Google’s Android makeover gives advertisers new canvasses to reach consumers from TV search to smartwatch notifications to shopping carts. The company is showing off its latest upgrades at its developers conference, Google I/O, this week.
The event is for developers and digital marketers, who build the products and services on Android devices. Google is clearly expanding its footprint with Android software for phones, cars, watches and TVs.
“The design standard across Web, phones—it’s amazing stuff,” said Craig Elimeliah, director of creative technology at Rapp. “We’ve been waiting for a standard.”
The standard Elimeliah refers to is what a Google calls “material design,” and it unifies what can sometimes be a fragmented playground that is the Android software.
Google is not Apple, which has one phone and a single operating system. Hardware makers offer dozens of phones with different degrees of access to Google’s latest Android.
The new design standard is bringing new possibilities.
“The whole thing is a giant ad product,” said one digital media executive. “There are hooks in everything for more targeted ads.”
Here’s a look at Google’s new material design and how marketers can build for the next-generation Android products:
Mobile search re-envisioned
There is a new flat, fluid continuous animation while scrolling through mobile search, using graphics capabilities that weren’t available a year ago, the company said during the developers conference. Google is opening material design style cards that appear at the top of search results to all developers. These cards can be ads and can link directly to apps.
Apps to Web and back to apps
Like Facebook and Apple, which both showed new looks to developers in recent months, Google is making it easier to jump between apps, documents and the Web. Search results for restaurants, for instance, could link right to the Open Table app to make reservation. Chrome website tabs and apps that are active will all show up as windows in users’ recent activity feed on mobile devices.
Google is making notifications more accessible, even from a lock screen. It also is analyzing user behavior to push the more relevant messages to the top. The notification also will be able to link directly to apps. Marketers are particularly interested in getting sponsored notifications in front of people, using technology like iBeacons that detect when users are in stores and they can deliver a promotion or other offers.
AndroidWear is Google’s new smartwatch software that offers a stripped-down version of material design. LG, Motorola and Samsung are selling AndroidWear devices. They are supposed to work seamlessly with Android smartphones, with mobile apps just appearing on the watch when it’s in Bluetooth range of the companion smartphone.
Pinterest, Lyft, Eat24
Already developers are showing that the watch could be a powerful vehicle for marketers. Google has showed off how a consumer could be in a new city (it knows), check their watch, and see a notification from Pinterest that tells them what friends have recommended nearby restaurants. Voice commands can summon a car from Lyft or place an order with Eat24.
Searching for what’s on TV
Google’s new Android TV brings its search engine to living rooms and promises to improve one of the biggest problems with digital viewing—too many apps and movie sites to navigate easily. It’s a problem that Apple, Amazon and other set-top box makers are trying to solve with search capabilities that could sort across Hulu, Netflix, iTunes and other apps. Still, Google has the advantage when it comes to any search, and Android TV promises to look for shows or movies and answer questions like, “what movie won an Oscar?” Then deliver a result with a link to buy the movie. LG and Sony are shipping Android TVs this year.
Google’s in-store program marries 3D mapping and marketing. Retailers and brands already are playing with the technology, and test devices are being distributed for retailers to play with. Walgreens, with the help of Aisle411, said they would roll out shopping carts with Project Tango capabilities in the fall. Consumers will be able to navigate stores using the 3D maps and find products with discounts and other offers.