Google’s annual developer conference is one of the most exclusive must-attend events on the Android calendar. I was lucky enough to go last year and got to meet Sundar Pichai and Larry Page for the effort. Rubbing shoulders with CEOs, engineers, developers and enthusiasts aside, though, what else can you expect from Google I/O 2016?
Google I/O 2016 dates and location
Back on January 12, freshly minted Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweeted the dates and location for Google I/O 2016: May 18-20 at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California. For those unfamiliar with the location, it’s a long way away from any hotels and doesn’t exactly feature great public transport options, sparking widespread speculation that it might have been chosen to provide Google the opportunity to show off its self-driving cars…
Google I/O 2016 app
The official Google I/O 2016 app isn’t in Google Play yet, but each year the old app gets replaced with the new one, so when the new one goes live you can grab it via the button below. The Google I/O app includes livestreams for the keynote and major sessions, schedules, maps, reminders and some fun stuff.
What to expect from Google I/O 2016
This one is a given, because Google announced a while back that annual developer previews of the next major Android release will be presented at each year’s I/O conference. 2016 will be no different, with the Android N developer preview making its first appearance. The preview will receive regular updates for the remainder of the year before being released in its final form at Nexus time in late September or early October.
As far as what Android N will deliver at I/O, it’s a little early to say. There’s still time for the dark theme and advanced power menu options to appear in Marshmallow and features like Force Touch are unlikely to make it to stock Android this quickly.
Google may try to make Doze functional even when the device is in motion, a new messaging app is already in store, multi-window mode should be finished by then and there will be even more user-facing controls and refinements added to Android N. The move to OpenJDK from Java APIs will also get some airplay but I wouldn’t expect any major visual changes.
Google announced at Google I/O 2015 that the first self-driving cars would be released on the streets of Mountain View in 2016. So what better time to demo what they’re capable of than at Google I/O 2016? It may be a little far-fetched to expect Google to arrange transport for thousands of I/O attendees via its tiny autonomous vehicles, but the event will definitely give everyone the chance to take a ride in one.
The Google division in charge of self-driving cars formerly known as Google[x] – and now simply known as X – has just received a new CEO who is, incidentally, a former Ford and Hyundai exec. We can expect to see John Krafcik take the stage with all the latest on Google’s autonomous vehicles and their expected commercial release in 2020.
A massive shake up of Android Wear is long overdue. The mobile platform came out early, moved sluggishly, and has now been surpassed by both Apple’s wearable platform and even Samsung’s Tizen OS. With multiple OEMs grumbling last year that if Google didn’t start pushing the wearable platform more aggressively they would consider developing their own, it’s now crunch time for Android Wear. I can’t tell you what will be announced, but I sure hope something significant is.
I was at the ATAP session last year and witnessed a fully functional Project Ara prototype get assembled on stage in seconds. The camera module was left out until the device had booted up, then it was inserted, runtime detected and working within seconds. Pretty impressive stuff. With the official trial of Project Ara being delayed until 2016 you know there will be some stage time dedicated to it.
Yet again we’re expecting Android Auto to be front and center at I/O 2016. Android Auto is really starting to enter the mainstream and the first sub-$20,000 vehicle was just announced last week: the Hyundai Elantra. 2016 may well be the year that Android Auto stops being something only geeks talk about and starts being something everyone talks about.
Project Aura is Google Glass 2.0. At least it would be if the original Glass had ever gone anywhere other than the Explorer Edition. Aura is supposedly the Consumer Edition. There’s also the enterprise-only Glass that recently showed up in FCC documents which show a slightly revised design with a hinge and larger prism, but what final form Project Aura will take and when it will be available is anyone’s guess.
Following Google’s creation of a new virtual reality division called, creatively enough, Virtual Reality, you can expect VR to take a more central role at I/O this year. It’s unlikely there will be any products to discuss or any keynote announcements but there might be some hints and sneak peeks of what the newly formed team is working on. Keep an eye out for more on 360 video, YouTube quality, Cardboard partnerships and Expeditions.
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I actually don’t think there will be any major Chrome OS announcement at I/O 2016 unless they are related to the arrival of Material Design. Despite the recent rumor that Chrome OS would be folded into Android, Google officially denied the claim. Furthermore, Google’s SVP of Android, Chrome OS and Chromecast, Hiroshi Lockheimer, has assured everyone that there will be a range of new Chromebooks in 2016, but we probably won’t see them until Nexus time.
There’s also sure to be more on Nest, GoogleOn and smart home integration, Project Fi, the Internet of Things generally and project Brillo specifically, and maybe even something about a commercial application for Project Soli’s radar sensor for wearables.
What do you expect to see at Google I/O 2016? Will you be there?
When in doubt of whether you’ll be able to play some obscure media file or not, just download VLC. That has been our philosophy for a long time. VLC is famous for supporting the largest variety of media formats. I have personally never encountered a file which doesn’t work with this player, and now Chrome OS users can finally enjoy it.
This happens to be huge news, as Chrome OS was one of the last major operating systems without official VLC support. VLC is pretty much everywhere right now. There are versions for Android, iOS, Windows, Linux and OS X, as well as more obscure operating systems like Solaris, Haiku, ReactOS and others.
This changed everything for VLC. They were able to keep 95% of the code they already had, and adapting the rest to work with the web-based operating system. The final result is an application that works just as well as all other VLC versions.
It supports the same video and audio formats, as well as subtitle files. You can even play streams. Other supported features include playlists, accelerated playback, an audio equalizer, audio/video synchronization and hardware-accelerated video/audio decoding.
The only trick here is that the team has only tested it with two Chrome OS devices: the Chromebook Pixel and the HP Chromebook 14, which are the only two machines the team had access to. Please do test it on your own devices, though, and try to report any bugs you find.
Ready for some mad media playback? Just click through the button below to download the app from the Chrome Web Store. And don’t forget to hit the comments and let us know how VLC for Chrome OS is treating you!
Better late than never, right? VLC has announced that they’re finally bringing their fantastic media playing application to Google’s Chrome OS, marking off the last check box on its compatibility list.
However, since Google announced the Android Runtime for Chrome that would allow some Android applications to run on Chrome OS, the VLC developers were able to use most of the Android application’s code to run on Chrome OS without a problem. That means this version of VLC is essentially the Android app, built to work on Chrome OS. Pretty nifty workaround, if you ask me.
The first release seems to have all of the features of the normal VLC player, so you won’t be missing anything by using it on Chrome OS instead of a different environment.
Come comment on this article: VLC media player finally comes to Chrome OS thanks to Android Runtime on Chrome
When the Pixel C surprisingly hit stores on Tuesday, initial reviews came out pretty glowing. The hardware looked impressive, after all, and many users praised the sturdy construction and gorgeous 10.2-inch display. They physical keyboard promised that this tablet would be the kind of machine you could really get work done on as well.
However, software issues soon began to make themselves apparent, and public perspective of the Pixel C rapidly shifted. It almost seemed like the software hadn’t been finished, and the development team held a Reddit AMA in order to try to explain the devices shortcomings. The team promised that the software was going to continue to be developed, but they didn’t really offer any answer regarding why the Pixel C was rushed into release with so many problems still present.
Now a new theory has arrived that seems to completely explain the Pixel C’s shortcomings. Specifically, the device wasn’t supposed to be an Android tablet at all, but rather a Chrome tablet.
In a piece of damn fine journalism, Ron Amadeo over at Ars Technica wrote up an exposé detailing development of the Pixel C and organizing a body of evidence that’s very difficult to argue with. It seems the tablet was originally conceived to run as a flagship for a touch-centric version of the Chrome OS codenamed “Project Athena.” The hardware aspect of the device, called Ryu, was left stranded in no-man’s land when Project Athena was cancelled in December 2014. After an arduous attempt to combine Chrome OS and Android to create a dual-boot “Frankenboard,” the development team seems to have given up and flashed Android to push the device out before Christmas.
So perhaps the reason the Pixel C is something of a disappointing Android tablet is because it was never supposed to be an Android tablet. It was supposed to be a flagship Chrome tablet. The result is software living in the wrong hardware, a reanimated corpse doing its damnedest to pass itself off as human. Maybe over the coming months, tweaks to the software will let Android take better advantage of the Pixel C’s hardware capabilities, but in the mean time, we’re left with a device that seems to fall in the tablet version of the uncanny valley.
Any Pixel C owners care to chime in here? Does this explanation match your experience with the device so far? Let us know in the comments.
Current Google CEO Sundar Pichai once said he wanted to see Chrome and Android in every screen available, a goal that is now looking more real than ever. Android is obviously all over the spectrum, but there is a whole other beast Google has been very good at taking over the market with – Chrome OS.
This web-based operating system now exists on laptops, desktop computers and even all-in-one PCs. These are known as Chromebooks, Chromeboxes and Chromebases, but that is not where Google wants to let things end. This light, fast and affordable platform is now making its way into a new form-factor that allows more flexibility.
Today we are focusing on the ASUS Chromebit, a small dongle that can fit into any pocket and convert any HDMI-enabled screen into a full-fledged Chrome OS device. Yes, even your TV, likely the largest screen you own.
But what is the benefit here? That is something we will talk more about later in the review, but let me give you a little teaser here – the ASUS Chromebit is only $84.99. Interested? Keep reading for more details!
Design & build quality
Thinking back on how big computers needed to be just a decade ago, this thing does seem like a marvel. We used to own large boxes that took over a huge part of our desks. Now I find myself getting an ASUS Chromebit in the mail, in a box that could easily fit a glass. This thing fits right in the palm of my hand and can easily outperform my first desktop computer. If you want numbers, it measures in at 123 x 31 x 17 mm. That’s just digits, though, so I am better off telling you it is about the size of one of those wide highlighters we used to have back in school.
The ASUS Chromebit certainly doesn’t look bad, but it’s also nothing to write home about. And that’s a good thing! This is not a product you will be showing off to anyone. It will live behind your screen and stay hidden most of the time, something it does a very good job at. It is discrete, both in size and aesthetics.
What you probably will care about is whether it’s well-built or not. After all, this is a portable device of sorts. The idea is that you can use it at your living room, desk, work, presentations and even hotel room. This jack of all trades can do it all, so it needs to be built to withstand such lifestyle.
Hopefully the guys at ASUS never read this bit, but I actually dropped the Chromebit once. It fell out of my pocket and came out of this accident without a single scratch. Literally, the thing still looks new. This is pure testament of its good build quality, but you don’t need to mess up (like me) and put it to the test to know this. You can feel it right off the bat, the first time it lays on your hand.
Even if built mostly of plastic, the Chromebit definitely feels solid. It has a certain weight that let’s you know it’s definitely not a hollow product, a factor that gives off a level of security I never had with a Chromecast.
Hardware & specs
Let’s go through the externals first, shall we? Everything is pretty straight forward here. Uncover one end of the ASUS Chromebit and you will be presented with a full-sized HDMI connector. The box also includes an extension for those TVs that make it hard to connect this device directly to. On the other end we can find a USB 2.0 port for connecting all your peripherals and storage devices. There’s also a small power jack on the side, which is used to keep your mini PC alive.
Let me touch a bit on that energy system, though. It’s already bad enough that it uses a non-USB power port, but there are a couple other inconveniences I found here. For starters, you can’t plug this into the TV’s USB port and grab energy from there. This is justified, though, as it is a Chrome OS computer and needs more energy.
What really gets to me is that the included Power cable is uncomfortably short. I would say this cable is about 1.25 meters, which makes it a pain to plug in if your TV (or whatever screen you are using) is a tiny bit too far from an outlet.
How about them specs? Let’s go over them real quick.
- Chrome OS
- Rockchip quad-core RK3288C CPU
- ARM Mali-T624 GPU
- 2 GB of RAM
- 16 GB of internal storage
- 100 GB of Gogole Drive storage for 2 years
- WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- Bluetooth 4.0
Performance and OS
Now, the moment of truth. How good is the ASUS Chromebit as a computer? Let’s begin with the OS, which will really be what most of you will care about. That is because, like most other Chrome OS devices, the Chromebit is very good at some things, but very bad at others.
Keep in mind this pretty much runs a glorified version of the Chrome browser. Google has added plenty of offline features and apps to Chrome OS, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it heavily relies on an internet connection. Regardless, most people use computers for the internet alone, which is the whole idea behind the very existence of this operating system.
The only thing to keep in mind is that you will have to sacrifice popular programs that any user would otherwise have at their disposal when working with Windows, Mac OS X or Linux. Say goodbye to Photoshop, Lightroom, Microsoft Office, most games and any other program you would usually run natively from a PC. Everything is web-based (or limited).
That’s not to say the OS is bad, as there are plenty of benefits to be had with it. Keep in mind that because it is a web-based OS, it is also very light. Super light. This thing will boot up faster than any other computer. In fact, the Chromebit was usually on by the time my TV decided to boot up. And because it doesn’t need much resources, it can run very well without crazy specs.
This takes us to the next point – how well does the ASUS Chromebit perform? Those who have used a lower-end Chromebook will find a very similar experience going on here. The computer runs perfectly if you are a basic user. I was streaming Full HD videos with no issue, and I never saw any hiccups with casual usage. Nor did I find any bugs or problems.
My only gripe with the Chromebit is that those 2 GB of RAM are definitely not enough for any multi-tasker out there. I found that even having 4 tabs open started slowing down the machine, something that is simply unacceptable in my line of work.
But if you never really open 4 tabs or more, this may not be an issue at all. I mean, this is an $84 computer, after all. If multi-tasking is the only thing I can complain about, in terms of performance, I say ASUS is doing a really good job.
Should you buy the ASUS Chromebit?
With that, we come back to the question you asked yourself at the beginning of this review – should you buy an ASUS Chromebit? As it goes with most devices, the answer is not as simple as a “yes” or “no”. I will tell you this device is not for everyone, though. Who is it for?
It’s portability and affordable price point make it a great secondary computer for those who move around frequently, are always on-the-go, or need a good presentation machine. It will take care of all your browsing needs, as long as you don’t go nuts with multi-tasking. Now, things may be a bit more complicated if you want to make this your primary computer, but it’s definitely doable depending on your needs.
A casual user who simply wants to browse the web, visit social networks and stream movies/music will be satisfied. I can also see it being a great tool for public places (schools, hotels, libraries, etc.), as it is affordable and very easy to manage for IT departments. If you only need to use the web, don’t multi-task much and won’t need your traditional programs, this little dongle is great.
And the Chromebit definitely has its market, which is something I happen to be fond of… it has its purpose and place in the wide ecosystem of devices we own. I personally wouldn’t say the same about Chromeboxes, which sacrifice portability, screen and keyboard, yet cost about the same as a Chromebook. I just don’t see the point in that. But for $84.99, I can definitely get behind something like the ASUS Chromebit.
If you fit the category described above, it’s certainly a great buy. And at this price you would be hard-pressed to find anything better.
Asus and Google first unveiled the Chromebit, an HDMI dongle with the Chrome OS operating system pre-installed, back in the tail-end of March, and 8 short months later, it’s finally available to order. In the States at least, anyway. While it’s taken a while to come to market, it’s also a little cheaper than originally envisioned, coming in at $85 instead of $99.
It’s great that the Chromebit is a little cheaper than expected with its $85 price tag, but what exactly does it do? Well, it plugs directly into the HDMI slot on your computer monitor or television, and because it has Google’s Chrome OS pre-installed, it behaves just like a Chromebook or Chromebox. All you have to do is add a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to navigate your way around.
The Chromebit gives you access to things like Google Plus photos, the Chrome Web Store, the ability to edit documents and worksheets, watch videos, basically everything you can do on a normal Chrome OS device.
At just $85, the Chromebit naturally doesn’t offer the level of specifications that you see on the Acer Chromebook 15 (reviewed here), but it will get the job done.
- Rockchip ARM processor
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB Internal storage
- 802.11 a/b/g/n/AC WiFi
- Bluetooth 4.0
- USB port
- Dimensions: 123 x 31 x 17mm
- Weight: 75 grams
Included in the box is a 1 foot HDMI cable, power adapter, as well as fittings to attach the Chromebit onto the back of the monitor/television. For the moment, the Chromebit is only available in the US via Amazon, Newegg and Fry’s, in orange and black variants for $85. It is scheduled to become available in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, and the UK at some point.
Come comment on this article: ASUS and Google launch the Chromebit, bringing the Chrome OS to a monitor or tv for $85
It’s pretty understandable if you had forgotten all about the Chromebit, as it was announced by ASUS and Google all the way back in March this year. The little Chrome OS HDMI stick has finally arrived ready for sale, carrying a very modest retail price of just $85.
Ideas like the Chromebit have been done before, there are plenty of Android HDMI device that can turn your TV into an Android computer, for example. However, this stick is packing Google’s Chrome OS from the Chromebook range of laptops. The head of the stick can also swivel around, to neatly fit into some of the more difficultly positioned TV HDMI ports out there.
For hardware, the Chromebit is powered by a quad-core ARM Cortex-A17 based Rockchip 3288 SoC, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. The dongle is compatible with 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 and also comes with a USB port, for extra storage and whatnot. While not quite as powerful as Chromebook hardware, this should be good enough for all the web browsing basics, but I wouldn’t bank on much else. Don’t forget, you will need your own keyboard and mouse setup as well.
The Chromebit will be arriving at a number of US retailers, including Amazon, Fry’s and Newegg. The device is also heading to Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan and the UK at launch, with additional countries likely to follow in the future.
Do you often stare at your Chromebook display (or any other device running Chrome OS) wishing you could gaze upon the many artworks in the world, all from the comfort of the display in front of you? Well, Google has a side project called the Cultural Institute that goes around digitizing works of art from all over the world, from museums, galleries and archives. Once the piece of art has been digitized, the image is then placed online for all to see. Which is all well and good, I hear you say, but what has this to do with the Chrome OS? Well, the Cultural Institute’s Art Project has just released a Chrome OS app called Google Wallpaper Art that will update your wallpaper every day with an image of a piece of art.
Whether it’s Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, perhaps something more contemporary or even street artists from around the world, a new image of a different artwork will find its way to your Chrome OS device every morning. If you aren’t keen on the day’s chosen image, you can simply move on to the next wallpaper in line. To get your hands on the Google Wallpaper app, all you have to do is visit the Chrome Web Store and add it to the Chrome browser. As yet, the app is only compatible with the Chrome OS.
Come comment on this article: Google’s Wallpaper Art app adds culture to your Chromebook
Life in the tech side can get a little bit repetitive. Sometimes we make things a bit more interesting by switching the wallpaper in our computers, but other times we are way too busy to feel that drive. Google wants to take that load off your back and beautify your wallpaper with an extension that will do all the work for you.
This Chromebook extension goes by the name of Google Wallpaper Art. It is a very simple concept, but it’s one that will improve your mood and get you out of the daily digital routine. This extension takes images from the Google Cultural Institute and makes them your wallpaper. Images will be refreshed every single day, so your Chromebook will always feel refreshed and inspiring.
But just what the heck is the Google Cultural Institute? We know many of you have never even heard this department mentioned. The Google Cultural Institute is in charge of digitizing art, images and other content from museum exhibitions. Their goal is to bring high art to the masses and making influential content available to the public, online. By the way, this does include both classic and contemporary art. One day you may be rocking a Monet, while the next you’ll marvel over Banksy’s stencils.
If you happen to find interest in any of these wallpapers, just open the app and find out more information about it, as well as the Google Cultural Institute. This does only work with Chrome OS devices, though. Trying to download it from another operating system will not work.
If you just bought a Chromebook, do not worry, Google has “no plans to phase out Chrome OS”. You will still receive updates and support for them in the future.
Google is very much committed to Chrome OS. Chrome OS is a big part of classrooms, offices and homes with 30,000 new Chromebooks activated in U.S. classrooms everyday.
In fact, every school day, 30,000 new Chromebooks are activated in U.S. classrooms—that’s more than all other education devices combined.
Google also just introduced the very affordable $149 Chromebook and the $85 Asus Chromebit that turns any display into a computer. Something they probably wouldn’t of done if they planned on getting rid of Chrome OS.
However, Google will be adding more Android integration to Chrome OS. Also, they will be bringing new features like a new media player and refreshing the look with Material Design.
We have plans to release even more features for Chrome OS, such as a new media player, a visual refresh based on Material Design, improved performance, and of course, a continued focus on security.
Come comment on this article: Google confirms Chrome OS will stick around, but will bring tighter Android integration