Google wants to be everywhere — in your home, your car, even on your wrist.
That vision became increasingly clear at the search giant’s annual conference for software developers Wednesday. As it battles Apple for dominance in mobile devices, Google unveiled plans to expand its Android operating system for new categories such as wearable computers and automobiles.
The announcements came on the heels of the company’s recent acquisition of Nest Labs, a thermostat maker, for $3.2 billion, which gave Google a speedy entry into Internet-connected home appliances.
Google said the latest version of Android for smartphones and tablets, called Android L, would include a new design. Similar to Apple and Microsoft, Google adopted a “flat” design with more vibrant colors and added effects such as shadows and animations. For example, when a user taps the screen, a small water ripple appears on the tapped area.
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Android L also includes new features such as smarter authentication and anti-theft software. If a user is wearing a smartwatch paired with the device, he can unlock the phone without entering a passcode — when the watch is removed, the phone will require a passcode again. Google also said Android L, which will be available in the fall, would include a “kill switch” for rendering a device unusable if it were stolen.
Google’s annual software developers conference, called Google I/O, has become an important venue for the company to woo app makers to build software for its Android software system, which powers more than 1 billion devices worldwide.
Rallying the troops of app developers is increasingly vital for Google as competition heats up with Apple and Samsung Electronics, which are also eager to make a shift into the next generation of computing.
Apple recently announced plans to expand its mobile software system, iOS, for home appliances, health monitoring devices and cars. Samsung, the No. 1 cellphone maker, has released several smartwatches over the past year, and it recently held an event that focused on health monitoring technology.
Google also shared its ambition to push Android deeper into areas beyond mobile devices, revealing details on Android Wear, a special version of Android tailored for wearable computers such as smartwatches, which it introduced earlier this year.
Google said Android Wear was customized to show immediately useful information, such as message notifications, the status of a package shipment or the traffic status for a commute. The smartwatch system is controlled by speaking or by swiping the touch screen.
When a user is traveling, the watch system will continue to bring up relevant contextual information based on his location, such as the local bus schedule or the weather, according to David Singleton, an engineering director at Google.
Google said two smartwatches including Android Wear — Samsung’s Gear Live and LG’s G watch — became available Wednesday in its online retail store, Play.
Google announced a version of Android customized for cars, called Android Auto. Google said it streamlined the design of the system to keep people’s eyes off the screen and more on the road. It emphasizes access to maps, phone contacts and playlists, allowing users to easily access those features with the tap of a button or voice control. The car system will pair with a user’s smartphone.
For television, Google announced Android TV. Users can speak voice commands into a smartwatch to search for programs to view and Google will find the programs if they are available for purchase in its online Play store.
Searching “Breaking Bad,” for example, will bring up the show and such information as its actors and the movies or shows they starred in. Users can also stream music and games from their tablets and smartphones to Android TV. Google said it had partnered with Sony, Sharp and Asus and expected products, including Android TV, to arrive in fall.
Television has been a tough market for Google. Android TV is its fourth attempt to push Android into television after several approaches failed. One of its earlier attempts included Google TV, which came with a clunky remote and many limits on what people could watch.