Sundar Pichai on Android, Chrome, unification and the future

June 27, 2014
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Sundar Pichai

Google IO concludes as one of the most successful conferences the Search Giant has hosted. Announcements were not scarce and we have yet to see all the new products, services and features reach our hands. What can we expect from Google in the coming months and years?

Sundar Pichai, the man in charge of the Android and Chrome divisions, sat down with WIRED after the eventful couple days. We now have access to one of the most interesting and insightful Google-related interviews we have seen in a long time. Sundar has become iconic to Google’s fans, setting up Chrome and Android, two of our favorite technologies, in a path to success.

Pichai speaks on multiple subjects revolving this week’s announcements. Google IO 2014 will stand as a historic event – it is when Google decides to go full steam on its ventures to catch every market out there and unify it.

Unifying Google’s products and services

Pichai clearly specifies that Google aims to bring Chrome and Android to every screen available. The market is growing into a multi-screen ecosystem, in which we are surrounded by smart devices. Pichai wants to unify it via these two major platforms, putting your smartphone at the very center of everything.

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This does come with its downsides, though, something that is pointed out in this interview. Unifying all screens also means locking into a certain ecosystem. Pichai reassures us that Google wants to approach connectivity in an open manner, hoping all devices will work together. But of course, in some cases there will be limitations that will push you towards buying into a certain ecosystem.

Platforms like Android TV, Android Wear and Android Auto will aim to work with other devices as well. Especially important platforms like iOS, but we know Google has very little interest working with Microsoft. This implies this “openness” may have its limits.

Android without Google

It’s hard to grasp the idea of Android without Google, as one is made by the other, but there is such a thing. More specifically, it’s possible to run Android without using Google Play and Google’s apps. We can take Amazon’s Kindle Fire devices as the perfect example, as well as certain Chinese devices.

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While Android is free and Google tends to support the “rebels”, Pichai does state he doesn’t quite see these non-Google-supported devices in the same category.

“From a user experience standpoint, I don’t view those as Android devices.” -Sundar Pichai

As for China, Pichai states they still have hopes they can work better with the Asian market. They may have their issues with China, but the demand and interest are said to be very present.

Samsung and Google

One of the biggest questions is whether Samsung and Google are to be friends or foes. Samsung seems to be aiming towards separation with its own OS, but Google promises Samsung is here to stay for a long time. Their relationship is very tight in both Android and Chrome, making them natural partners.

samsung gear live first look (7 of 19)

Where is the hardware?

Google has been much more focused in developers the past couple years. The idea is the consumer wins more from good support than they do with exciting new products. We got many announcements and some devices this year, but ultimately Google wants hardware to come through other announcements and events.

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Sundar also clarifies that the hardware department hasn’t been handed over to NEST. They are running separately and Android will not interfere until it’s time to see deeper integration.

“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.” -Sundar Pichai

Wrap-up

These are but the main points Pichai covers, but we can tell Google has some solid plans to keep its services, devices and platforms well organized and integrated. The interview is a great read, so we advice you check it out if you want to learn more about Sundar’s views. He also goes into the Google IO protests and the possibility of becoming Google’s CEO.

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