In his first interview since taking over the reigns of Android after Andy Rubin’s departure, Sundar Pichai talked about Google plans for the future, revealing in the process that this year’s Google I/O edition will not be focused on new hardware or operating systems, but rather on developers and user experience.
Google I/O 2013
Talking to Wired, Pichai had this to say when asked about Google I/O 2013:
It’s going to be different. It’s not a time when we have much in the way of launches of new products or a new operating system. Both on Android and Chrome, we’re going to focus this I/O on all of the kinds of things we’re doing for developers, so that they can write better things. We will show how Google services are doing amazing things on top of these two platforms.
As you can see, Google will not have “much” when it comes to launches, but that leaves plenty of room for interpretation. “Not much” means there will be some hardware announcements and software updates.
In other words – time for some speculation on our part – we may not see a Nexus 5 or Android 5.0 (dubbed Key Lime Pie) but instead we could see a slightly updated Nexus 4, maybe a new Nexus 7 tablet, a Motorola-made smartwatch (which we have exclusively reported on earlier today) and an incremental Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update.
We’ll end our speculation there and quote Pichai again, talking about Google-branded hardware:
You will see a continuation of what we have tried to do with Nexus and Chromebooks. Any hardware projects we do will be to push the ecosystem forward.
In addition to cautiously talking about Google I/O, the Google exec that’s now heading both the Chrome and Android efforts talked about other Google matters.
On other companies and Android…
When asked about certain companies that use Android at their advantage, Pichai was very diplomatic, suggesting that Google is happy as long as OEMs decide to rely on Android to meet their needs. The names that came up during the conversation were Facebook, Amazon and Samsung, for different reasons.
On Facebook Home, Pichai said Google is excited to see the social network choose Android and that it did good work, while not completely agreeing with Facebook’s focus on people. Furthermore, he said that Google would not block companies from taking advantage of Android as Facebook did, or at least that won’t happen as long as users have a “good overall experience.”
When talking about Amazon’s Kindle Fires that run a forked Android version, Pichai said this isn’t the kind of stuff Google is trying to prevent and that the company “would love everyone to work on one version of Android.”
Finally, when talking about Samsung, the Googler said that the relationship between Google and Samusng is not as bad as described by the press and that Samsung is “a great partner to work with.” He even revealed that he is using the Galaxy S4, although he hasn’t tried some of its features including the “eye-tracking thing,” as Wired puts it.
On Motorola, well, the company is still just a partner for Google.
On Android and Chrome sitting in a tree…
Since the exec is now leading Google’s computing efforts, Android and Chrome, he got the obvious question: will the two operating systems merge?
And the answer seems to be a negative one, at least for now. The two operating systems are seen as “large, open platforms, growing very fast” that will continue to exist as separate entities. He did add that “the picture may look different a year or two from now, but in the short term, [Google has] Android and [Google has] Chrome, and [Google is] not changing course.”
Pichai also said that he will focus on user experience for the two operating systems in the future, so that both end-users and app developers will be able to benefit from the Android and Chrome coexistence.
On time travel…
Managing such two complex products can’t be easy so it looks like Pichai has worked on a Google project of his own to address this problem. Unlike regular humans, he seem to have been able to add “four hours every day to the 24 hours we have,” in order to be able to deal with Android and Chrome better. And there’s “a bit of time travel involved,” after all, how else would he accomplish his mission:
Larry wants to make sure we are driving innovation and doing amazing things for users and developers. That’s what I want too. So there’s a melding of minds– his marching orders are, “Please go and do Google-scale things.”
Seriously though, we’ll be on location in Mountain View this week, from where we’ll report on all things Google this I/O edition, so make sure you stick around!