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This is one of the trippiest things I've seen in a while. The music is great (as expected), and the 3D rendered environment is completely navigable and customizable. There's even a bit of a narrative in the experience that you can follow, but honestly the visual effects are so engaging that it could have as much narrative as a Blue's Clues episode and you'd still be enthralled. Dragging the mouse around the experience not only shifts perspective but creates all sorts of cool stuff in real-time, while watching.
I'm literally painting with geometry. I'm painting with shader effects.
New animals spawn, grass grows on the sides of buildings, a swath of rippling black cuts across a landscape (yet devoid of sinister intent). Amazing. You can even go into the back-end of the experience and customize the various models, including building your own. It's, once again, all open source!
Peter Vesterbacka, CEO of Rovio, the firm that gave us the most popular mobile gaming application of all time, got on stage at Google I/O today and told everyone exactly what they wanted to hear:
We wanted to bring Angry Birds to the web for a long, long time, but we didn't want to compromise performance. We aren't making fish in a bowl -- it's all about Angry Birds. Really, really Angry Birds. We've been so angry, because we've never been able to bring Angry Birds to the web.
As we already told you , Angry Birds is now available for download in beta at the Chrome web store, right here. It runs on Firefox 4 and IE 9, but it was originally designed for Chrome, and that's what I recommend anyway after seeing this Keynote.
The Web Angry Birds was built in WebGL, but no worries, it still runs on Canvas. From the keynote, it appears that there's a simple click-and-shoot interface replacing the touch with which we're all so familiar, but I imagine the transition will be easy. I just now installed it, only took a few seconds.
Vesterbacka spoke at great, broken, length on how excited Rovio was to release AB for the web, jocularly citing how much they love the Chrome in-app purchase flat rate of 5%.
I might have seen this one coming, but it was still great to witness. Pichai relinquished the stage to Vikas Gupta, one of the Google Chrome Product Managers on the payments team, who spoke briefly about the benefits of in-app web purchases to businesses, versus mobile. We've already seen a bunch of stats showing that web users (unsurprisingly) are more likely to make purchases in their browsers than on their phones, but the trick is to make the UX as seamless as possible so that "the rhythm" of their browsing experience does not get interrupted.
Vikas gave a nod to a really cool Chrome web application called Graphicly (which I have just installed on my Chrome as of the writing of this post) that helps users read and discover comics and graphic novels on the web. With 600,000 people viewing this Keynote, I can only imagine what this kind of publicity will do for Graphicly. Then again, you should all be reading more comics anyway.
How easy is it as a developer to implement in-app payments in your Chrome web-app? Try one line of code. Boom. Done. After Vikas made a thinly-veiled stab at Apple's developer-back-breaking in-app purchase rate of 30% (without actually naming Apple, but did anyone really not get the ref?), he announced that because Google loves their developers and they want to continue to foster their community.... *drum roll*.....
And now for the second day of Google I/O 2011, which of course brings another keynote speech to kick off the day. Yesterday we saw Android @ Home, Project Tungsten, and some pretty cool NFC demonstrations. Today Vic Gondutra started us off setting the stage (literally) for today's big topic: Chrome. After rehashing the awesome Samsung Tab that everyone in the audience received yesterday, he mentioned that they also came with Verizon Wireless Hotspots, capable of 20mps download.
You didn't have to do anything, (Chrome) just got faster.
Google's Chrome Browser has a growing number of applications available on its web store and it's only logical that Google has devoted an entire schedule block to concentrating on the benefits and capability of a browser that now has 120 million users, and counting. Google gathered representatives of three different companies to tell their success stories regarding their Chrome web apps. First up was Jason Horman Chief Architect of Springpad, the online task tracker.
Springpad is a task application that tracks your tasks, movies, books etc. in order to compile databases for your life. It started off as a website service linked to a mobile application they released a while back. The success of their mobile app in contrast with what Horman described as a service that relied too heavily on the website led Springpad to develop a web app using Chrome. Horman noted how seamless the transition was between mobile and web, and that Chrome facilitated maintaining a similar UX. Springpad doubled its web app users for its first few months in just two months, and has seen a 500% increase in the amount of "saves" since its initial web app launch. 50% of daily time on the app altogether is spent through Chrome, with an average of 30 minutes a day.
10:08 US PST:
I am floored. Absolutely floored. Engadget livebloggers were unnerved by the people weeping in the audience, but I completely understand it now. Joe Brit and Hugo just finished up the Keynote by giving everyone in the audience the new Samsung Tablet, but let's talk about what Joe Brit revealed: The new Android @ Home network, which allows you to use your house as an android accessory. We're not just talking TVs and communicating with wireless capable devices- in fact, the complete opposite. This is cutting-edge NFC that lets a CD talk to a box, or your phone to turn lights on and off.
I'm thinking thermostats, toasters, refrigerators-pretty much the sky is the limit right now. Google has partnered with Light Signs, a company that will be providing LED light bulbs controllable by Android by the end of the year.
We'd like to think of your entire home as an Android accessory
You take the last word out of that sentence and that's where we're headed with this. Brit talked about the development possibilities, including an alarm clock that slowly raises the lights in your room. Or designing a gaming experience that interfaces with your home to provide more immersive sensations. Imagine, you're in Hoth on a Star Wars level and the temperature drops in your room. Or lights flash every time you frag someone in Quake (which they demoed during the speech)
09:33 US PST:
Mike Claron of the Android Engineer team just announced the delicious (seriously, they name all their OS's after food) new Android OS for Q4: Ice Cream Sandwich. Cleron explained that Google wants 1 OS that runs everywhere, something is almost as awesome as the new logo for the aforementioned OS:
This OS is going to be on tablets, phones, expandable laptops, netbooks- everything. ICS will have the holographic UI, the launcher, enhanced multitasking, richer widgets, advanced applications, "everything" (there's that word again. Anyone else feeling Orwellian?). This is part of Google's initiative to invest heavily within the development framework, including al new APIs. And it's all open source!
Claron debuted a facial tracking interface as part of ICS's new features. Not only does this track your eyes, it knows where your nose is. And your mouth. It will shift perspective according to where you're looking (Minority Report. Boom), and in video chat, it automatically zooms in on who's talking. I'll be damned.
Google kicks off their 2011 I/O event in a little under 15 hours and rumors of what will be included at the event are exciting everyone. Thinks like Android 3.0 on phones, Chrome OS, new or upcoming Android-based tablets and most exciting (well, to some) is the possibility of news about a new Google Music app.
Could we see Android 4.0? Who knows, but right now Google's I/O event is full of dreams and whether those dreams materialize into something solid and real - we just have to wait 15 more hours.
16:12 US PST:
UPDATE: Both of the LG Devices will offer Wireless content streaming!! That's right, no plug or HDMI out required (although it's available too).
Tony Curry, LG PR representative, just got up to tell everyone about how much LG loves the Tegra 2 processor. Shipping this week are both the LG G2x smartphone and the LG G Slate tablet, available exclusively on T-Mobile. Life is certainly good with these two devices, sporting 4G capability and optimized battery lives.
Curry waxed enthusiastic about LG Mobile's relationship with NVIDIA:
I don't want to say that we're married to the Tegra platform, but we absolutely love it.
Curry noted that when it came to the best optimization of power, speed, and battery consumption, Tegra won out over other processors. He spoke at great length about the two devices, which appear to be pretty killer- especially with regard to mobile gaming. The G2x brings 512MB of RAM and 8GB ROM that can be upgraded to 32GB Micro USB. Also included is an 8mp camera (front-facing is 1.3mp) and 1080p HD video recording. Starts at Android 2.2, but totally upgradeable to mobile 2.3 Gingerbread come June. Oh, and it's the first DTS Ultra Mobile phone. Ever. That means some of the sickest sound you've seen on a mobile device. I witnessed it myself, it's incredible.
The G Slate tablet is like the G2x's bigger, badder older brother. A gig of RAM, 32gb ROM, and a passive 3D engine.
15:33 US PST:
A very animated Russian just gave a great presentation on the optimization of mobile games. According to Oleg Strikov, NVIDIA Mobile Dev, developers should always follow the 1/200 ratio: the simplest of optimizations on your game can net you a 200% gain in efficiency.
Prikov explained to the audience the options available to developers for optimization- some not so desirable:
Look through all of your code- it's not the right way, I think. Add software counters- hour of work. NVIDIA Performance Tools- less than 3 minutes! Pretty Nice!
This last statement elicited some chuckles from the audience, as it had amusing symmetry to similar quotes from everybody's favorite fake Kazak, Borat. Entertainment aside, Prikov stressed the importance of avoiding premature optimization by utilizing the vat suite of performance tools that NVIDIA's developing platform offers.
No need to optimize from scratch- make some magic!
More photos in the Gallery.