Ina Fried

Recent Posts by Ina Fried

What Google Promised Last Year at I/O and What the Heck Happened

Warning: Not everything you hear about at Google I/O this week will necessarily make its way to the real world.

Google made a lot of announcements at last year’s I/O developer conference. While a few were specific products that were ready, a lot of last year’s talks were of the “here’s where we are going” variety. And not everything has turned out just the way Google had hoped.

With this year’s event kicking off on Wednesday, AllThingsD decided to take a look back at what was promised and where things stand.

1. Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0)

Full marks for Google on this one. The company said that the next version of Android would ship by year’s end, and would unify the company’s tablet and phone operating systems. The operating system came out last year on the Galaxy Nexus, and is now finally becoming a mainstay on new top-end smartphones, such as the Galaxy S III and HTC One.

2. Google Music

It’s kind of a mixed bag. The company announced a beta of its music-in-the-cloud service at Google I/O — and actually launched it, with the help of most of the big music labels, later that year. That said, it’s not clear how many people are actively using the music locker service. (Google did note in March that,as of then, four million people had created a locker.)

3. Android Upgrade Alliance

In one of the most talked-about moves at last year’s event, Google trotted out a long list of handset makers and carriers that were joining forces to ensure that Android devices received updates for a full 18 months after a device’s introduction, and also talked about narrowing that gap between when an operating system update is released and when it finds its way to existing phones.

Although I’m told that the effort continues, this is still a big problem in the Android ecosystem. Ice Cream Sandwich is just now making its way to many existing devices — that is, those getting the upgrade at all. This chart kind of says it all: Only about 7 percent of all Android devices are running Ice Cream Sandwich.

We’ve checked in with the various handset makers and carriers that are part of the group, and hope to have more to say on this front soon.

4. Android at Home

Danger co-founders Joe Britt and Matt Hershenson (now reunited with Andy Rubin at Google) took to the stage last year to talk about efforts to bring Android to a wide range of devices, from Android-compatible lightbulbs to Project Tungsten, Google’s plan for living-room devices. It’s hard to know how this one is faring, though there certainly haven’t been many announcements of commercially available devices. One home device expected to be shown this year is a Google-made media player.

5. Chromebooks

Day 2 of last year’s event was all about Chrome OS and how the browser-as-operating-system was ready for the world. Of course, the world hasn’t necessarily felt the same way. Aside from the free Chromebooks being handed out for a time on Virgin America flights, the devices remain rarely sighted in the wild.

That said, Google knew this would be a long-term bet, and has continued to plug away with the software and expand the hardware options. The most recent version of the software provides some desktop-like features for windows and file management, along with new desktop and laptop designs.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik