Only two months ago, Andy Rubin stepped down from his position with Android, and head of Chrome, Sundar Pichai, took the reigns. Since then Pichai has been quiet, undoubtedly hard at work organizing Google’s upcoming developer conference, Google I/O. Not too busy, though, to sit down with Wired for his first interview since taking the position of Android lead, sharing his thoughts on where Android and its partners stand and setting some expectations for Google I/O.
With Google I/O right around the corner, speculation as to what we’ll see has been all over the board. From new hardware to new apps, services and an updated version of Android, Pichai opened up to Wired on what to expect from Google I/O and much more. Speaking on I/O specifically, Pichai said:
It’s going to be different. It’s not a time when we have much in the way of launches of new products or a new operating system. Both on Android and Chrome, we’re going to focus this I/O on all of the kinds of things we’re doing for developers, so that they can write better things. We will show how Google services are doing amazing things on top of these two platforms.Sundar PichaiGoogle
In other words, keep your expectations for the developer conference realistic. We still expect to see Google Play Games, whatever Babble turns out to be, a new version of Jelly Bean and possibly a new Nexus 7, but Key Lime Pie, the Nexus 5 or any other similar new hardware will most likely be saved for the fall. It’s important to remember that I/O is a developer event first and foremost; anything Google does for its developers directly impacts the quality of software we all use today. Even if nothing major is announced (we still think what’s on deck is going to be a big deal), there’s still plenty to be excited about.
Pichai also talked about various Android partners, like Samsung and Amazon, and where he sees Android heading. On Samsung, Pichai says that, much like Motorola, they are just another partner. He says that Android’s relationship with Samsung “gets played up in the press a lot.” What Android and Google may say of Samsung’s dominance in private is one thing, but publicly, they’re “a great partner to work with.”
He said similar things about Amazon and Facebook, making it clear that while Google would prefer for everyone to work on one version of Android, they aren’t looking to prevent it. Google wants developers big and small to be able to utilize Android to the fullest. Whether that’s simply making hardware for stock Android or creating new experiences with Facebook Home, that flexibility is important. But so is creating a consistent consumer experience, which could translate to changes down the road.
Finally, there’s where Pichai sees Android heading. There’s been a lot of talk on whether or not we’ll eventually see Chrome and Android merge. That doesn’t appear to be likely any time soon, and it doesn’t need to be. You don’t need a complete merging of platforms with the flexibility of the cloud and web. Google has created an ecosystem that spans devices and platforms. Thanks to services like Drive and Gmail, all your files are already available on whatever platform you choose. Android and Chrome don’t need to be merged into one operating system to create a relatively seamless experience between the two. Pichai will be embracing this separate but united approach, a move he thinks will be best for developers and consumers alike.
We expect to hear much more from Pichai on everything Google at I/O in two days.