I did a live commentary of the Google I/O 2010 keynote on May 20, 2010. Read the full transcript and my final thoughts on the Android 2.2 and Google TV announcements.
: The event has ended. Final Thoughts
: I was thrilled to hear that Android is adding 20 additional enterprise features to version 2.2 (I will have a follow-up article on that). I was less than thrilled that Google didn't address either of the two big Android issues
hovering over the platform right now. I was impressed that Android is adding over-the-air cloud sync to Android 2.2. That's a feature that Android will have before other smartphone platforms. I was also impressed by the cloud-to-device API that will allow users to send a map or a Web article, for example, from a Web browser to an Android smartphone. As for Google TV, the fact that Schmidt came on stage to talk about it and brought a bunch of big CEOs with him tells me that they are deadly serious about this. I think it will ultimately boil down to a software platform battle, with the software loaded into TVs, Blu-ray players, and cable boxes. The killer feature for Google TV could be the app store. Allowing developers to write apps for the TV could turn out to be extremely disruptive to the television and entertainment businesses by allowing startups, production companies, and even popular shows to set up their own "channels" and bypass the traditional television ecosystem.
: Technologizer editor Harry McCracken brought up a good point on Twitter: "I'm still not clear whether there will be Google TV DVRs." I have the same question. Since this is open source, I'm assuming other hardware makers could take this and make their own Google TV boxes, including some with DVR capability.
: Eric brought CEOs from Sony, Intel, Logitech, Best Buy, and Adobe on stage to talk about this for a few minutes on a panel. That's a lot of big guns coming together on one stage. It's a good indication that Google is serious about this and it isn't just a cute little experiment like Google Wave or Google Buzz.
: CEO Eric Schmidt comes on stage and says "We've been waiting for a long time for today." Talks about the intersection of the Internet, open source, TV, and other factors that it took to make it happen.
: Sony will be integrating Google TV into TVs and Blu-ray players. Logitech will be building a set-top box. Intel will be building the chipsets for this. All available in fall 2010. (Also announced partnerships with DirectTV and Best Buy.)
: Google TV will be open sourced into "both the Android and Chrome source trees."
: They say Google TV is not really a TV interface but a Web interface. To be honest, they really need to make the Web easily accessible via a remote. No one has conquered that yet. That's the holy grail.
: Android Market is also on Google TV. Google says it will run any Android apps that aren't specifically tied to phone functions. However, the bigger deal here is that now developers can start writing a bunch of apps for TVs. That could be pretty huge. It could allow little guys to essentially skip the Cable industry to create their own channels. It could also allow popular shows to essentially bypass the whole TV ecosystem and build their own channels (with re-runs, special features, star interviews, etc.)
: Google TV is built on three software pieces: Android 2.1, Chrome Web browser, and Flash 10.1.
: A cool feature in the demo was pairing the Android phone with Google TV and speaking into the Android phone for an audio search and it automatically popped up on the Google TV searched for the program. I'm not a huge voice search fan, but voice search is getting a lot more popular on both Android and iPhone devices.
: Google TV hardware will be TVs, Blu-ray players, and add-on setup TV boxes.
: The best part of what Google is trying to do with Google TV is allowing some interaction and overlay between Web and TV items, such as viewing live scoreboards or fantasy sports dashboards while watching a live sporting event.
: Google's goal here is to take any Web video and seamlessly make it available on the big screen TV. The problem with that is that it works much better with HTML5 when the Web site detects what kind of device you're using and then gives you the best stream to match. This works really well on the iPad, where HTML5 and H.264 can quickly and automatically scale up Web videos to full screen HD streams that look great on the iPad. There's nothing worse than really bad quality Web video scaled up to an HDTV is awful to watch. Most of it, I'd rather just watch on a laptop or smartphone.
: The Google TV demo has been having tons of technical problems, including problems pairing the Bluetooth keyboards to the Google TV boxes (which haven't been explained yet). At one point, they even asked attendees to turn off Bluetooth on their phones to help with interference. Ouch.
: The problem with what Google is trying to do by adding a search box to TV is that no one wants to add a full keyboard to their coffee table or end table. The only good way to pull this off that I've seen is the Boxee remote that flips over and has a keyboard on the back
: One of the problems Google wants to solve is the huge selection of programming makes it difficult to find good stuff. So--and, yes, I know this is a shocker--Google wants to add a search box to your TV interface. In the demo, the search box pops up on top of the show you're watching and let's you search.
: So it sounds like Google actually wants to bring together Web and TV more than trying to create a new box to pull the Web into TV.
: Google says the problem with attempts to bring the Web to the TV so far have been that they've tried to dumb down the Web for the TV and that forced them to try to recreate it.
: Google says TV and PC are two different worlds with hard boundaries between them and that lots of the coolest video from the Web should be viewed on your big, h-resolution TV screen.
: Now Google is talking about a new direction for Android: Google TV. I'm not quite as interested in this section but I'll keep reporting and commenting. ;-)
: Vic has the HTC EVO device up on stage and talking about all of its high-end features. He also said that in partnership with Sprint and HTC, Google is making it "available" for all of the attendees. Not sure if that means it's free to all attendees or that they get to buy it early.
: Like Apple, Google is also going "all in" on mobile advertising. It showed up some of the mobile ad formats that it's going to offer for mobile apps and mobile Web pages, as well as a mobile version of AdSense. See info here: http://www.google.com/mobileads/
: Google also announces music streaming over-the-air from your cloud-based Android Market library, coming in the future.
: Android Market is now going to be available from a Web browser and will log all of the Android devices you have. This will allow you to download apps and send them over-the-air to your device. Very nice! That's a key innovation Android now has over iPhone and RIM.
: Flash will work on Nexus One, HTC Incredible, Motorola Droid, and HTC EVO, but not on older or lesser powered Android devices (Droid Eris, MyTouch 3G, or the even the new LG Ally), because Flash will require version 2.2 and a Cortex-A8 processor. This is one of MAJOR sore spots for Android, as I mentioned before the event started and in this article: http://bit.ly/9kSSqp
: "It turns out people use Flash." Android is going to support both Adobe Flash and Adobe AIR. Obviously, this is a big competitive advantage for Android over the iPhone and iPad. There are some things that are built on Flash and aren't going to be changing any time soon. I also have some desktop AIR apps that I really like, such as Tweetdeck and Snackr. I'm interested in the concept of mobile apps built on AIR.
: Now they're showing off improvements in voice recognition. Google is really interested in this stuff. As PCMag's Sascha Segan pointed out on Twitter, "But does it work over Bluetooth? A shameful omission on most Android phones. Unexcusable."
: Wow, Google just announced it's tethering and mobile hotspot feature. It looks like a user to activate this without carrier interaction, and potentially without an extra tethering charge from carriers. I need to confirm that.
: Google announces a new cloud-to-device API that lets you send things like maps, directions, articles, and Web pages from your browser to your Android phone. This is a nice innovation. Developers will do cool stuff with this, probably limited to Chrome-to-Android, though.
: "We've heard loud and clear from the enterprise that they need certain features." Android 2.2 adds 20 new enterprises features, including better Exchange integration and remote wipe. Android is playing catch-up here, with both RIM and iPhone.
: Google is announcing Android 2.2 today with five major pillars. Google's Vic Gundotra says he has 22 demos to show.
: Android now has 50,000 apps. That's a pretty quick ramp up from the 10K it had when Motorola Droid launched last October.
: Android has 60 devices, 21 manufacturers, 48 countries, 59 carriers. Also getting
: Google is getting started by talking about why they built Android to fight a "draconian future" where one person, one company, one carrier could control the mobile market. Wow, big swing at Apple!
: Google CEO Eric Schmidt is expected to be one of the speakers this morning. Will will see Larry and Sergei as well? The number of those three that appear on stage together tells you the level of importance Google places on the announcement. If it's all three, they think it's huge. Just one, then it's important but not something they're making a huge bet on.
: I also think there are two big issues Google needs to address in regards to Android: 1.) OS fragmentation and 2.) The intersection point between Android and Chrome OS. See more details in this article I wrote on Monday: http://bit.ly/9kSSqp
: My big question is whether Google might show off Android tablets or announce an official tablet version of Android.
: We're expecting Android news this morning. Yesterday Google promised some surprises for today's keynote. They were probably referring to Google TV.
I will be doing live commentary of the Google I/O 2010 keynote on May 20, 2010 at 8:30AM Pacific / 11:30AM Eastern. You can watch the event streaming over the Web (and afterward on-demand) at Google's YouTube site.
Photo by Andrew Mager