5 things I would like to see at Google IO

Lots of rumours and leaks has been making the rounds for the upcoming Google IO 2013 event. But there are things that has not been mentioned which I want Google to sort out and get done. So here are my 5 most wanted things that I want Google to (unlikely) announced at Google IO 2013.

Warning: Long post
TL;DR
1. Backup and Restore Data for Android
2. Find my Device / Remote Wipe for Android
3. Android Apps on Chrome
4. Nexus Q - Part 2?
5. Improve Currents to become the new Google Reader

1. Backup and Restore Data for Android

I cannot believe there is no simple solution for this. This is the main reason why I root my Android phone. If I get a new phone or tablet and reinstall my application, some apps restore my data and some apps do not. There is so much inconsistencies on how this is handled which needs to be sorted out.

The main culprits are games (Angry Birds anyone) where you pick up a new device but then all your high scores are gone and your level progression. The Rumoured Google Play Games goo.gl/cnguQ should sort that out but this should be system wide. 

As Larry Page was quoted in his Q3 earnings goo.gl/6DpWw he said:

Users want one consistent, beautiful and simple Google experience. Technology should do all the hard work, liberating users to get on with the important things that matter in their lives. And this screen independence is at the core of our strategy.

He also points out:

Take Chrome on Android, for example. We only launched in February (2012) but the experience is already amazing. When you are using Chrome, switching devices is truly painless. All your tabs are there, ready to go. Search on your desktop and the result is right there on your smartphone. You can even click the back button, and it just works.

So the CEO of Google acknowledges this problem and the potential opportunities this brings, so hopefully they fix this or show something that can make Android decoupled from devices. Maybe the new head of Android, Sundar Pichai could help on this...

Note: There is an API on Android to do this but the last time I looked it was pretty flawed. Also it requires code which the developer could customise and perform things in an inconsistent manner. It also means the developers may choose not to implement it. I think a Google service should handle it. How it does is beyond my imagination... goo.gl/9ApOf

Note 2: There is an Issue Tracker for this, Issue 17831 opened in June 20th 2011. Come on Google lets get this sorted once and for all before KLP hits:
https://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=17831


2. Find my Device / Remote Wipe for Android

Another feature which I cannot believe is not in Android. We bring our devices everywhere that it is so easy to lose. At the moment in order for us to find our device or to remote wipe we have to rely on third party apps. My question is why?

Google are kings of Cloud services. They should have had this feature in Android a long time back. And now I think it is even more important. Reason, two factor authentications.

Everyone knows that having two pieces of security information is better than one. A piece of information that you remember (password) and a piece of information you have on you (token). Google and other companies has gone the route of using your smartphones to give you the token piece of information either through an SMS message or an Application token generator. The flaw, to get that piece of information you need your phone.

If you lose your phone, the thief now has one of your security information. But actually they may have two. Let me explain. Badly designed applications could store passwords as clear text on your Android device. If someone is clever enough, they could find this password. But you ask the question, this password is not from a Google Service and is from XYZ app. That’s maybe correct, however ask yourself this question, how many people use the same password for different web services?

Google just released a roadmap for the next 5 years, http://goo.gl/DFLnS that is based on this two factor authentication (and other stuff but I won’t go into that). This is in my opinion the best thing to handle your web identity however if you are going to use smartphones as information you have on you, you need a system in place that deals with the potential of losing that information. A remote wipe is an easy solution to have, it will take an Google person maybe a week max to write the code for it, so in my opinion it is a no brainer.

3. Android Apps on Chrome

Now this is a biggy for me. Chrome OS is cool. I think it is the future of computing but it has 2 major flaws:

1. You need a data connection to do anything useful
2. You can only run web applications.

Now the solution to the above is actually simple. MAKE BETTER CHROME APPS!

Both point 1 and 2 can be sorted out through the use of Native Client:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Native_Client. What this allows is basically writing applications in C++ within chrome. Adding HTML5 ability for local storage you can basically make any complex applications. The problem, have many people heard of this? Who are actually developing for this? The answer is not many.

Now lets flip it around. What if Chrome had native support for Davik? What is Davik? Well it is only the engine that powers Android applications.

The possibilities are now endless. Not only Davik is more matured than Native Client, but you could fire up Chrome and run virtually any Android applications on it. This could turn Chrome and Chrome OS into a game changer. Why, because you now have decent applications to run on Chrome, not to mention 700K apps already available.

But if you think a bit harder you see some more opportunities. Chrome is all about device agnostic. You pick up a chromebook, you log in and everything is there from where you last used it. Now that does not necessary happen when you use Android, which becomes a problem if you include Chrome applications. But if Google implements my first point regarding “Backup and Restore Data for Android” you start to see the power of this. Maybe Google Drive will come into play but if you tightly coupled your data around your products you start to see the potential. Maybe this is something Larry Page was thinking back in 2012.

4. Nexus Q - Part 2?

This was one big flop from IO 2012. No one got it. It cost like $299 US dollars and it pretty much did nothing. Google’s problem here was that it never explained it well and therefore did not get developers excited (also the huge price tag).

However I saw something interesting with this product. The Nexus Q in my opinion is the future but it was just beyond its time and maybe we will see a part 2, hopefully a much cheaper options. This is why.

When you watch TV what is your main goal? Is it playing games? Is it answering emails? Maybe checking FB? No, the simple answer is watch great TV.

Companies has been trying to develop Smart TVs with so much crapware and apps that gets in the way of enjoying TV. Why? I never understood it. However I do see the attraction of a Hub that allows you to pour content into your TV where and when you need it.

What the Nexus Q should have been was a hub. A station that connected all the magnitude of devices. Your phone, your tablet, your Google Play services, your home PC and probably your STB. Then the hub will be able to push content directly to the TV. But there should not be a dedicated interface on the TV. That should come from your phone or tablet.

The phone or tablet should form a new kind of remote control, which acts as your main input to the hub. You should be able to browse a whole host of content and when you find something to see you can push it directly to your TV. This solves one problem with Smart TV where you block what is on TV by showing a lot of crap.

By decoupling a dedicated smart TV functionality towards the hub allows you to do all sorts of stuff independent of the TV. You could potentially have all your TV’s in your house connected to a main hub with access to all your content on your multitude of devices.

5. Improve Currents to become the new Google Reader

A few months back Google killed Reader. It caused all sorts of outrage across the web. People relied on it to get their news. There are alternatives out there but the real power of Google Reader was Google ability to index the web. 

Reader worked on the back of its crawlers. When someone makes a change to their website, Google are able to crawl it quickly. This meant that the RSS feeds could be updated quickly, hence why lots of services used Google Reader for its back end.

Now with that lost, what can replace it? Step up Google Currents.

Google's magazine type application is in my opinion so similar to Reader that it so easily can replace Reader. It can already consume RSS feeds and it has a better reading interface then Reader. So what needs to be added to Currents that can make it a replacement for Reader.

1. Create a web app. At the moment you can only use it on phones and tablets.
2. Shortcuts similar to Reader. This kind of only applies to the web app.
3. Reader type layouts. At the moment, Currents only displays feeds in a Flipboard magazine layout. They can so easily add an option to show a headline only view.

There maybe more features to migrate, but truly they don't have to do much. And also with the rumoured Google Play News goo.gl/Ed6Cy, it makes sense to get Currents functionality up to the standard that would encourage users to use it more.

#io13

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