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Google held its annual developer conference, Google I/O, last week and over twenty Hack Reactor students and alumni were in attendance. The annual event is an exciting two days when developers can meet and collaborate, and Google rolls out a slew of new products.
“It was a pretty amazing experience to be surrounded by thousands of other people just as passionate about software development and new technology as you are,” says Amira Anuar, a current Hack Reactor student. “One of the more inspiring experiences was sitting in a talk about Polymer or Google Cloud Services and looking to the left and right of me to see screens open and code being written (in the next session I ended up working on my own code as well).”
The event has become known as a time for Google to publicly release its most exciting new software and hardware, and this year was no exception.
The headliner was the new Android Wear operating system. Google is making a foray into wearable electronics, and every conference attendee was invited to take home a free smart watch.
“We got to choose between the Samsung Gear Live and the LG G,” says soon-to-graduate Hack Reactor student Emily Dong. “I went for the Samsung since it has a heart rate monitor built in.”
“You can easily talk to it,” Anuar adds. “‘Text Amira hello’ and it sends Amira a text.”
Attendees will also get a round-faced Motorola smart watch when it is released.
Many Hack Reactor attendees were there with the help of scholarships given to Girl Develop It, an organization that teaches coding to women, co-run by Hack Reactor grad Bianca Gandolfo. Google reached out to Girl Develop It to offer discount codes, which Girl Develop It was permitted to distribute as they saw fit.
Many Hack Reactor attendees came away excited to work on Polymer, a development tool created by Google with an eye toward material design.
“The Polymer concept is super cool and I think material design is very well thought out,” says Dong.
The most surprising reveal Google had to offer has to be Google Cardboard, Google’s low-fi response to the Oculus Rift (virtual reality goggles, recently purchased by Facebook).
“It’s literally some cardboard with some lenses,” Gandolfo describes. "You fold it up with your Android phone inside, and it turns into an Oculus Rift.” Just as with the Oculus Rift, the device registers head movements so that one may look around a virtual environment in games and certain apps, namely Google Earth.
Google Cardboard includes a magnet on one side, which provides a way to “click”: one simply pulls the magnet off of a piece of metal, and the phone wirelessly registers the click.
Google I/O provided an invigorating array of concepts, platforms and tools for developers. It's likely only a matter of time before Hack Reactor students and alumni use these offerings to build new apps, software and tools of their own.