Ahead of Google I/O officially kicking off tomorrow, Google’s head of Android Sundar Pichai recently sat down with Bloomberg Businessweek for an extensive, in-depth interview. The talk covered a variety of things, including Pichai’s history growing up in India and moving to the United States. It also talked in detail about the general relationship between Pichai, former head of Android Andy Rubin, and other departments of Google. Most importantly, however, Picahi discussed what we will see the company unveil at I/O this week.
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Firstly, Pichai talked about Google’s ventures with set-top boxes and TV operating systems. Pichai said that he believes Google TV was a good initial step for Google in terms of TV, but that there is much more the company can do. Bloomberg claims that at I/O this week, Google will officially introduce Android TV. Pichai remarked that looking across televisions today presents a very fragmented experience with no consistent tools for developers. Presumably, Google will hope to unify this experience with Android TV.
We will have more to say about Android TV… We look across televisions and it’s no different from how smartphones were. It was very fragmented, with different underlying operating systems… and no consistent way for developers to target across the breadth of smartphones, etcetera. We see same things with televisions.
I think it is going to be hard for individual OEMs to create a platform on top of which people will write content and services and which users will transact. If you buy content and services from your television, do you expect it to work on your tablet? If I bought something on my tablet, do I expect it to seamlessly run on my television? That’s the power that Android and an end-to-end experience can provide… It will work across everything.
Next, Pichai also discussed wearables and Google’s recently announced Android Wear platform. Pichai remarked that the company will, of course, discuss wearables at the event. The company will also announce manufacturing partners and devices that are compatible with Android Wear. Pichai discussed the importance of people keeping track of their health on a regular basis and how its “crazy” that people on do so at the doctor’s office. It is believed that Google will give out the LG G Watch to Google I/O attendees, as well.
He’ll also talk about Android Wear, a version of the operating system for fitness trackers and wearable computers, and he’ll announce new manufacturing partners and devices. Google is racing against Apple, which will introduce its iWatch in the fall. Pichai says it’s “crazy” that people visit their doctors at most once a year to have their heart rate and blood pressure measured. “You obviously need to be able to measure these things so many more times and then apply more intelligence to it,” he says.
Finally, and most importantly, Pichai talked about the next version of Android. Normally, Google announces and releases a new version of Android in the Fall. This year, however, the company will preview it at I/O this week and release it later this year. This is something very similar to what Apple does with iOS. Last night, we saw some early leaked images of the “L” release of Android, although they didn’t show much.
This year, Pichai will preview the next release (Lollipop? Lemonhead?) for the first time at I/O rather than waiting until the fall. It’s a significant shift toward greater transparency. “I want the world to understand what we are doing sooner,” he says.