Like many of my friends, I’ve been following Google I/O 2011 curiously earlier this week.
Much has been said about the event, but I cannot resist to add my thoughts about a few of the announcements and Google I/O in general.
Blocking non-US developers is evil (and certainly not open)
When the keynote address started, I was surprised to find Google blocking the live video stream for anybody outside the US. The fasted VPN tunnel provider in the world solved it for me, but I really wonder why Google thought that Google I/O would only be valuable for the Northern American Android developers.
Me being in Germany, for Google I must live in a very fragmented part of the world.
Google Music – not interested
I might very well have been one of the first to request an invite for Google’s new cloud music service, as I accidentally stumbled over the invite link even prior to the announcement, but haven’t heard back from Google since. Not a single word.
And today, I’m not even interested anymore.
Pretty much anybody seems to agree, that Google Music will be just another big fail. Unfortunately, we’ve seen many of those coming out of Mountain View lately.
It’s not only me who doesn’t get how forcing users to first download music from a third party and then asking them to upload everything back to Google should have any advantage over what cloud storage providers like Dropbox have been giving us for years.
So, I’ll sit and wait for Apple. Very likely, they will get it right, again.
The Android Anti-Fragmentation Alliance
It’s not its real name. I made this one up.
Anyway, probably the single most important announcement for me – apart from remote controllable light-bulbs – was the foundation of the Android Anti-Fragmentation Alliance.
Verizon, HTC, Samsung, Sprint, Sony Ericsson, LG, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Motorola, and AT&T joined a special task force promising customers to bring updates to devices quickly and efficiently at least for the first 18 months after the initial release.
I have no details as to how this alliance is formally structured. It’s also difficult to imagine what sort of pressure (and how) Google could potentially put on any of its members, in case of not fulfilling the promise. Given the open nature of the Android ecosystem it’s hard to really see this working.
However, at least this broadly acknowledges the biggest problem in Android: fragmentation. And it offers a neat solution. Whether it’ll work out, remains to be seen.
My Motorola Xoom is still eagerly awaiting Honeycomb 3.1…
The Google Places API, now open for everybody
I’m a developer at heart.
Opening up the Google Places API for the mainstream developer was the single most valuable development related announcement for me. This means, web and mobile developers are now able to not only leverage Facebook Places but also seamlessly integrate Google Places into their experiences.
Facebook Places has been available a bit longer via the Open Graph API and I’ve been using it to offer users faster input in many iOS applications.
Also I very much appreciate that Google not only opened the basic Places API, but also took care for the auto completion part. The latter one facilitates the integration of nice text fields with speedy suggestions with almost no code.
I got so excited, I wrote an iOS prototype the same day.
Planning to publish the tutorial and sample code here later today.
Apart from that, too much “in a few weeks” and pseudo exciting stuff for me
Besides that, I’m pretty much disappointed.
When I wanted to learn about “Android Market for Developers” this morning, I found the Google Mobile Blog being down. Or at least the link on google.com/io no longer working:
I like the spirit of “beta” but not if all beta means simply is: down.
While one might not like Apple’s secretiveness, usually when Apple announces stuff during these sorts of events, it becomes immediately available. After all, that’s what a developer event is for: Get us excited, get the stuff into our hands! Or?
For me, this year’s Google I/O had way too much announcements that got me excited the first place, only to find out that it’ll not be available for the next few weeks. Or US only.
Honeycomb 3.1 being a pretty good example. I get tired of asking my Xoom to check for updates, just to get disappointed day after day. The lack of a clearly communicated roll-out plan does not help either. And no word about Android 3.x becoming Open Source.
Also there were too many things I found pseudo exciting.
While my respected friend Robert Scoble seems to like them, Android remote controlled light bulbs that might be available at the end of the year, didn’t really click with me.
Home Automation has been a pretty hot topic here in Germany for quite a while. We already struggle from fragmentation in that area, too. Adding another standard to Z-wave, Zigbee and the likes might not make things better.
Taking into account how Google TV (last year’s big Google I/O announcement) totally flopped, I don’t have great hopes for Android Home.
Overall, I disliked more parts of the keynote than I liked.
Hugo Barra carried it out a bit too wanna-be-cool for my taste.
At the point where he’d mentioned “and all without a single cable” the fifth time, the obvious attempt to shoot at Apple really got on my nerves. After all, Google doesn’t even have an online music store. Dismissing the amazing success of the iTunes ecosystem doesn’t do any good.
It gets worse, when you come up with something as terrible and not thought through as Google Music.
I’d love to see Google focus more on existing products
Closing this article off, I’d like to make clear that I’m not a Google hater. Not at all.
I do love Apple. Not for their business ethics. Not for many things. But ultimately for their ability to focus on their products and making things right. In an era where everything is beta, and beta almost seems to become a quality certificate, I in fact love Apple and if it’s only for not bothering me with beta quality products, but putting the user at the center of everything. Not the geek. Not the tech blogger.
In fact, I personally am an avid Gmail user and have two Google Enterprise Apps accounts. My company heavily relies on Google Docs.
It disappoints me even more, that there hardly seems any innovation in that area. Or at least nothing worth talking about at Google I/O.
I still can’t check out with my Google Enterprise Apps account, but have to keep Gmail for that.
There are many other services, that have not been transitioned for paying Google customers either. They killed Wave. Google Profiles only work with Gmail accounts. The list goes on and on.
Remote controlling my fridge from an Android device might be good for getting a laugh in front of a large audience, but it doesn’t add a lot to the value of the Google products most people use every day.
My hopes are out for Google I/O 2012. I hope the company will find back to its strength.
Now continuing to wait for Android updates to be rolled out to the fragmented part of the planet, I’m living in.