April 16, 2014

Google I/O Keynote: Now With Free Phones!

Today and tomorrow, I will be reporting semi-live from Google I/O 2009, the conference for all Google tech. My posts will be mostly focused on the Android sessions I attend and other bits of Android-y goodness, though you may see notes on some other big-ticket announcements that might get made from here in the Moscone Center.

First up is Wednesday’s introductory keynote, kicked off by Eric Schmidt.

As one might expect from a keynote at a broad-based conference like Google I/O, the content was all over the map, from Chrome to App Engine to, eventually, Android.

A lot of initial focus was on HTML5, including such things like Canvas. While a lot of Google focus on HTML5 in Chrome, as HTML5 capabilities work their way into WebKit, they will become more important to Android developers, particularly those using WebView as their app UI. Moreover, HTML5 will give us a lot of capabilities within an Android Web browser, like geolocation, that might otherwise require a wrapper like PhoneGap to inject various APIs.

Though it was disturbing to have the first mobile demo be Google Latitude running in a Web browser…on iPhone 3.0. Fortunately, their second demo was offline GMail running on Android.

Shortly after that demo, though, they turned the stage over to Michael Abbott, Sr. VP at Palm, to talk about WebOS. The premise was how HTML5 is leveraged in WebOS, and how they would like to extend HTML5 further to offer standardized APIs like accelerometer information. Again, the fact that Palm is profiled in this keynote is not bad, but it is somewhat disappointing that Android is taking a back seat so far.

The keynote then switched to coverage of Google App Engine and GWT. The biggest thing there was that Java App Engine signups are now open, so those who did not get in on the public beta program can now start using Java with App Engine.

They then announced Google Web Elements, which makes various Google services, like Google News and Maps, embeddable on arbitrary Web sites like YouTube videos are, with just copy and paste. Visit http://google.com/webelements for more details.

Then…who-hoo! Android!

They’re citing 4,900 apps in the Android Market, with 40+ app downloads per user. They then gave the floor to the indomitable Romain Guy to preview a couple of Donut-era features.

The first is adaptive search, where Android will learn how you use search, including frequently-found results, searching across all apps simultaneously (e.g., searching contacts and the Web at one time).

The second is text-to-speech, the logical counterpart of Android 1.5′s speech-to-text API. Android will ship with several language packs, and your applications will be able to request to have an Android device say what you want. Moreover, this is being released as open source, not as a commercial add-on.

He also briefly demoed handwriting on-screen to use for filtering contacts (e.g., draw the letter ‘e’ and see all the contacts whose names begin with ‘e’), though it is unclear if this is in Donut.

ADC 2 is also announced today – I’ll have a separate post on that later in the day. They’re also giving out unlocked phones to all attendees, which got the suspected raucous applause.

They’re also hinting at a big announcement, on par with the phone giveaway, for tomorrow’s keynote.

So, all in all, while Android seemed like it was a bit underplayed, the ending certainly got everyone’s attention.

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