Posts Tagged ‘Google I/O’

Google IO – 18 Months of Android Upgrades Coming

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

We’ve all been there. That point where we don’t know whether to hang on to our current phone or lay down some exorbitant amount of money for the latest and greatest model. They might be upgrading the OS, you might have said. More often than not, especially for AT&T customers, the upgrades never come, and you end up missing out on the latest phone until it too is outdated. Google is trying to solve this problem, and has brought together an impressive set of partners to do so.

At yesterday’s IO keynote, Google announced that it was partnering with AT&T, Sony Ericsson, Sprint, Verizon, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, Vodafone, and LG to make sure that phones are upgraded in a timely manner for a definite period of time. The details are still forthcoming, but the general idea is that each carrier/manufacturer would guarantee 18 months of upgrades and support for each phone. With most American cell phone contracts lasting 2 years at a time, 18 months of upgrades is not so bad. In fact it is great! One thinks of the Xperia X10 which AT&T doomed to fail by letting it linger in Android 1.6, all the while Sony Ericsson was working on kicking out a Gingerbread release (expected this quarter). HTC has supported certain phones, yet other nearly identical models aren’t supported based on the type of screen. This type of thing could soon be a memory.

As new Android versions are released, the carriers would upgrade the operating systems much faster than their current rate of deployment. You wouldn’t find yourself being two to three operating systems behind the current version. This is pretty exciting news. This will go far in addressing the fragmentation issue. Developers won’t have to worry so much about backward compatibility once this system is set up. They can just develop apps for the latest OS. I think this will do a lot to bring some of the iOS-only developers on board with Android. If an app can be used across carriers, and there is a consistent OS running the devices, there will be a larger, non-fragmented audience standing in line to buy their apps.

I am looking forward to seeing what comes of this partnership. It would be nice to know that the phone won’t be obsolete within weeks of purchase. What about you? Do you think this can work? Will the carriers cooperate with Google? Let me know in the comments.

Android Market Now Rents Movies

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Google’s annual IO conference began today, and Android was a highlight of the keynote. Among the more notable new features, Google is now offering movie rentals through the Android Market. Movies range from $1.99 to $3.99, and have similar terms and expiration policies as other services. I am still looking for the $1.99 selection. There is a good mix of newer and older titles available, from “The King’s Speech” to Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life”.

Browsing through the movie selection, there are a number of features available. You can watch a preview with YouTube, get critic reviews or user reviews, tweet about the movie, read a synopsis, and find out general information about the movie. Movie ratings, length, and contract terms are available as well. Once purchased, the rental is valid for 30 days if the movie is not watched. Once playback begins, the timeline drops to 24 hours. This is comparable to the PlayStation Network and Dish Network’s pay per view options.

I think this service is poised to give both Netflix and Amazon a run for their money. The layout is clean, easy to follow, and conveniently connected to your Google account. This means you can watch on your Android phone or your computer, no matter where you are. There’s even a feature to watch the movie offline if you don’t have a consistent connection. This is done with a “pin” feature, and can take a good chunk of time on a tablet such as the Xoom. Google posts download times as 45-90 minutes for HD and 30-60 minutes for SD. Streaming is instant, so you might want to do that if your data plan isn’t unlimited.

The service is currently available only in the United States. Google suggests you download the movie before leaving the country if you want to use the service elsewhere. An Android app is available on the Xoom, and requires Flash. The app should be available for Froyo and above soon, but you can browse for movies at market.android.com/movies.

I think this feature will be getting a lot of action in my household. I’m looking forward to spending some more time with it. This weekend’s road trip should provide ample opportunity to play, so I’ll post my experiences next week.

Google Gunning for Apple

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

In case you weren’t aware, as hard as it is to imagine with all the coverage, Google and Apple aren’t getting along so well right now. For that matter, neither are Apple and Adobe. Steve Jobs hasn’t done much to remedy the situation, pushing Google and Adobe further and further away. Adobe has tried feebly to fight back, though it is trying to focus on how much it loves Apple, rather than really taking a stand. Google has less qualms. At the I/O conference, there have been a number of pot-shots taken at Apple.

Apple’s new iPad has been the butt of several jokes, and was shown side-by-side with the Nexus One which ran circles around it. JavaScript processing speeds were compared on two Nexus One phones, one with Eclair and one with Froyo, and the iPad was compared against them both. The Froyo-enabled Nexus One clearly out-shined the others, while the Eclair made the iPad look clunky.

Other shots were taken regarding the iPad’s networking capabilities. Most of the jabs will probably hit home with every Apple employee except Jobs, who really couldn’t care less about his reputation right now. Most of the jokes were well received by Google developers attending the I/O, and there were some good laughs had by all. The fact that the jokes rang true made them that much more potent.

Also of note was the presence of Adobe’s CEO at the I/O. Flash is making great strides in implementing CSS and WebM technologies. Dreamweaver even looks useful now as it is able to help implement CSS styling to video/animated content. Adobe is coming out of this conference looking really good.

While Google has maintained a strong relationship with Flash, including it in Google TV for example, HTML 5 is clearly on Google’s mind. What Google is doing is offering the freedom of choice to its users. Use Flash, use HTML 5, use anything, whatever you want. This is far different from Jobs’ HTML 5 only stance. One of the great lines from Google went something along the lines of “As it turns out, people actually use Flash”. This got a good laugh, but it was very poignant. Apple is way off-base here, and Google (and Adobe) wanted everyone to know.

Google and Apple are clearly going different directions. Google is for the Open Web, and Apple wants a Walled Garden. From all appearances, the users are happier with the Open Web. I think we will either see Apple opening up or fading into the sunset as time goes by.