6:30 AM, 27th May 2015, Moscone Center, San Francisco
I arrived early in the morning to find out that queue was already quite long. Most people, including me, had skipped their breakfast to get in first. Luckily I had a grey ribbon card, which meant I was eligible for the shorter queue meant only for press, Google Developer Expert (GDE) and Google Developer Group (GDG) attendees. The longer queue seemed to be growing exponentially around the venue.
Free donuts, bananas and coffee in the queue were definitely helping. The environment was full of technical buzz, and some reporters had started interviewing people in the queue. Press holders were let in at 8:10 and taken to a press room, whereas we still had time to wait.
We were let in to the center and greeted by the Google Security Team in pink tees. Everyone quickly moved to the keynote arena where we saw probably the widest screen ever made, which resembled a VR headset.
The room got quickly filled with participants from all over the world. It was amazing to see so many GoPro selfies being taken. Luckily I had a reserved seat in the GDE/GDG Section, which was right beside the press seats. The front row was reserved for the Googlers.
Soon we saw a giant ping-pong game being played on the wide screen, which was probably the widest display a gamer could ever imagine.
The room was filled with people talking about Big Data and even the hex codes of the color on the screen. In between the games we saw a big Rube Goldberg animation with kick-ass music, which was followed by a whale which the crowd loved.
Almost on time, the presentation got started with a breathtaking video, which took us from the Hubble Deep Space to the planet where Sundar Pichai greeted us to mark the starting of Google I/O.
The Keynote was full of announcements, which included:
- HBO on Android PlayStore
- Android M Developer Preview
- Project Brillo
- Google Now on Tap
- Google Photos
- Offline YouTube
- Offline Maps
- Android Studio 1.3
- Polymer 1.0
- Android Nanodegree
- AdMob and Google Analytics Integration
- Google Play Developer Pages
- Cardboard SDK for iOS and Android
- VR Expeditions for Students and Teachers
- Improved Google Loon
- … and much more
After the keynote, all the attendees were given a Google Cardboard V2, which had quite a few improvements over its predecessor, like support for phablets, and a better button.
It was noon already, but I decided to check out the stalls on the top floor before having lunch. I had my full day planned with sessions using the Official I/O Android app.
Moving out of the arena, there was an Android Wear section on the left and Android Auto section on the right, but what caught my eye was the Google ATAP Arena. Looking like something out of fantasy, this area was full of technologies from a science fiction novel. I watched HELP, which is the first live-action Spotlight story which gave a 3D immersive experience on a mobile phone without a VR. It felt like actually being present at the site of the action. It was such an awesome experience that I recommended almost everyone during and after the I/O to try Google Stories, especially the HELP movie.
I talked to the team there, and Brian Collins, a Google Engineer working on the project, gave me an excellent demo of the SDK which was used to create a Spotlight Story. He also told me that the Spotlight SDK might get released publicly next year.
Next I moved to Project Jacquard, which allows you to replace buttons with a cloth surface. It was amazing to use cloth to operate a light bulb and play/pause a song on an Android phone.
Time was passing by, and with less than 10 minutes remaining until my planned session, I quickly went to the ground floor to have lunch. After lunch I went to the “Promote your mobile apps in minutes” session, which focussed on useful insights on user acquisition, subscriber conversion and subscriber retention using Google Search, AdMob, Play, YouTube, etc.
After the session I took a break and went back to the top floor to continue where I had left. I went to Android Play for families, which is a new section on PlayStore added in this I/O. As the name suggests, it allows us to easily find family-friendly content on PlayStore.
After an intriguing discussion with the Google Engineers working on Android Play for families, I moved next to the Android for Work section, which solves the problems faced by many companies which use Android in their workflow. Android for Work provides granular control over what’s necessary for a business, and I intend to use it in one of my upcoming projects.
I then decided to take on the hands-on Codelabs on how to create a gRPC Service using Node.js. It was surprising how much support I received from Google developers, who were very nice and readily offered any kind of help. I enjoyed the Codelabs, and now the whole set of Codelabs are publicly accessible so you can try them yourself.
The day was almost over and I was so tired of walking around (yes, the center was huge, and the day involved constant walking around to different venues).
I decided to hang out on the middle floor, which literally had swings and play tools waiting for us. With baskets full of candies, drums full of cans, lots of coffee, ice-cream and so on, it was extremely fulfilling resting in the arena. After some time I decided it was time to get back to my motel which was only two blocks away from the venue.
The day was still not over, and the After Hours party was waiting for us at the nearby Yerba Beuna Gardens. I reached the place at around 6:45 and a long queue was waiting for me. Luckily the queue was moving quite quickly, and I was soon in.
The party was full of drinks, food, props, live music and a huge merry-go-round karaoke setup.
After two back-to-back live performances, we had the geekiest DJ party one could ever imagine. Lightsabers and headphones were distributed to everyone. So these headphones had two frequencies which were playing two different tunes, and another tune was being played out loud. So you could choose any of the music and party. The karaoke was also very fun and I sang for over 30 minutes while reading the lyrics, and believe me it was awesome.
The night ended after I was tired from dancing, eating and singing, which is what one expects from a party. Everyone had a great time at the party. The next day had more surprises waiting for me. So just hang in there, because I will be back with lots of interesting buzz that happened on the second day.
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