Is Android boring and if so, is that a good thing?
Google I/O was just last week and it has almost passed from our memory as if it never happened. Sure, we’re super excited about some of the neat things coming to Android, but there were no skydivers, or robots bursting out of the walls, or anything really…exciting, you know? What I mean is Google I/O and Android may have gotten a little boring.
Consider the audience
I mean, let’s face it – Google I/O is a developer’s conference after all. How exciting should it really be? Sure, we get to see some of the new things coming to Android and to Google Home and the world of VR, but at the end of the day, this conference is for a different kind of geek than me. I’ve tried to code in the past, and it is just a skill that I don’t have, and probably never will. But it’s these kinds of geeks – and bless their geekiness by the way – that will benefit the most from a conference like that. It’s not a conference for the average Joe. It’s a conference for Pocketnow’s Joe.
So, some of the things we’re going to see in Android O are more like minor refinements, rather than major advances on the platform. And the crazy thing is – that’s entirely ok. In fact, that’s awesome. Because the fact Google is making minor tweaks to its operating system and not skydiving onto the stage speaks to Android’s maturity as an operating system. In short, it’s a damn fine operating system and it is arguably the top dog in the mobile OS space when it comes to maturity.
No, this is not an opportunity to spit all over iOS – it’s is also a fine OS for what it is. But Android has reached that point in maturity and feature completeness that it can really focus on things like battery life and background process optimization. It can focus on the next billion smartphone owners out there using lower-end hardware. It can focus on little details like notification badges. And it can start to build on its next generation services like Google Assistant.
Indeed, most of what we’ve seen for the past two years at Google I/O has focused around Google Assistant. Google is going all in on its assistant and machine learning. Google has a ton of data and resources as its disposal and it’s starting to use those assets to benefit all mankind. Or to bring about the end of humanity, but whatever. But it’s a wonderful thing that Google now has such a robust OS that it can start to work on that next generation of thinking, much like what our own Juan Carlos Bagnell has been preaching about for months now.
To be frank, anyone who thinks that we’re all still going to be using individual apps five years from now is not thinking ahead. Google is thinking ahead by deeply integrating Google Assistant into apps and services, like ordering Panera Bread. Maybe on the face of it, Panera Bread isn’t anything special – though I will argue that their Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice soup is to die for. But consider the implications of what occurred on stage at Google I/O. Google Assistant tied into an app and used its guts to accomplish the task you asked for. This is basically the culinary equivalent of asking Google Assistant what the weather is going to be.
That is where we’re heading – products and services won’t be ordered through individual apps, but through an ecosystem that will really tie the room together. That is the future of apps and operating systems – deep integration. It’s much like what Bixby is looking to accomplish as well, but perhaps in a different way. I say perhaps because neither Google nor Bixby are really delivering on these promises so far.
But the night is young, and yes Android is getting a little boring. But that’s why things are so exciting right now. Because if Android has reached the point where it can start reaching toward the future, then we’re all in a really great place right now. But we’re going to be in an even better place tomorrow.