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Google’s Sundar Pichai Explains Some of the Huge News From This Year’s Developer Conference

June 27, 2014 - Written By Phil Bourget

Google I/O concluded on Thursday afternoon, and we, both developer and consumer, were left with much new and important news to take in and share around.  But the huge amount of news is justified, and Google’s Sundar Pichai, in a very interesting interview with Wired, shared why there was so much and why so much of it was huge, important news and happenings.  As a quick topic overview, Wired asked Pichai about the intent of making this year’s I/O conference less hardware-centric, the future path of Google with its connected lifestyle products, and ecosystem ‘gangs’.

Pichai explained that I/O for 2014 was far less hardware-centric than 2013, simply since the conference is meant for developers, as evinced by the coding session mid-keynote, and that’s the way Pichai wants and hopes that it remains.  He responded, when the comparative shortage of hardware this year, by saying “Our hardware, first of all, is almost always around Nexus products [which didn’t happen to be timed for this season.]  I prefer how we did I/O this year – I view I/O to be for developers”.  Pichai also mentioned how the lack of hardware gave the spotlight to the software, the things that developers actually need and benefit from having. Wired continued on to question Pichai about Google’s plans and hopes for connecting a life and lifestyle, but beginning with the home: “We are deeply committed to supporting a smarter connected home from an Android standpoint. And we’ll do it thoughtfully with Nest. We’ll have a lot more to say about it later this year. We will also support our partners for building home based solutions too”.

Nest, as most should know, was acquired by Google in the past year, and the leadership of the company is the same, but they work with Google, and will be adding the popular Ok Google voice interaction in the next year reportedly, so Nest may still be its own company, but Google is connected for sure. Wired also brought up gangs but not the traditional ones.  They brought up with Pichai the ecosystem competition, and the inclusivity which is gripping each of the big three, Google, Apple, and Microsoft more with each hardware and software iteration.  Coming from the topic of unified experience across a platform, Wired posited this: “One aspect of a very unified, cross device, multi-screen platform like you’re building is a lock-in effect. You and Apple and Microsoft are like gangs—once you join one, you’re in- but there’s a penalty for veering out of the neighborhood. The Android wearable platform almost certainly won’t work with something Apple introduces later this year. This limits my choices. Will the phone I use determine what car I buy, what TV I buy?”

Pichai was able to explain that though users may have and operate in multiple ecosystems, like having an iPhone and using all the Google services, or using an iPad for work but owning and using an Android device personally, they aren’t crossing some sort of line, and they are more than welcome to change involvement in different ecosystems, and even altogether go with one and avoid the other(s).  But he goes on to explain that, as Microsoft and Apple sometimes prefer ‘exclusively-us’, where only someone with Apple or Microsoft devices can benefit or even use or access the thing, experiences, Google will work to promote openness of their own projects, but there are a few fields of technology, such as wearables, where people must choose or choose carefully which phone to get if they want a specific wearable or functionality. Pichai put it politely that in the future, possibly even the near future, the consumer will have to choose which platform to use but that Google will always be working for an open experience, for both their customers and developers.