Google Thursday announced improvements to its Chrome browser, improvements to Google Docs, and Chrome and Google Drive for iPhone and iPad, among other things on Day Two of the Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco.
Google Drive Improvements
While today’s announcements paled in comparison to those rolled out in yesterday’s big show, a few of them will certainly be of interest to consumers.
Perhaps the most substantial announcements concerned Google’s Drive cloud-based suite of productivity apps (formerly known as Google Docs).
One cool improvement to the product lets you work on word documents when you are not connected to the internet. The capability is available immediately for word documents, and later on for spreadsheets and presentations.
Google has been working to allow us to sync our Drive documents between different kinds of devices, and to work on documents with our friends or workmates regardless of the type of devices being used.
To that end, the company announced that Drive will now be available for use on the iPhone and the iPad. You can now add people to collaborate with.
Developers can now design their apps to send faxes, and send and receive documents, using Drive.you from within Drive; while collaborating you can see your document updating in real time on whatever tablet or phone you may be using.
Google says that more than 10 million people began using Google Drive “in just over 10 weeks” after its release.
Chrome Browser Improvements
Google says more than 310 million people worldwide now use the Chrome browser.
Google Chrome browser product manager Brian Rakowski was on stage to announce some new capabilities for developers.
He demonstrated how developers will now be able to easily build voice recognition into their Chrome apps. That will allow users to give commands to their apps without touching touchscreens or typing.
The biggest announcment around Chrome, however, is the news that a version of the Chrome browser for the iPhone and the iPad will become available later today.
Chromebooks Get Faster
The Chromebooks that Google introduced last year were not well received, mainly because of their connection and storage limitations, and because of sluggish performance. But the Google laptops have survived, and Google says the the new Chromebooks are three times faster than the original chromebooks.
They will also become easier to purchase. Chromebooks will soon go on sale in selected Best Buys and other retail outlets across the United States. Google also says it’s working with a series of computer makers to release more Chromebooks by the Christmas season.
The Cloud Gets Bigger
Google says that its cloud infrastructure is now so powerful and scalable that developers can run their apps entirely in the cloud to as many users as they want “for a reasonable price.”
This was demonstrated by showing the Google I/O kenote audience an entirely cloud-based gamed called Bulletstorm on a giant screen. The game ran very smoothly in the demo, and the graphics looked great; it looked a lot like a game running on a gaming console.
Very Developer-Oriented Keynote
Unlike yesterday’s announcements, the new features and services rolled out today (other than the Drive and Chrome apps announcements), seemed aimed at the developer crowd.
However, the developers in the crowd were treated to a reprise of the skydiving act from yesterday, in which the divers all wore the Google Glass glasses and filmed their descent from the air. Today’s show was more of a how-to, hosted by Google founder Sergey Brin, and was noticeably less exciting for consumers than yesterday’s spectacle.