Liz Gannes

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Android I/O Keynote: Google Updates Honeycomb, Previews Ice Cream Sandwich and Plots Android's Home Invasion

Ina Fried and I avoided the enormous swooping green Android models attacking us from the rafters of Moscone West this morning to snag seats for the opening day of Google I/O, featuring an Android-heavy keynote just about to begin.

We’re expecting to hear what’s next for Android and hopefully some clarification about how the as of now distinct Honeycomb tablet and Gingerbread phone operating systems come together.

We’re also bracing ourselves to hear how Google sells us on its unremarkable new music storage service, which is basically the same thing Amazon already offers but without an accompanying content store.

Anyhoo, we’re about five minutes away from getting things started. We’ll have more photos, live coverage and analysis once things get under way.

8:57 am: We’re about three minutes out. If you are dying for other tech news, there’s plenty, including Arik Hesseldahl’s live blog of the privacy hearings going on in D.C.

9:00 am: And we’re off. Vic Gundotra has taken the stage as the fourth Google I/O gets started. Gundotra is reminiscing about I/Os past and showing viewing parties worldwide from Boulder to Hyderabad and Vienna.

9:03 am: “Let’s get this show started,” Gundotra says, giving way to Android team member Hugo Barra. He promises talk on three things: “Momentum, Mobile and More.”

“We’re incredibly thrilled to share with you today we have activated 100 million Android devices worldwide,” Barra said. (36 device makers and 200 carriers involved in that.)

Stat time: There are now more than 300 Android devices in more than 200 countries, Barra said.

Also, Google is now activating more than 400,000 Android devices a day, up from 300,000 a day as of December.

There are now 200,000 apps in the Android market.

9:09 am: Barra said there are have been 4.5 billion Android apps installed with some 1 billion apps being installed every 60 days at this point.

Mike Claren up next: We are rolling out Honeycomb version 3.1 to Verizon Xoom users starting today.

3.1 features: You’ll never run out of memory, never be asked to quit something to run something else. On-screen scrolling widgets are now stretchable horizontally and vertically. Devices can now act as USB hosts so can connect things like cameras, joysticks, game controllers and more.

Android 3.1 is not just for tablets. It is also coming to Google TV this summer, along with Android Market. It will have exactly the same SDK as Honeycomb, and existing devices will get it over the air. Sony, Vizio, Logitech and Samsung will be introducing new 3.1 devices.

Ice Cream Sandwich will be the next Android version, targeting a Q4 launch.

Claren: We want one OS that runs everywhere. We will make what we’ve done with Honeycomb available on phones, on tablets, on everything in between. We’ll insulate developers from differences on devices as much as possible. And it will all be open source.

Next is a demo from Google’s Technology Extraction Team based in Roswell, New Mexico (Claren: “no really!”). In the demo, a tablet camera detects where the user’s head is and can modify perspective and dynamically mess with a live feed of a person’s face.

OK, this is cool: now they’re showing the camera detect which of two people in the shot is talking, and zoom in on them. Claren says this will be available to all developers through Ice Cream Sandwich.

9:19 am: Now we’re onto apps. First: 30-day movie rentals will be available for instant streaming to computers and Android devices, similar to the way Google gives users access to books they buy. This is the YouTube news that came out yesterday.

Users can “pin” movies to a device so they are stored on the device in the background and available for offline viewing.

Thousands of movies are available starting today at Movies app for Android 2.2 and up starting in a couple weeks.

9:25 am: For more on Ice Cream Sandwich, check out this story that Ina Fried just posted on Mobilized.

Next: Music Beta by Google. Peter Kafka covered this last night.

Next: Barra is back: We’re creating an industry team to create guidelines for how quickly devices will get updated. Big applause.

Partners include Verizon, HTC, Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, etc. Devices will get updates for 18 months after release as long as hardware allows.

Barra: “As an open platform, Android was always meant to go well beyond the mobile phone.”

Announcing Android Open Accessory today. First demo involves an exercise bike, and a very game demonstrator named Anand showing an Android phone connected to an exercise bike. When Anand pedals faster, his character in an exercise app moves up. Supports USB now and Bluetooth in the future.

Google is releasing an ADK hardware and software kit today so developers can create accessories.

Another example: a tablet controlling a physical labyrinth game that responds to accelerometer signals.

Now a video of an enormous super labyrinth that has been installed here at Moscone. Wow, they had a lot of fun creating this demo.

No NDAs, no fees to build on this platform. is the URL.

Next: Joe Britt shows Android At Home framework.

Interestingly, these last two sections were led by Joe Britt and Matt Hershenson, the founders of Danger.

Anand’s next demo is the stage lights connected to an Android tablet playing Quake. Britt says LightingScience will be selling Android compatible lights starting this year.

Next: Project Tungsten–living room-style devices. One box with pulsating lights synchronizes music through Android devices across the house that pull music from a library in the cloud. Another (Britt emphasizes this is conceptual) adds a whole album to a user’s music library instantaneously when a CD is scanned by the device.

BTW, we are 50 minutes into this hour-long keynote and Android SVP Andy Rubin still hasn’t made an appearance on stage.

9:51 am: Barra shows Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 due in a month, announces to an overjoyed crowd that the 5,000 I/O attendees are getting one today. Doesn’t have Honeycomb 3.1 yet but will in a couple weeks, he says.

Ina and I are heading to the press Q&A and will have more from there.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus