Enterprise Mobility: Android, Chromebook Questions Stick Around After Google I/O
I Screaming for Ice Cream Sandwich
Ice Cream Sandwich is great in theory. Google will build the operating system, presumably called Android 2.4, with Honeycomb's 3D holographics, application fragments and other features. Great, but these features were designed specifically for the larger screen real estate of a tablet. How will they work on a smartphone, where the real estate is at best one half and in most cases one-third the size of a tablet screen? Moreover, has Google really solved Androids nagging version fragmentation problem with the development of Ice Cream Sandwich? Honeycomb 3.1 is on the Xoom and presumably coming to the Tab 10.1, 8.9 and other Android slates. Will smartphone versions of Android after Ice Cream Sandwich continue to include Honeycomb 3.x features? Will Google create a new Android arc for every new device that comes out? This could cripple the cluttered ecosystem developers are already grousing about.
Google I/O served as the launching pad for major news announcements in the past, with Google Wave unveiled in 2009 and Google TV premiering in 2010. Wave is dead and the jury is out on Google TV, which is unlikely to go away anytime soon. The search engine has a lot riding on Google TV because it uses the Android and Chrome-based platform as its main vehicle for porting YouTube to consumers' living rooms. Perhaps the biggest news out of the fourth annual Google I/O developer conference earlier this month was that Google gave out 5,000-plus Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 devices and 5,000-plus Chromebooks to the show attendees. Okay, that might be a bit simplistic. Google had a lot of interesting things to say. On May 10, we learned about the impending launch of Android 3.1 "Honeycomb," the confirmation of the next Android smartphone build, dubbed "Ice Cream Sandwich, and some developer APIs for open access and the Android@Home initiative. On May 11, we learned that the long-awaited, much-ballyhooed Samsung and Acer Google Chromebooks will launch June 15. Consumers can snap them up online from Best Buy and Amazon.com. But Google will also sell businesses and schools Chromebooks on a subscription basis for $28 and $20 per user, per month, respectively. Google told us a lot about these new products, partnerships and initiatives. But this eWEEK slide show runs through some key questions that remain unanswered in the wake of Google I/O.