Google has been making all sorts of innovations in many different fields, from the obvious ones like the web or mobile platforms to some really strange ones like self-driving cars, clean energy, a cure for aging or getting internet to the whole world through balloons. The funny thing is, even if Google is a software company, it’s been really successful in these new fields. Obviously, self-driving cars and internet balloons are not yet available to be called a success, but the innovation is there, you can see it working, we’ve even saw real data about the cars being better than humans. This tells me that Google’s success in the web and mobile is not just because they hired the right people to do the job, it tells me that Google’s approach to everything is the correct one, that the ideas and the motivation are in the right place and that is what’s driving Google forward at this stage.
Enter Motorola, Google had its hands in all sort of mobile related software from an OS to many different apps and even a game but they never had any kind of influence over mobile hardware. Sure, they had the Nexus line of phones but that was just a slight modification to an already existing device, it doesn’t give Google the playground they wanted to really start innovating. So they bought Motorola. Sure, the patents are a nice touch, but all of the hardware area, the experience and the talent is what gave Google the tools they needed to put their way of thinking into changing the mobile landscape.
From day one, Google said that they had inherited 18 months of work that they had to finish and ship before they could start working on what they really wanted. Now, those 18 months have passed and we’re starting to see innovation pouring out of Motorola like crazy.
First, the Moto X and the new Droids, phones that have less than top-of-the-line hardware and yet run smoother and longer than most of the top-tier devices in the market (and I’m not even talking about the Droid Maxx crazy battery life). With those phones we’ve also seen Motorola bring a few impressive new software features never seen before in the market. Touchless Control, the first time a phone is always listening without affecting battery life and can even tell your voice apart anyone else so you’re the only one who can use it. Active Display is the first piece of software to actually take advantage of the properties of the super AMOLED displays by just using certain pixels to give information when needed. The same can be said about the quick capture gesture, a simple use of the phone’s sensors that was rapidly copied by developers on the Google Play Store.
All of this comes together the first manufacture process that allows you to customize your phone and still have it delivered to your house in 4 days.
This is just from the first device designed under Google’s umbrella and now we’re seeing a whole new kind of innovation coming from Motorola: Project Ara. The dream of a phone with interchangeable hardware is a bit closer to reality. Just imagine buying a new camera module for your phone and just swapping out that part, while keeping the rest of the device intact, some time later, you upgrade the processor or the GPU. You can build your own phone according to your needs and even carry different parts for different situations, like you carry lenses for a camera.
Project Ara comes from a division inside Motorola called Advanced Technology and Products (ATAP) which is like Motorola’s own Google X lab which was created just a few months after Google’s acquisition of Motorola. I don’t think that’s a coincidence, in fact, it’s probably the opposite of that. Google probably had these ideas in mind and they just needed a hardware division to set things in motion.
This is just the beginning of Google’s hardware innovation and if we put together all the crazy things Google is attempting to achieve, we can be certain the future is going to be a lot of fun for everyone.