App Industry Roundup: Google TV and the Android update

May 21, 2010
Tech

In this special edition of App Industry News, we look at all the news Google has been making this week. That includes some perspective on Google’s new Apple-bashing star, what Google TV means for the Android OS, and what you can expect from the coming Android update. Why the world needs Android, according to Google […]

In this special edition of App Industry News, we look at all the news Google has been making this week. That includes some perspective on Google’s new Apple-bashing star, what Google TV means for the Android OS, and what you can expect from the coming Android update.

Why the world needs Android, according to Google

 A star is on the rise at Google, an executive unafraid to publicly rip the search giant’s hottest competitor — Apple. His name is Vic Gundotra and he’s Google’s vice president of engineering. He gave the Thursday keynote at Google’s I/O event, and spent much of his speech ripping Apple. (Do you think Eric Schmidt was smiling? Or perhaps pulling the puppet strings?)

That last line is probably not fair but Gundotra was not shy while he talked (ripped?) about Apple. Gundotra is a smooth, captivating public speaker and clearly a fine voice for Google. And yes, a bit melodramatic. He kicked off his speech (after the usual pleasantries) talking about how consumers faced “a Draconian future” controlled by one choice and one device (as a background video flashed an unflattering picture of Steve Jobs) if Google didn’t embrace and push Android. “That’s a future we don’t want,” he said, as the crowd applauded so enthusiastically one would think Jobs was talking. “If you believe in innovation from everyone, than welcome to Android.”

In VentureBeat, Paul Boutin notes that Gundotra spent much of his carrier at Microsoft, “where he got software developers to put down their seething hatred for anything Bill Gates touched and actually try Windows Live.” There is even speculation that Gundrota could be the next top executive at Google, a notion Boutin doesn’t see as likely. “But he’s certainly the guy to put in front of the geeks,” he writes. 

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Gundotra is smooth. Take a look.

Here comes Google TV. Will we watch?

The Android OS is of course on many, many phones and it will arrive very soon on new netbooks. Now, Android will be coming to your living room TV as well thanks to what’s called Google TV.

It is a logical step, of course, as makers of slick new HDTVs and Blu-ray players have been adding wireless Internet connections that allow people to stream content onto thier TVs. Heck, I have two devices in my living room that already allows me to watch streamed Netflix movies — a $150 Insignia (Best Buy’s house brand) Blu-ray player and a Wii. 

But Google TV promises to be a more robust offering than what we’ve seen so far in the connected TV space. For one, it puts the Chrome browser and Android OS on your TV, accessed through an HDMI cable and special Google set-top box. You’ll be able to stream content from sites like Hulu, YouTube (duh!) and Bob’s family website, where you can watch as Bob uploads cute videos of his kids. 

Apparently, the demo at the I/O conference wasn’t very smooth and it led to more questions about the service than answers. Sony, Intel and Best Buy all signed on as partners, but a release date for the product remains unclear at the moment.

Android update coming soon

Finally, Google said that version 2.2 of the mobile Android OS will be available soon. Dubbed Froyo (huh, why not Frodo?), the update will allow for device tethering and full Flash support. (Insert Steve Jobs jab here.)

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What’s unclear is whether or not existing devices will be able to upgrade to the new software. The growing cadre of HTC fan boys (and, um, I’m raising my hand) have started to speculate on which HTC phones will get the upgrade. The feeling is that all 2010 models — such as the Incredible (Verizon) and Evo (Sprint) — will get the upgrade, but no one knows for sure when that will happen.

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Eric Benderoff

Eric Benderoff is the principal of BendableMedia.com, an editorial services firm, and a founding member of the Appolicious content strategy team. His personal technology column for the Chicago Tribune has appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide. He is a regular guest on Chicago's WGN Radio and is a frequent commentator about consumer technology on national TV news programs.

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