Google set out Wednesday to expand its Android Empire beyond smartphones to cars, watches and televisions. The technology titan laid out a sweeping Android vision at the opening of a sold-out developers conference in a keynote presentation streamed online to millions of people across the world.
“We are beginning to evolve our platforms beyond mobile,” Android and Chrome teams chief Sundar Pichai said of how Google’s twin operating systems are being adapted to work with one another and with new types of computing hardware. Google’s goal, according to Pichai, is to have its software serve be a foundation for applications, services or digital content delivered seamlessly across the increasingly diverse array of Internet-linked screens in people’s lives.
All these Android related hardware and services will be made available to manufacturers but something is quite different here. Unlike Android for the smartphone and tablet devices, manufacturers won’t be able to put their own style on Android Wear, Android TV and Android Auto devices. The whole design and user interface will be standard across all devices.
This is a huge blow to the openness of Android but it is also a huge improvement in keeping a lid on fragmentation and confusion. We envision manufacturers will complain on the grounds that they lack the ability to differentiate their products but some might say they could do so in hardware design and features.
It is also good news for those who prefers Google’s vision for Android and would rather the operating system going untouched with user interface changes that are usually bloated and heavy on hardware performance.
Google also announced another shot at smart televisions with Android TV software for what are typically the biggest screens in homes. Google is giving televisions the same level of attention that phones and tablets have enjoyed, according to Android engineering director Dave Burke.
Android smartphones, complete with voice command features could be used to direct searches and more on television screens, an on-stage demonstration showed. Games from the Google Play shop could also be played on televisions.
“The Google Empire is trying to grow,” Gartner Consumer Technology research Director Brian Blau said on the sidelines of the San Francisco keynote presentation. “Google is trying to be more like Apple and creating more consistent experiences with devices that work together.”
Google also showed off steps it is taking to make Android devices along with its services offered in the Internet cloud amenable to workplaces. Improvements include tools for separating personal and company uses of mobile devices as well as better handling of files made using Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint programs.
“Among those watching the conference online was a group of female developers in Nigeria”, said Pichai, who noted that more than a fifth of those taking part in the conference are women. “We are working hard to elevate women in computer sciences,” Pichai said.
Users should also bear in mind that if Google keep its control over these new platforms, there is a high chance that the company might never release the source code to allow anyone to add their own touch. It would be a huge blow to some. But with android dominating over every other platform, we can now see why Google has no fear of going down this route.