Innovations and their potential -- reflections on Google I/O 2013
I’m all charged up on Google having spent 3 days at Google I/O last week. The keynote has gotten a lot of attention and Google really showcased a lot of new technology. I’m looking forward to the rich APIs that will extend these innovations and make them more “Enterprise friendly.” One innovation in particular is very exciting. The GMail team demonstrated new functionality that extends GMail to enable actions in the Inbox using schemas. In fact, Esna was able to demonstrate these actions for attendees as we’ve integrated the new schemas into Officelinx.
I’ve thought about many of the announcements that were made and some of them were of particular interest to me:
Google already dominates in this sector and they are now reaching beyond just higher education. The new Chrome Store for Education enables teachers, students and parents to download apps by grade or subject. This is a long term investment by Google and all these kids will now grow up now in Chrome and using online apps. A great example shared at I/O was Malaysia’s push to adopt Google as a standard in their school system. Education seems to be a major focus area for Google and it’s a market segment Esna has had a lot of success in.
There are so many innovations built into Chrome. From WebRTC to speech, Google now enables enterprises to create their own private Chrome store. It really is becoming the new OS. With Chrome, Google will take over the desktops of PCs, Mobile, Kiosks, and consoles. Pretty soon, you will run Chrome on your Playstation, Wii and maybe even your Xbox. Already, Esna is leveraging the framework within Chrome to provide functionality like WebRTC and speech commands etc.
As Chrome continues to add features to its core, innovative companies like Esna will take advantage of these features to give users functionality they demand. The "fat client" is dead (or dying). Case in point: the I/O device giveaway this year was a Pixel Chromebook. To use it, I unboxed the Pixel, signed in with my Google account, and all my setting, extensions and the software that I had added to Chrome were pushed to my Pixel. No software to install. No work to be done. Nothing to restore. And this would be true with any PC with any OS if I log in to Chrome with my ID.
As a contrast, my daughter's MacBook had a hard drive failure while I was at I/O. My wife took it in and they backed up the data, installed a new drive and reloaded the OS. My daughter spent the last two days re-installing Office, Adobe and other apps needed for her schoolwork In the new world, the computer, the drive, OS and apps won’t be tied to the machine but rather to your account stored in Chrome.
Google is making a bigger push into payment systems. The Wallet pavilion was more prominent this year and with Google now offering the ability to “wire” money by GMail it’s going to become a more significant player in payments. While this is certainly a B2C play, there are implications for everyone. I see this as another segment of the market which can be disrupted by Google.
We’ve seen Paypal make a bigger push in businesses using their payment terminals and while Google has had NFC (Near Field Communication) chips in Android devices for a few years, there has not been a wide acceptance of these payment systems in merchants. I’m watching this area to see how Google proceeds.
It’s no secret the Android platform is very important to Google. Some of great innovations at I/O around Android involved emphasis on the Google Play Services environment. By supporting this environment, Google will help developers deal with the various versions of Android and the multitude of devices in the market. Apps will no longer have to worry about what version the user is carrying as Google Play Services will be maintained by Google to run on all devices.
Another interesting innovation centered around the enhancements made to the Google Cloud Messaging engine - it’s not a “messaging” solution, but rather a transport engine to carry messages to and from Android apps. It’s been enhanced to save battery life and now carries messages between servers and their Android client applications in both directions.
Finally, as a developer of Apps in the international market, I love the “crowd sourcing” translations option now built into the Android development environment. You upload your source and someone, somewhere, will pull them down, translate them in the language you want and send them back to you. Makes life easy! I have to wonder with all these innovations around Android, is there a barrier to Google making the Play Services work on IOS or Chrome and thereby making all Android apps work on all or any environment? It seems Google may be headed in that direction. Something to keep our eye on.
This solution has just become a whole lot more interesting. It was always an amazing solution, and now it’s been enhanced to merge all your instant messaging and SMS environments into a single solution that also allows for multi-party chat or video chat.
One potential issue for enterprises is that the chat standards being adopted by enterprises is XMPP and Hangouts (which will replace Talk eventually) plans to drop XMPP. It’s unclear at this time if an organization will have a option of keeping Talk instead of Hangouts if XMPP is important to them. This may be OK, as long as Google provides rich APIs for an eco-system to grow around the new Hangouts app.
There’re a lot of new functions in Drive and it’s becoming not only a place where you can keep your files, but also where the apps you use can keep their data. Drive is highly extensible to let developers really innovate around it. Esna has a lot of plans around Drive which we will be launching in the next six months. Drive has the potential to be the killer app in enterprises. It can make life incredibly easy for users and administrators and with talk of Quick Office being launched as a native Chrome app, enterprises will have no reason to stay in Microsoft Office.
There’s so much going on at Google. My big ask is that they provide APIs to developers sooner rather than later. There’s a lot we want to do with the new capabilities announced at I/O, but there aren’t APIs for all of them yet. While Esna is a trusted tester in many of Google’s solutions, we are itching to do more and do it faster.