Live from Google I/O 2013

Today Inside Mobile Apps is reporting live from Google’s sixth annual I/O keynote in San Francisco.

Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android, Chrome, and Apps, opened the keynote by revealing that the Android ecosystem has grown to 900 billion activations in 2013, up from 100 million activations in 2011 and 300 million activation in 2012.

“Android started with a simple goal of bringing open standards to the mobile industry,” Pichai says. “Today it is the most popular operating system in the world.”

Following Pichai, Hugo Barra, Google’s vice president of Android product management added that Google Play has just crossed 48 billion app installs and that revenue per user is two and half times higher than what it was a year ago globally.

Barra then announced the launch of Google’s equivalent to iOS’ Game Center with Google Play game services. The new feature allows developers to add cloud sync to any game, so users can save their data like player progression and game state across any Android device. Additionally, Google Play game services adds leaderboards and achievements support as well as a new multiplayer feature. Also, game services isn’t limited to Android apps, the service can be integrated into an iOS or web app, allowing cross-platform gameplay.

Barra also revealed Android Studio, a new Android development tool for developers that’s based on IntelliJ’s integrated development environment (IDE). The goal of the service is to make development faster and more productive. One particular feature allows developers to preview an app at different screen sizes and device formats within the program. Developers can also design their app for international audiences easily by viewing and editing the app in multiple languages.

Engineering director of Android Chris Yerga unveiled some new improvements Google has made to Google Play. One notable feature, which rolls out today, is a top apps chart that shows apps specifically designed for tablet. Google will also be bringing the same Google Play Store experience on mobile to the web. Yerga later debuted Google Play for Education, a new program launching this fall which is specifically designed to bring Google — Chrome and Android — apps to schools.

Google senior vice president Vic Gundotra revealed during its Google+ portion of the keynote, a new app called Google+ Hangouts. The app is Google’s answer to messaging apps such as Kik and MessageMe, allowing users to form a MMS-like conversation with multiple people. Users can text, send pictures and videos, and can start a group video chat at no charge. The app is available today on Android, iOS and web.

Moving on to Google Maps, the mobile version is receiving a facelift, as announced by Daniel Graf, director of Google Maps at Google. The new version of Maps for Android and iOS brings with it a brand new design and look. When a user initiates a search for a restaurant, for example, they can see a friend’s five-star point rating for the restaurant (which may have a Zagat badge) as well as the ability to swipe to different results or see more reviews. Locations can now provide offers within Google Maps, where users can view an offer to use now or save for later. Some launch partners include Starbucks, Jamba Juice, Office Max and more. Graf then demoed the app’s new incident feature, which provides live coverage of incidents around the world. A user can now tap an incident alert to see the details. If an accident occurs while a user is driving, the app now has a dynamic re-routing feature, so if road conditions worsen, the app will re-route automatically. Graf also revealed a new tablet-optimized version of Google Maps.