Google I/O roundup: S4, games, music, maps, chat and more

The three-hour keynote speech at Google's I/O developer conference last night was a sprawling epic -- here's the most interesting stuff.

The three-hour keynote speech that opened Google's I/O developer conference last night was a sprawling epic, chock-full of new products and announcements from the Big G.

It's hard to get your head around all of the news, so here's a handy list of the most important stuff for the average tech fan, with links to CNET articles where you can find out loads more.

Samsung Galaxy S4 with plain Android coming in June -- but only to the US
The biggest surprise of the night was that Google will sell a version of the Galaxy S4 with no Samsung software, just like a Nexus phone. Here's CNET's first take -- but bear in mind it's US-only, at least at first.

Google Play adds games services
Android finally gets its own version of Game Center, with multiplayer, achievements and leaderboards. Best of all is a cross-platform, multi-device cloud save system, so you can carry on playing where you left off on any device -- Android or not.

Google Play Music goes streaming
A direct competitor to Spotify, Google Play Music All Access (try saying that three times fast) has the same $10 per month offer and comprehensive library. US-only for now, there's no free ad-supported version, which is surprising for the world's biggest ad company.

Google Maps updated
Maps is getting a serious overhaul, with a much cleaner design -- the search box just floats in the top left instead of perching above your map. Results too are displayed over the map, instead of in a column on the left.

Google Wallet lets you attach cash as a Gmail attachment
A new attachment option in Gmail lets you add real money, through Google's Wallet system, which up until now has been all about NFC tap-and-pay stuff. Just click the $ symbol at the bottom of the email and type in the amount, and it'll come off your credit card. Pretty nifty! For the moment it'll only work with US dollars, sent within the US.

Google Hangouts unifies all its chat apps
Google+'s Hangouts video chat feature has been tapped to take over all the chat functions of every Google service, including Gmail chat and Google Talk. Hopefully this merger will make it much simpler.

Billy Idol was there!
The first night saw a huge party, featuring the ageing punk and a gigantic robot arm, controlled by a guy with an electronic glove (pictured above).

Here's a handy three-minute roundup video from our chums at CNET.com:

If you want to relive the whole thing, CNET's live blog is here. What do you think of that avalanche of news? Is Google going in the right direction? What would you like to see? Feel free to muse in the comments below, or over on our keynote Facebook page.

 

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