Google amps up the media experience (live blog)

At Google I/O, the Web titan unveils its long-awaited music service, books and movies on the Android Market, and a new Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
13 min read

Google's annual developer conference, Google I/O, kicks off Tuesday at San Francisco's Moscone Convention Center. CNET/James Martin

Editor's note: We used Cover It Live for this event, so if you missed the live blog, you can still replay it in the embedded component below. Replaying the event will give you all the live updates along with commentary from our readers and CNET reporters. For those of you who just want the updates, we've included them in regular text here. To get the key points from today's announcement, you can check out our summary of what got announced, in our story here.

SAN FRANCISCO--Google's annual developer conference kicks off here Tuesday morning at Moscone Center, and CNET will be covering the news live.

Thousands of developers will gather for two days--Tuesday and Wednesday--at Google I/O to learn more about Google's technologies including Android, Google Chrome, Google APIs, Google Web Toolkit and App Engine, and more.

Google is always tight-lipped before the conference about the keynote speakers and news that it will announce. And this year is no exception. Android Atlas blogger Scott Webster posted his predictions for possible news at Google I/O a couple of weeks ago, and CNET's Greg Sandoval reported Monday that Google will unveil a test version of its long-awaited digital music service.

CNET is sending a team of reporters and reviewers to Google I/O to cover the news. So join us Tuesday morning for the opening keynote address that starts at 9 a.m. Pacific as we use the Cover It Live tool to live-blog the event.

Transcript of live blog starts here:

9 a.m. PT (Maggie Reardon): OMG. Google I/O has started. VP of Engineering Vic Gundotra is now taking the stage.

9:01 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): This is the 4th year of Google I/O. And Gundotra is taking a trip down memory lane.

9:01 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Client, connectivity, and the cloud were the first things that Google addressed at the first Google I/O.

9:01 a.m. (Rafe Needleman): Google Music beta page is live http://music.google.com/music

9:01 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): In 2009 Google rallied the browser community under Chrome and HTML 5.

9:02 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): And who could forget last year: He shows a pic of the Android guy eating an Apple.

9:03 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): It really can't be overstated how Chrome revolutionized browser development, as well as HTML5 support.

9:03 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Google has over 122 viewing parties set up around the world in places like Cairo. And now Gundotra shows some pics of those parties.

9:03 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): There are more than 10,000 people at the viewing parties.

Google I/O viewing parties around the world James Martin/CNET

9:04 a.m. (Stephen Shankland): Now we have Hugo Barra, director of Android product management, on the stage, talking "momentum, mobile, and more."

9:04 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Barra holds up the T-Mobile G1 that he says holds a special place in Google's heart.

9:05 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Now we go to the videotape.

9:05 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): The little Android guy is bouncing around and rocketing through space as we see the numbers of Android activations soar to 100 million.

9:03 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): 100 million activations in 2.5 years.

Hugo Barra, director of Android product management, at the Google I/O keynote address today James Martin/CNET

9:06 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Barra: Happy to share that we have activated over 100 million Android devices. The most interesting part of the stat. We did it together.

9:06 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): There are more than 310 devices in 112 countries. Talk about choice.

9:06 a.m. (Stephen Shankland): Barra: "36 OEMS, 215 carriers, and 450,000 Android developers all over the world. 310 Android devices in 112 countries."

9:07 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Last year Google said it added 100,000 Android devices every day. Now they are activating over 400,000 devices every single day.

9:07 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Barra is announcing that there are more than 200,000 apps available in Android Market.

9:07 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Of course what matters is that the quality of these apps is great. Hmm, what do you all think?

9:08 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): "World's most engaging, useful applications are running on Android."

9:08 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): 1 billion downloads in past 60 days.

9:08 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Took Android ecosystem to see the first billion app installs, then took only 5 months to get to the second billion. And now seeing 1 billion app installs every 60 days.

9:08 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): 4.5 billion installs of Android apps in total.

9:09 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Today is all about Android, and Google will show off two new services they are announcing today.

9:10 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Now we've got a couple of Google guys up to do some demonstrations.

9:10 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): OK, now they are announcing an upgrade to Honeycomb. Verizon customers will get it first.

9:10 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): New in Honeycomb 3.1: New task switcher.

9:11 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): He's going through some of the existing features on Honeycomb.

9:12 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): Widgets can now stretch horizontally or vertically, a nifty feature from custom ROMs that will work in 3.1.

9:12 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Google has upgraded the USB host so that you can plug in different devices.

Google announces new features for Honeycomb 3.1. James Martin/CNET

9:12 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): So this means that you can plug in a game controller to your tablet and play a game. Pretty cool.

9:12 a.m. (Stephen Shankland): That means you can plug "keyboards, mice, trackpads, joysticks, game controllers, and more" into a Honeycomb tablet.

9:12 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): Android 3.1 coming to Google TV this summer.

9:13 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): Coming in the summer, Android Marketplace for Google TV.

9:13 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Google TV will also get the Android Market. So developers can use the same SDK for tablets and TV.

9:13 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): I think I'd rather see some good content on Google TV. Am I the only one?

Google TV will also get the Android Market, so developers can use the same SDK for tablets and TV. James Martin/CNET

9:14 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Ice Cream Sandwich has been announced!

Google announces Ice Cream Sandwich. James Martin/CNET

9:15 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Ice Cream Sandwich will allow Google partners to put the OS on all kinds of form factors: phones that flip, tablets, smartphones. One OS that runs everywhere. That's the goal.

9:16 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Google is investing in the app framework and they want to insulate developers from all the different screen sizes and devices. Looks like they are trying to address fragmentation issues.

9:16 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): And it's all going to be open-source. And there is a loud applause from the audience.

9:17 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Showing off a 3D demonstration.

A 3D demonstration at Google I/O. James Martin/CNET

9:17 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): And now showing how the camera of the device can distort images. Kind of fun.

9:18 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): New APIs will help scale apps, which means that alongside 3.1/Ice Cream Sandwich Google is attempting to address fragmentation. I'd be surprised if it worked on older devices...

9:18 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): During video chats the camera is smart and will zoom in on whoever is talking. Kind of cool. And the crowd applauds loudly.

9:18 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): This will all be available in developer APIs so that all the developers can do cool stuff with it. Can't wait!

9:19 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Shifting topics to talk about media.

9:19 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): We're talking books on the Android Market.

9:20 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): Google Books was a test run for movies on Android Market.

9:20 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): Rentals starting at $1.99.

9:20 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Bringing the same experience of being able to read books on any device from the market to movies. So now movies can be rented for $1.99 and then they can be viewed on any Android device connected to that account.

Google is adding movie rentals to Android Market. James Martin/CNET

9:20 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): Interface for renting movies appears nearly identical to app purchases.

9:21 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): We are now going through a little demo of how it works. Looking at the movies home page. Movies can be rented for 30 days.

9:22 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): Personal videos will have a tab in the new Movies app.

9:23 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): The playback is in HD and it can be paused. You can move forward and back.

9:23 a.m. (Rafe Needleman): A micro-rant: 24-hour viewing window for video rentals is too short for airplane travelers. What if I want to watch half a movie on the way out, and half on the way back?

9:23 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): Android Market will now have Books and Movies tabs.

Android Market will now have Books and Movies tabs. James Martin/CNET

9:24 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Can watch it on tablet or on the phone. Start on one device and end on another.

9:25 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Made it easy to rent anywhere and watch anywhere. And they have thousands of movies available. This is part of Honeycomb 3.1 and it goes out to Verizon Xoom users today.

9:25 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): Movies going to 2.2 in the next few weeks.

9:25 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Now I think they are going to talk about the big music news.

9:26 a.m. (Erica Ogg): Some background on Google Music http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-20061280-261.html

9:26 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Paul Joice of Google is on stage to talk about Music Beta. No wires. No painful syncing.

Google Music will be free while in beta. James Martin/CNET

9:26 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Perhaps you heard a rumor about this. And now he is showing us how it works.

9:27 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): All your playlists and ratings can be added to the cloud simply by clicking whichever library you want.

9:27 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Double-click on a song and it plays right away. All existing playlists are there and you can create new ones.

9:27 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): Google Music appears to be separate from Movies/Apps marketplace, although same UI.

Google Music user interface James Martin/CNET

9:27 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Then the playlist is available for all devices smartphones, computers, tablets.

Google Music has an "instant mix" feature. James Martin/CNET

9:28 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Google can also make you an instant mix from your music collection. "Machine learning" then selects the songs that go along with the one you've chosen. I guess the days of making mix tapes is long gone. Man, those were the days. And I feel old.

9:28 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): Lukewarm crowd applause to the "genius mix" comment. Probably because he's using Earth Wind and Fire...

9:29 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): The interface is pretty slick. And the promise of the cloud-based music service is that you will never have to use a cord again to load music. Death to the wires!

9:30 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): But what if you don't have a data connection? You can still do it. Amazing!

9:30 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): There is offline caching. And it's the same app download that the movie service uses.

9:31 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): On the older OS the UI is a little more list-driven. Not as sexy, but useful.

Google Music recognizes the form factor of your device. James Martin/CNET

9:31 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): Music app recognizes when you're on a narrow form factor phone or wider tablet, adjusts navigation layout appropriately.

9:32 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): The service is launching in beta and is invitation-only. Folks can get it in U.S.

9:32 a.m. (Stephen Shankland): Boos to hear Google Music is invitation-only for now.

9:32 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Can load 20,000 songs and while in beta it will be free. And an Oprah moment: We all get invited to be beta users!

9:32 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Any Android 2.2 device and higher will work.

9:33 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): You can download Music app now, will work with locally stored music while you're waiting for your invitation.

9:33 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): http://music.google.com/about

9:33 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Announcing founding team of industry leaders that Google will work with for how quickly devices get updated for new Android platforms.

9:34 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Founding partners: VZ, HTC, Sprint, AT&T, and some others I missed. But the point is that they want to speed up the time to market for the new Android updates.

9:35 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): New devices will support latest version of Android and receive updates for 18 months, guaranteed.

9:35 a.m. (Erica Ogg): Also Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Sprint, Vodafone

9:36 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Two more Googlers come on stage to do some more demos.

9:36 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): No word yet on carrier customizations (i.e., Sense, etc.)

9:36 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Platform support for new accessories and it will work with any Android device going forward.

9:37 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Demonstrator is about to show us a workout demo. He gets on the stationary bike and plugs his phone into the bike.

9:37 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): Good grief. The last thing I expected to see this morning was breakaway pants.

9:37 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): And the bike recognizes the accessory. If it didn't have a compatible app it will automatically send the user to the Market to download the app.

9:38 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): The bike knows it's selected to the phone and API will have the bike control the game he plays. Seriously, a game while working out?!?!? That is pretty cool.

9:38 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): It might even get me to work out at the gym!

In a demonstration at Google I/O, the company showed how someone could hop on a stationary bike and plug his phone into the bike. And the bike recognizes the accessory. The API will have the bike control the game he plays. James Martin/CNET

9:38 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): The Android accessory open API is available today for Gingerbread and Honeycomb.

9:38 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): Open accessory API supports 2.3.4 and 3.1.

9:39 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): Arduino-based ADK getting applause.

9:39 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): A development kit for the open development kit. Lots of developer types cheering.

Getting a look at Google's ADK board James Martin/CNET

9:39 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Now looking at an ADK board more closely.

9:41 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Using a tablet they are controlling a labyrinth game.

9:41 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): And now they are showing a video of a life-size labyrinth game.

9:41 a.m. (Erica Ogg): I want a life-size labyrinth game.

9:41 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): There is a super Labyrinth setup outside for people to play with.

Google uses a tablet to control a labyrinth game. James Martin/CNET

9:42 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): Building hardware accessories will be completely open. No approval process, no restrictions.

9:42 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): You can build a hardware accessory without needing any approval, so get started, Barra says.

9:43 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Now Joe Britt is on stage to talk about broadening the idea of accessory.

9:43 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): Google has designed an open wireless protocol to control devices that otherwise don't support Wi-Fi.

9:43 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): He is talking about Android at home to connect appliances in the home. For devices that can't connect via Wi-Fi, Google has developed its own API to connect to them.

Android at Home can be used to connect appliances. James Martin/CNET

9:44 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): So this means you can connect dishwashers, refrigerators, and all kinds of other electrical devices.

9:44 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): There is an app for digital light switches so that you can turn the lights on and off from a tablet.

There's an app to control digital light switches. James Martin/CNET

9:45 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Imagine new ways to deliver notifications through home appliances. You could use the app to build a real-world Farmville app. Imagine the possibilities.

9:46 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Demonstrator is playing a game and the lights flicker.

9:47 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Now showing off Project Tungsten, which runs the Android OS and has audio out and connects to speakers or home stereo system.

Project Tungsten runs the Android OS, and has audio out and connects to speakers or a home stereo system. James Martin/CNET

9:48 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Now they are tying together the cloud music service with the speakers and home audio system. Tablet can direct music to one or more Tungsten devices.

9:48 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Music is pulled from the cloud directly to the speakers. I guess you don't need that expensive wireless audio system anymore.

9:49 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): Showing off a different form factor for Tungsten, but same guts.

9:49 a.m. (Rafe Needleman): This is not good news for Sonos.

9:49 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Now they are showing off some CDs--Run DMC--using near-field communications to load music from a CD to the cloud, then start playing it.

Android At Home James Martin/CNET

9:50 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): Demoing tech that allows you to touch a CD to the Tungsten, instantly adding all the tracks on the CD. Touch the CD to Tungsten again, and the music from that CD starts playing.

9:50 a.m. (Rafe Needleman): Wait, that was just a demo of NFC. Where's the rest?

9:50 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): I don't know about the rest of you. But my head is spinning a little. Lots of cool and different stuff. I'll be interested to see what cool stuff developers come up with.

9:51 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Now we're doing a recap of what we talked about today. 100 million activations/4.5 billion installs, Honeycomb 3.1, Ice Cream Sandwich, movie rentals and music beta, Android Open Accessory, and, finally, Android@Home.

9:52 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): Getting the crowd wired, building toward another announcement.

9:52 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Looking at the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Limited Edition.

9:52 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Will launch in about a month or so. Not available to anyone. With one exception...

9:52 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): Another Oprah moment: all 5,000 of us are getting one today.

9:53a.m. (Maggie Reardon): The crowd goes nuts! There is no need to rush. It comes with Honeycomb 3.0 and will come out with 3.1 in a few weeks.

Showing off the new Samsung Galaxy Tab James Martin/CNET

9:54 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): At 10:45 a.m. tomorrow some Android Market news.

9:54 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): And now a big thanks to the developers.

9:54 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): No word on price.

9:56 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): "Do Cylons run Android?" suddenly became a not-insane question to ask.

9:59 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): I was hoping for more data on how the tablets that are out are doing.

10:01 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): Keynote and live blog starting at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

10:01 a.m. (Seth Rosenblatt): We're anticipating Chrome news, but that's all we've got so far.

10:02 a.m. (Maggie Reardon): OK, the CNET team needs to move on to the press conference. So we're going to close out the live blog. Thanks to everyone who joined us for the live blog. Hope you had as much fun as I did!

Editor's note: The initial, bare-bones version of this story was posted May 9 at 3:48 p.m. PT.