The opening act of Google I/O 2013 has come and gone without any major software overhaul or hardware announcements, but I'm thankful anyways. Many were expecting something of the Mountain View company to sweep them off their feet like past Android updates and Nexus announcements have done. But I'm far from disappointed in the results of the opening keynote primarily because of Google's honing of the details which make Android, Chrome, and Google Play Services mature platforms for their services.

Make no mistake, Google I/O disappointed my gadget-hungry alter ego just as much as it did yours. I long for hardware announcements like air underwater, and even though a "stock Galaxy S 4" made a cameo, it wasn't a Nexus device. Yes, it's an important step towards stock Android making an appearance on varying smartphones, and it's even more important for AOSP, but it didn't fulfill my craving for new hardware like new Nexus devices do.

This time around, Google delivered far less excitement than I was desperately hoping for. We have come to almost expect Google to announce new hardware. Expectations led many to believe Google would announce a refresh to any one of their Nexus devices, an update to Android, a newsflash regarding Google Glass, and a Chrome OS refresh, among other things. Yet none of that happened, and while I'm not as enthralled by the announcements as I was during last year's I/O, I'm much more positive of the growing criticism of Google and what Google is doing about it.

But first things first: Developers Conferences are for developers and at I/O, they took center stage. This was a software-centric keynote and was used to improve the experience for the developer which ultimately leads to the benefit of the end user. Google's Developers Conference was used to outline better ways to develop apps, services, and improve the end-user experience by assisting developers in content creation. By polishing existing services, Google's overall portfolio looks and works better. But most importantly, investors get to reap the benefits of services that can be monetized and solidify long-term viability when developers enjoy using Google's services as a platform for development.

Android announced its new Android Studio IDE which promises to improve the app development process with real-time previews within the IDE. Paired with the improved Google Play Services which has new app optimization tips, revenue graphs, beta-tester controls and metrics for app usage, Google Analytics is hard at work for developers which should prove to be a rewarding bonus when working with Google.

Yet Google's primary sighs of relief came from Google Hangouts where messaging clients spanning Talk and Google+ Messenger were rolled up into one unified service. Even though a lack of SMS integration leaves me desiring more, cross-platform operability helps Google push Hangouts as a competitor to BBM, iMessage, and WhatsApp all at once, which is important when you have the world's most popular mobile OS.

That's when Google announced that there would be no major announcements for the Chrome Browser or Chrome OS. Why, you ask? Because none are required to continue Google's push as the world's most popular web browser. Sure, there was the news of an additional 300 million monthly active users up from 450 million last year, as well as improved rendering capabilities and developer tools for faster downloads, but Chrome's dominance on the desktop and resurgence in mobile means very little is required to continue the upswing. It is clearly working well, and doing a fine job at that.

Such is the mentality of the world's most popular search engine in 2013. We've gotten this far by honing our services when required, so let's make a big deal out of the announcements which iterate true change, instead of announcing incremental hardware and software updates as ground-breaking.

There was an announcement of Google Search which brought voice recognition and natural language understanding to desktops, which is essentially a reflection of what users already do with Google Now app on mobile devices.

There were updates to Google+ which is more like V2.0 for the app as it completely redesigned the interface on all platforms and added many features like automatic hashtagging and photo auto-enhancements.

It was announced that Google Maps is set to receive a UI overhaul and solidify itself as the epitome of Google's ubiquitous influence in unknown territories which require directions.

And that's about it. Sure, only the first day has passed, but I'm not getting my hopes up for an update to Android since those announcements are usually revealed on the opening day. Most of the headlining announcements are left for the keynote. After all, Android Jelly Bean is just barely a year old, and if you count incremental software updates, Jelly Bean is even younger.

But the flag left waving at the end of Google's three and a half hour repertoire was the news that stock prices shot up to an all-time high after a month of steady increases. Google Play Music All Access, the music subscription service with unlimited skips and plays was largely the culprit which Anna recently outlined. But what this means for Google is that they're one-upping the competition and increasing their portfolio of services...again. Who wins? You and Google although iOS users will have to wait a bit to experience all that access. 

For better or worse, Google has matured its services to a point where they believe very little was required to improve our experiences with them. Chrome, Gmail, Maps, and Search are all fine-tuned to a point where they do not require a major overhaul of an OS like past implementations of the Android Open Source Project has required.

Has Google, then, reached a point at which it can focus on the experience of their current services rather than seeking a thrill in new developments?

For the time being, I believe so. Google I/O is first and foremost a showcase of "what's new" for Google's platform of services and solutions. In fact, it's shaping up to be a very rewarding time to be a developer for any of Google's apps and services. We could very well be on the verge of the next Nexus Megalodon, Nexus 7 II, Google Glass, and a Motorola Mobility reboot, but I'm trying not to get a bit too ahead of myself in the process which is about as easy as avoiding a cigarette.

Google has largely built itself as the company we expect to sweep us off our feet with new services, software developments, and recently, hardware. Yet Larry Page's closing of the keynote truly put my mind at ease and I'm left very thankful of what Google has done for technologists and mobile fans alike, and I can't ignore how far we've come thanks to the portfolio of Google's current crop of services.

"Every story I read about Google is about us versus some other company, or something else, and I really don't find that interesting. We should be building things that don't exist. [Being negative] is not how we make progress," said Google CEO Larry Page at the end of the keynote.

What do you think? Let me know down below.

Image via Android Police.

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21 Reactions to this post

"Does Google deserve a "free pass" for I/O 2013 in light of choosing to polish their current portfolio of services instead of announcing new software and hardware?"

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
Thanks for your participation! :)

Brandon Scoggins
Brandon Scoggins No.
Tim Feierabend
Tim Feierabend I wouldn't coin it as a "free pass" but I am glad they are polishing all the services that they have for the future. They already have a good selection of online services I don't see why they should announce and work on more.
Lukasz Dudek
Lukasz Dudek I did not expect any new devices.
Lanh Nguyen
Lanh Nguyen Like Taylor Martin who's now with pocketnow said Google announcing a new version of android last year at IO was an anomaly. Typically the next version always comes in the fall with the release of a new nexus phone. This is a developers conference after all so they weren't doing anything different from what they did prior to last year. More than likely they will refresh everything in the fall.
Dustin T. Robles
Dustin T. Robles Opinions get in the way of a yes or no answer I'm less likely to read a 700 character answer than the 3. like this, If I continued at some point you would stop reading
Dustin T. Robles
Dustin T. Robles Yes
Mario Leuang
Mario Leuang Yes, this allows everyone else to catch up with software. most devices are still running Android 4.0 or 4.1's
R.j. ONeill
R.j. ONeill Between the ho-hum I/O and the fiasco with WP8's youtube app, I'm really starting to feel Google as less of an entity that has the spirit to change the world and more of a yet-another-money-laundering business entity. Not that I'm surprised - Google IS a business after all - but the "don't be evil" classic Google we all cheered for has pretty much gone away and replaced with just yet another corporation. A damn successful one, though, and one that makes great products at fair price points.
Nathan Bryant
Nathan Bryant It hasn't even been that long. Every company does yearly major update. It hadn't been a year yet. Wait until fall. Nobody said they were supposed to do the impossible. A pass for what? What they announced was fine. That's what brings the good experience to using software. We assume with crazy rumors that something was coming and then get let down. You let yourself down. Why even post a question asking do we give them a pass? Should every announcement be something big? No. It should simply be realistic. Google did well.
Javier Delgado
Javier Delgado Big lol to the halt guy hahahaaha
Fernando Gonzalez
Fernando Gonzalez
Devin Martinez
Devin Martinez The tech world has come to a halt after the passing of Steve Jobs
Hendrick Equis M
Hendrick Equis M The damn thing was 3 hours long. But they manage to upgrade android with it a new version so yes
Punit Sedani
Punit Sedani For an open source software with THAT many users, you cant expect perfection - but Google's doing a damn good job!
Tim Moore
Tim Moore Was hoping for a slight bump in the OS is all I was hoping for. I started not to expect Key Lime Pie as I'm assuming they are going to want to start having the big upgrades come out when the new Nexus phones come out. Which WASN'T happening yesterday. Nexus phones are never announced at these things. The only thing I care about are the Nexus phones so I don't mind that they didn't announce any new hardware.
Jesse Huertas
Jesse Huertas Why debut redundant services that'll either go away or merge with another after a year of no one using it. I like the refinement of what they have. Can't wait to use hangout
Chase Ros
Chase Ros This just made my day. Epic!
Sam Rick
Sam Rick Why can't they do both.I'm sure Google can walk and chew gum at the same time.
Keith Windiddy
Keith Windiddy I am glad that the Big G didnt announce new hardware/software. Android devices and carriers have to catchup to android 4.2.2 first. Or let customers who are locked into their Gingerbread/ICS phones expire their 2 year contracts so they pick up JB devices. IMO this was a great strategy for the G.
Fernando Gonzalez
Fernando Gonzalez People bitch that Google products aren't polished... Google polishes products... People bitch that Google polished their products and didn't debut more unpolished products... Lesson: People are just bitches.
Dennis Triantafyllis II
Dennis Triantafyllis II HELL NO

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