This year's edition of Google I/O, the annual software developers' conference of Google, did not start with a skydiving stunt of its co-founder Sergey Brin but kicked off with a slew of announcements. The search engine giant announced that it would release its own version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 among other enhancements for its online maps, music, search, and Google+.
Here's a look at the highlights of Wednesday's announcements during the Google I/O 2013 in Moscone Center (West), San Francisco, California:
Galaxy S4 'Google Edition'
Google will release its own variant of Samsung's Galaxy S4 that will run on a skinless version of the Android Jelly Bean. It will have an unlocked bootloader and users will get updates as they are rolled out.
This version of the Galaxy S4 will feature a storage space of 16GB and 4G LTE capability. It will hit the market come June 26 with a tag price of $649 and will be available via the Google Play Store. Users in the United States can enjoy the pure Android experience on T-Mobile and AT&T networks.
The GS4 is equipped with a very quick Snapdragon 600 processor, a 13-megapixel primary camera, and interesting software features including gestures and eye tracking.
Pandora Rival: Music All Access Streaming Service
Another significant announcement during this year's Google I/O is the release of an expanded streaming music service called "Music All Access." Think of it as Pandora and Spotify features combined and integrated to Google Music Play.
Consumers can enjoy the service for $9.99 per month that will allow users to stream music from any device. Just like Pandora, users can create custom stations based on the songs they like. Personal music collections will also be made available with users able to search for their favorite artists, songs and albums.
Music All Access is now available in the U.S. and comes with a month-long free trial.
Enhanced Google Maps and Search
Google also introduced a revamped version of the Google Maps. The overhauled version of the Google Maps features a fresh look and a host of features such as local highlights and custom-made suggestions. Users can expect more images when using the Maps, which now also come with complete virtual tours of popular destinations utilizing photos submitted by users.
The search engine company also revealed that its social network, Google+, will have 41 additional features. These new features draw upon the algorithm, innovations, and computing power of Google.
Google+ has a new photo manager that can choose the best shots from a bunch of photos. The machines running the social network can discard the blurry images and may also consider picking pictures with the most important people to the user. There is also a new tool that will allow photo stitching to make a panoramic image.
Google+ users will also be able to store more images as Google now gives each user a 15GB storage space.
The Google social network also has a redesigned content stream. It will also add hashtags automatically to identify the important topics being discussed.
The 2013 Google I/O kicked off at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Wednesday, and was attended by more than 6,000 developers.