally unveiled its subscription “All Access” music service – beating Apple to the punch with a $9.99 per month offering. Stay tuned for whether music lovers will abandon rivals like Spotify to check out Google’s offering – or if this is the kick in the pants that Cupertino needs to add a subscription option to iTunes at next month’s WWDC.
One area in which Apple can’t quite compete with Google (yet) is mapping, something to which Google alluded to in its opening keynote yesterday when it referred to Google Maps as “accurate” – with a smirk. Apple now has even farther to go if it wants to catch up with Google, after the search giant unveiled a totally revamped Google Maps (above). It taps into the technology that powers Google Now in order to serve up a more personal Maps experience, and even pulls in 3D Google Earth imagery for some pretty impressive 360s.
There were some smaller announcements for Gmail, too, from the ability to email money thanks to Google Wallet and the addition of “Quick Action” buttons in the inbox.
For those of you who couldn’t spare three hours yesterday afternoon, check out the slideshow for the highlights.
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