Michael Kitces #FinTech

Takeaway from Google conference: Get ready for video

A vision of how good virtual conferences — and possibly even prospect and client meetings — might look in the future

May 17, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

By Davis Janowski

I honestly had little time to spend on this year's annual Google i/o developer conference but I did sit in on several online keynotes and demonstrations over the course of the three-day event this week.

While most advisers are going to see little immediate direct benefit from the conference, it's worth a few minutes to check out some of the content produced there.

Make sure you have decent bandwidth and a device of recent enough vintage to easily support streaming video. If that is the case, you can expect a sense of where the Internet is heading in terms of virtual conferences. Not only that, but to me, it's a sign of the momentum behind video conferencing.

By that last I simply mean that during the events I could click over to Google's main event page during any part of the day and reliably see an engrossing demonstration on stage by some developer or other.

More than that though it just all worked — mostly, that is — there were stories or blogs about failed live demonstrations here or there. But what I'm getting at really is how simple it all was for you or I to just click over there and see engaging content, seemingly distributed effortlessly.


This year's conference put a lot of emphasis on mobile and Google's Android operating system. There was a good bit of content around improvements to Google's Chrome browser as well as Google's Search functions but nothing Earth shattering.

The most tangible things many advisers may encounter are "Quick Action" buttons in their Gmail inboxes. The folks at Google say these will be rolled out to users in coming weeks and the two examples they refer to are based on rich Internet technologies.

For example, Gmail will be able to recognize some types of commonly sent e-mail like RSVPs and travel itineraries and empower them magically with interactive features allowing you to see flight particulars at the top of the message or present you seamlessly with an “attend” choice.

There will be others like being able to immediately open a Google document that's been shared with you or responding to a calendar invitation.

A small but slowly increasing number of adviser contacts tell me they are starting to use Google Apps for their office productivity needs.

One new thing that came out during the conference is that Apps customers will now have 30 GB of unified storage to use between Google Drive, Gmail and their Google+ photos.

And speaking of photos, there were plenty of new things rolled out related to them but you can check out the link for more on that.

There was also a lot of media attention around a new integration between Google Wallet and Gmail that is supposed to allow users to quickly and securely send money within Gmail.

Google made several dozen changes or additions to its G+ social media service Google+. A lot of these improvements are visual. I liken the way that your connections' profiles look to thumbnail-emblazoned digital index cards and actually lots of the views are card-like.

In particular, I personally liked the new way Circles and individual connections are displayed, which I think makes it much easier to get a good overall view of your contacts and G+ network.

Less enthusiastic has been the reception of the new look given to Community pages and main landing pages by default. These are now displayed in a three-column format and there has already been a lot of traffic on Google Group and Community help pages on how to revert to the previous single-column format.

Missing were the crazy scenes like the Google Glass introduction last year replete with skydivers. The biggest hardware news appears to have been a Google version of the Samsung Galaxy S4.

Google formally talked about its new streaming music subscription service called "All Access" ($9.99 per month).

Another area that received a lot of media attention (and my own) were some innovations in Google Maps, a lot of it leveraging Google Now technology for delivering more personal location-based data and also pulling in 3D Google Earth imagery.

And just for fun: My former editor-in-chief at PC Magazine is still a guest contributor to the publication and attended the event this year.

Check out his post (mostly photos) from this year's After Hours party, which combined demonstrations on emerging technologies with food, entertainment and a particular emphasis on robotics.


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