Thursday, May 12, 2011

Google I/O 2011

Google I/O 2011 wrapped up yesterday. Overall it was another great experience. I attended for the first time last year.

First off, I/O had a much bigger Android footprint than last year. That might have something to do with the fact that the platform has exploded in growth. But this year they devoted an entire floor to Android. Some pics...

Here's me showing my love for the green guy:

Here you can see the giant Android figures all over the place:

They even tore up the carpet on the third floor and put down custom Android carpeting. There were autonomous Android-bots roaming around bumping into people and chirping as well.

And the first day keynote focused on Android, rather than teasing us until the second day, like last year.

Goodie-wise, they gave us all a new Samsung Galaxy limited edition 10.1" tab, which is pretty sweet, though I hope they don't release the software in this condition when it goes live. I've found some page rendering in the browser (ironically, the acceptance to Google Music Beta didn't render properly on my tab). I couldn't find the books app, either natively installed or on the market. And I couldn't find a native video player. When I uploaded an mp4 to try it out, I could not find it via the file explorer or any other way. So I basically couldn't figure out how to play a video that I put on the device. Unlike other Android devices, when you attach it to a PC it either needs to be in USB debugging mode, and if that is toggled off, you can then mount for file transfer. But every other Android device allows you to do both when attaching to a PC. This is pretty weird. We're supposed to get an OS update in "a few weeks", so hopefully that will clear up a lot of these issues.

We also got invitations to Google Music Beta. I'll discuss that when I play around with it more. We got a promise that we'd get information on how to claim free ChromeBooks, laptops running the new ChromeOS. I'm somewhat skeptical about this paradigm, but I'm still looking forward to trying it out. And finally, we all got mobile wi-fi hotspots with 3 free months from Verizon. Thanks to Google and the manufacturers!

Some people also received the new Sony-Ericsson Xperia play phones if they were lucky enough to attend a particular session on Day 2. I think this was a pretty bad idea. First of all, second day Android sessions had very severe capacity issues, so many devs, including myself, weren't able to attend most of the Android afternoon sessions, including the one with the giveaway. In fact, I think it's possible that rumors of a giveaway may have created the congestion. So this was bad for the two main reasons that it possibly kept some developers from attending sessions they wanted to attend, and it probably engendered some bad feelings from devs who selectively received free phones.

I actually heard another rumor that HTC wanted to give away phones to everyone, but Google thought that level of hardware giveaway would be too extreme. Ah well. So I didn't get a phone, which I need to upgrade. And unfortunately the Nexus S is not available on Verizon. So I'll probably end up getting a Thunderbolt, or possibly switching carriers.

Anyway, I had a good time, and got to talk to a lot of nice folks from Google, as well as other devs. I didn't meet up with nearly as many devs as last year. I think they could do a better job of facilitating networking between devs with common interests, and I told them as much in my feedback note.

So I'll most likely be there next year as well.

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