May 09, 2011

Google I/O 2011: Android and Chrome OS All the Time


This week, Google is holding their annual developers conference on Tuesday and Wednesday in San Francisco. The event has grown in stature over the last few years, rivaling only MacWorld (back when Steve Jobs would keynote) in anticipation as press, users and evangelists banter back and forth about will or won't be announced at the event. For the second year in a row, I'll be there, after what was no doubt one of the more enjoyable technology events for me last year. But instead of going in expecting whiz-bang products and breath-taking surprises, I am expecting to hear strong updates on the company's continued march in hardware operating systems, both mobile and desktop, taking the company even further away from their initial core focus on search and accompanying ads, but not so extreme as to having us scratching our heads and demanding to find a use case.

Like the aforementioned Apple, Google already does a solid enough job year-round, between its biggest events, of keeping people updated. The Nexus One was announced at a special media event, as was the Honeycomb tablet OS. Google Buzz got its own event, all at the company's Mountain View headquarters where the venue was more comfortable, the expectations were maybe more muted, and the numbers were certainly smaller. But I/O is the crown jewel of conferences for the search and ads giant - a place to update its extended community of geeks on progress to date, while simultaneously encouraging them to help push their next initiatives forward, keeping their attention close while so many temptations lurk elsewhere.

The Sessions and Pods Heavy on Android & Chrome, Light on Social

If the Google I/O application for Android is any indication of the week's focus, there are dedicated tracks for the company's two-pronged approach to take share in mobile and desktop OS's - Android and Chrome, flanked by items deeper in the weeds, like App Engine, Commerce, Geo, Developer Tools, APIs, Tech Talk and Google Apps.

Tuesday's Schedule and My Tentative Attendance

The 2010 tracks make one either cringe or wax nostalgic with scads of updates on Google Wave, dedicated meetings to discuss Google Buzz APIs, and an entire track on the Social Web, from PubSubHubbub, Open and Social Web, OpenSocial, and the integration of Google Buzz with location and social gaming. Not in 2011. There's no Social Web track at all. Other sites have predicted what that means for the future of Google Social, but what it does mean is that one should plan on talking about something else outside of the two-part keynotes Tuesday and Wednesday.

Google I/O 2010 was the flashpoint in my transition from iPhone to Android, after the latter OS had just been a curiosity to me. I've extended this Mountain View infiltration into my life with the addition of the Chrome OS powered CR-48, and spend a ton of time with my Samsung Galaxy Tab and Barnes and Noble NOOKColor, both of which run Android. In the fall of 2010, as I joined my6sense, we launched on Android, and have leveraged the Android ecosystem to find partners. 2011 looks like it should provide updates on Android helpful to both developers and users, and it may possibly be the starting point for getting Chrome OS equipment to the masses, beyond the initial beta units that I and others like me have been lugging around.

The combination of Android and Chrome OS should be enough for the event. No doubt we'll hear more about numbers, partnerships, coding, development, standards, openness and what have you. We may get more demos of music, but no announcements. We may see updates on the Android Market and Chrome Web Store, but they're ancillary to the main attractions one and two. No swing for the fences surprises, but straight up execution where the company knows its strengths and won't likely be second guessed. That can be saved for a special event when the time is right.