SAN FRANCISCO Google wants you to embrace Android everywhere. I'm not just talking about traditional vehicles for Google's mobile software platform such as tablets and smartphones. When I say vehicle, I mean an actual car: Google on Wednesday announced Android Auto at Google I/O, the tech giant's annual conference for software developers.
I mean on your wrist, too. Google's vision is that you'll be ordering pizza on one of the new Android Wear smart watches you can pre-order now from LG and Samsung. Coming later this summer is another Android Wear watch that has techies drooling, the Moto 360 from Motorola.
Oh, and Google also has major designs on expanding its presence in the living room with an integrated platform known as Android TV, which also leans on Google's work with Chrome.
Consumers increasingly are living in a multiscreen world, Sundar Pichai, Google's top executive for Android, told developers as he opened the conference keynote. We want to work to create a seamless experience across all those devices.
Each of these areas looks promising, but the challenges Google faces cannot be understated.
The company's ambitions for the car with Android Auto are no different than the ambitions of archrival Apple, which is pushing its own CarPlay initiative for unifying the way you receive notifications, music, navigation and other services at the wheel. It's premature to know which of these tech goliaths will win (if either). And either way, the outcome is miles down the road.
We know what the deal has been with wearable computers, too. For all the endless chatter, aside from the niche successes achieved by companies delivering some fitness-oriented bracelets, none of the gizmos to date has taken the world by storm, not primitive smart watches and certainly not Google Glass (which Google barely mentioned during I/O).
Google's Android Wear watch demo on stage looked impressive enough. But the big test of whether such devices elevate the status of high-tech timepieces beyond what we've seen so far also remains to be seen. Most nascent watches have been flawed or do little more than complement the smartphone in your pocket, which Google says you check more than 125 times a day on average. I like that you can use your voice to initiate actions on the watch. As a big promotional pitch coming out of I/O, Google said it would give the watches out to conference attendees.
Speaking of the timepieces, a quickie diversion: With Samsung embracing Android Wear with an upcoming Gear Live smart watch, what does that suggest for its own Tizen platform, the one behind the company's recently launched Gear 2 watch?
And then there's TV. Again, Google's Android TV demos looked good, the way you search for and control content on your TV through your Android phone, especially using voice.
But Google has had a mixed track record in television. Early versions of the Google TV interface were justifiably panned and a bust, and despite improvements along the way, Google faces fierce competition here, too. On the other hand, the $35 gadget that is Chromecast was much more widely received, and Google announced new partners and features for this small set-top box at the I/O conference. So stay tuned. The plot lines have just gotten a lot more interesting.