Today Google announced Wave – a new tool to organize all your online communications. During the demonstration, they showed off a mobile version running in the browser on Android and iPhone. I was absolutely blown away by the potential of Wave, but I was curious if we would see a native app on our phones.
Shortly after the keynote, there was a press conference and we were allowed to ask questions to the Wave team, Vic Gundotra, and Sergey Brin. Since I’m an Android fanatic, I had to ask about the possibility of seeing an official native app for Android or iPhone. To summarize their response, “No”.
Google touted that Wave was developed entirely with the Google Web Toolkit and fully utilized HTML5. They envision the web as the platform of the future and the browser is becoming more like the operating system. By creating web only apps, they can bypass all the time it takes to write native code for Android and iPhone. This also means that all their new web apps will be readily available on Palm’s WebOS.
Another advantage of focusing on mobile browser apps is choice for the end user. Several carriers have expressed interest in releasing Android phones that are free of Google. If all the apps are available on the web, the user can still access their favorite Google services directly from the browser. Carriers could always block the Google domains, but I doubt users will stand for walled gardens anymore.
So what does this mean for Android users? Will we see Google release any new native apps for Android? I have been eagerly waiting to see native apps for Adsense, Analytics, Reader, and more. After this week, it looks like I may be waiting a long time. Instead of spending time on native apps for Android, Google will create mobile browser apps that work across multiple platforms.
We have already witnessed this strategy with the recent updates to mobile Gmail. New features were first released on the mobile site, then weeks later the native app got an update. However, the mobile browser version still offers functionality not available in the Android client. Today’s unveiling of Wave just continues the same pattern.
So is all hope lost for native Google apps on Android? The answer to that question lies with the community. Either we whine to Google or we create the native apps on our own. A quick search of the Market and you will find people doing just that. Developers have already created Android versions of Adsense and Analytics.
Check out the official video of the Wave keynote and let us know what you think.