SAN FRANCISCO Google Inc. touted new models of smart watches, connected cars and Internet-enabled TVs on Wednesday, all based on the company's Android software, as the giant tech company showed its determination to extend its services into just about every corner of modern life.
The company also gave an early look at the next version of Android, the world's most widely used mobile operating system, while stressing its goal of providing consumers with the same quality of experience on gadgets of all shapes and sizes from PCs to smartphones, tablets, watches and TV sets.
Pichai, who is emerging as one of Google's most powerful leaders under CEO Larry Page and co-founder Sergey Brin, oversees the company's Android and Chrome software divisions. While leading a keynote session that lasted 2 1/2 hours, he also announced a new initiative to build a low-cost Android smartphone for consumers in emerging nations. And he repeatedly stressed a theme that might be summarized as "Android everywhere."
That was the message, at least, for software developers who Google hopes will build a host of new apps and services for its Android platform. The message to consumers, according to Gartner tech analyst Brian Blau, seems to be: "Enjoy Google services wherever you are."
Google "always needs more users and more devices interacting with their services," Blau explained, since the company makes the bulk of its $60 billion in annual revenue by selling ads that appear with some of those services. But Google is locked in an intense battle with other tech giants, including Apple and Microsoft, that want consumers to use their competing products.
Some of the products demonstrated Wednesday, in fact, are similar to initiatives launched by Apple, Samsung and other tech companies in recent months. But Pichai and other Google executives stressed that the Android platform is designed so each new product will be synchronized with other Android devices.
A smart watch that runs Google's Android Wear software, for example, is meant to communicate closely with its owner's Android phone. Google engineering director David Singleton showed a watch that displays text messages and other notifications from a smartphone, while voice commands to the watch produced calendar entries and controlled other apps on the phone.
In a separate demonstration, Google representatives used a mock-up of a car's front seat and dash board to show the Android Auto software that Google has developed for carmakers, which lets a driver use voice controls to get directions, answer text messages and play music that streams from an Android phone.
Google also took the wraps off "Android TV," a long-rumored effort to compete with similar products from Apple and other companies, by streaming Internet movies and games to a television set capable of responding to various remote devices, including Android phones. Google staffers showed how the software can be used to search for movies by title or category, when a user gives a spoken command to a smartphone, with the results appearing on the TV screen.
Executives said Google has agreements with leading manufacturers who will build the Android TV software into new televisions and set-top boxes. Similarly, Google announced partnerships with several major automakers that plan to incorporate Android Auto into new models this year, and with electronics manufacturers LG, Samsung and Motorola, which are making watches using Android Wear.
Google's effort to expand its Android "ecosystem" to a wide range of devices is critical to its future, said Carolina Milanesi of research firm Kantar Worldpanel. In part, she said tech companies like Google may be running out of dramatic new things to do with smartphones and tablets. Perhaps more important, she added, advances in Internet connectivity are driving all the major consumer tech companies to offer more services on a variety of gadgets.
Google underscored the importance of expanding Android by devoting the entire opening session of the conference to that subject, Blau noted. In contrast with I/O conferences in previous years, speakers said little about other projects such as the Google Glass computer headset, or even such core services as Google's Internet search engine.
That doesn't mean Google is abandoning those products, Blau said, but it shows Google believes Android is essential to its business in the future.
(Jeremy C. Owens of the San Jose Mercury News contributed to this report.)
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