I wasn't fortunate enough to sit down and watch I/O this year; let's be honest, I didn't have three hours to kill. However, they did announce a couple of very interesting things.
First and foremost was the Android visual overhaul. Android, to me, has always looked like a cheap knockoff. The visuals seemed hokey, with a color palette that felt... Cheesy. When I'd drag the notification bar down and saw the black background with neon blue accents, it always struck me as something a 13 year-old boy would design (I say that having one time been a 13 year-old boy who designed shit that looked like that). Swiping to other pages on the homescreen seemed half-baked, and that keyboard. Jesus Christ that ugly, ugly keyboard. It wasn't until relatively recently with Google's newer apps and design language that they really started to hit their stride. I think the card-based structure with the flat color aesthetic works really nicely for them, and with all of these slick transitions and animations they're adding with Android L, it feels like Android is finally starting to mature. Google's Material Design reel deserves a watch, and I think they truly nail a very seamless feel throughout the examples they show. It's light, it's fun, it's very Google. Even the colors, bright and vibrant pastels throughout, nod at the playfulness of iOS 7, but with Google's own voice speaking loudly through them.
I'm sure Samsung will take those design guidelines to heart and not completely obliterate the stock OS and apps with their own shitty skin.
I was also pretty impressed with Android Wear. The Google Now-centric approach is really smart, as Now has always been great at giving bite-size pieces of information at a glance. This is the type of thing that is perfect for a small-screened wearable device.
Some of the examples they showed for Wear were actually really cool. The recipe app that syncs with the phone interface as you swipe through was a really slick demo, and tapping a prep time to set an actual timer through your watch is so simple and inspired, it's genius. The idea that wearing a Wear device near your Android device also keeps it unlocked in certain circumstances? Killer.
The best part about Android Wear, though? The Moto 360. Hands-down, the best wearable device shown at I/O. Even though Motorola first showed us a glimpse of this device months ago, it manages to outshine the devices that are actually available for pre-order. It makes me wonder what the fuck Samsung and LG have even been doing, because their respective watches immediately look like dated pieces of garbage in comparison. If the media didn't have me utterly convinced that we'll be seeing Apple's take on a wearable device soon, I would buy a Moto 360 the second it's available.
Overall, it takes a lot for me to get interested in Google (especially Android), but I have to admit when I'm surprised. These things stuck out, and they were especially cool. I can't say the same for some of the other things they announced, and it sounds like not everybody had a great time.
And then there's Cardboard...
Fuck you, Google.