Thu, May 12, 2011 - Page 10 News List

Android to pervade homes

AFP, SAN FRANCISCO

Google wants Android to move into people’s homes with the open-source software controlling everything from smart light bulbs to sound systems.

More than 5,000 software savants at Google’s annual developers conference in San Francisco on Tuesday were shown an “Android@Home” software platform for making dumb devices smart and robots manageable.

Among the innovations on display were light bulbs that can be controlled by Android-powered gadgets and a Tungsten sound system that could be synched to Google’s freshly launched Internet “cloud” music storage service.

Android light bulbs are to hit the market by the end of the year and developers were invited to turn them into smartphone-controlled alarm clocks for waking people up in the mornings.

“We are extending the Android platform into the home,” Google senior vice president of mobile Andy Rubin said.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he continued. “The power of Android is that it can be used by a lot of people in a lot of different ways. We are going to see some pretty interesting stuff.”

The technology has the potential to turn Android smartphones or tablets into remote controls for lights, appliances, irrigation systems, thermostats and more, according to Google.

The company also on Tuesday said it is packing the best of its Honeycomb tablet computer software into a new “Ice Cream Sandwich” version of Android for mobile devices.

The California-based Internet titan planned to release Ice Cream Sandwich by the end of the year and promised that it is being designed to run smartphones, tablets and any other Android gadgets.

“Our top priority for Ice Cream Sandwich will be one operating system that runs everywhere,” Android engineering team chief Mike Claron said. “We are taking all the good stuff we added to Honeycomb for tablets and making it available everywhere.”

Google crafted Honeycomb from the ground up to power tablet computers being rushed to market to compete with Apple’s hot-selling iPads.

Android software is free and Google was concerned that tablet makers would resort to using a prior version of the open-source operating system geared for smartphones, but not optimal for tablets.

Meanwhile, Google on Tuesday launched an invitation-only test version of an online music service, which does not sell songs but allows users to store their collection for use on various devices.

“When you add your music to the new service, you can listen to it on the Web on any compatible device,” Google product manager Paul Joyce said in announcing the new service.

Google was getting around having to cut deals with music labels by crafting a service that lets people store digital versions of songs they already own in an online “locker” they can access using gadgets linked to the Internet.

As many as 20,000 songs could be stored at Google Music, Joyce said at the conference in San Francisco.

Google Music began rolling out in the US and was by invitation only. People could request invitations online at music.google.com.

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