Google IO 2010

February 23, 2010

Google IO is happening 19th-20th May this year. I was fortunate enough to have attended last year and can honestly say that it is one of the best conferences around. In fact I’m a little surprised that it’s only on for two days (although this year, a special bootcamp is being held as a precursor to the event http://code.google.com/events/io/2010/bootcamp.html).

There are talks from 10 different tracks to choose from: Android, App Engine, Chrome, Enterprise, Geo, Google APIs, GWT, Social Web, Wave, Tech Talks + I’m sure that there will be sessions for exciting products/technologies that will be announced during the keynote.

For the keynote on the 2nd day of the conference last year, I was unwitting sat right behind the Google Wave team as Lars Rasmussen and Stephanie Hannon impressively introduced us to a mammoth 1h20min demonstration of their top secret project to revolutionise online communication http://wave.google.com/about.html.  I’ve been developing on wave as part of my start-up so I’m aware of the advancements that they have made this year but I still can’t wait to hear what surprises that they have for us at IO.  I have some ideas/educated guesses that I’ll write about in another post!

For me, the Nexus One had one huge feature missing yesterday – Multi-touch. It was completely glossed over during the press announcement and when asked about it during the Q&A, it was dodged by an uncomfortable looking Andy Rubin.

As, I watch the video back Peter Chou, the CEO of HTC, is very cool and understated in his delivery when he says “yeah, we thank that this is a great phone, one of the best”. When specifically asked about multi-touch, Peter says that it is available on the Droid Eris, implying that it could have been included in the Nexus One. When Andy Rubin was asked specifically if the Nexus One might one day support multi-touch, he answered “we’ll consider it”.

The key here though is that the hardware is *not* capable of multi-touch (also confirmed by UK Android developer advocate at Google, Reto Meier http://bit.ly/5EfWL9). So while I was disappointed that some other things such as an improvement in the market place were not delivered today, I know that these can be addressed in a future software release. However, I do not believe that this is possible for multi-touch on the Nexus One.

So, I conclude that this can only be a tactical business decision taken by Google. Of course this makes sense, when they release the next version of the Nexus One they’ll really need a way to (physically) differentiate it besides just adding a keyboard or incrementally improving the storage, CPU and memory specs. Apple play the same game e.g. releasing the new iPod touch in September without a camera. I just think that Google should have been better prepared for the question since it was such an obvious one.

Edit:  Clearly the Nexus One device itself does support multi-touch (as reported here http://techcrunch.com/2010/02/02/nexus-one-multi-touch/) since Google have recently provided an over the air update that enables pinch zoom on photos, google maps and the web browser.  So why the lack of multi-touch to begin with?  It looks as if there was a gentlemens agreement with Apple from the days as postulated here http://www.pcworld.com/article/159260/google_backs_off_multitouch_to_please_apple_report_claims.html (when Eric Schmidt was on the Apple board).  Now it seems all gloves are off.

I recently encountered an issue while trying to connect my android device to my laptop running XP.  Firstly, the installation process did not resemble the instructions as documented here (http://developer.android.com/guide/developing/device.html#XPFreshInstall) in that the new hardware wizard did not automatically kick-in.  Furthermore, it was difficult to know which was the correct target USB driver to update when viewing the Device Manager dialogue.

The solution:
Keep the Device manager open while removing and then reconnecting the android device to your pc/laptop. You should be able to visually see which new USB entry has just appeared in the Device Manager. Then you can update the driver as per the installation instructions.

Once you have successfully installed the device driver, you can test by opening a dos prompt to the <android_sdk>/tools directory and then running the command ‘adb devices’.  If this does not show the new device, try running the command ‘adb kill-server’.  You can then rerun the ‘adb devices’ command to restart the server and list the (hopefully!) updated list of devices!