Random Thoughts

Google, Android, and the Future

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(Full Disclosure: I own stock in Google)

The more I read about what Google launched at Google IO a couple of weeks ago the more I’m convinced that I’m going to continue to love Google and its products as well as where they are taking us into the future. 

HTC Incredible S3 weeks ago I traded in my iPhone 3G for an HTC Incredible S that had just been released in Taiwan and I haven’t looked back. The speed, the form factor, the 8MB camera on the back and 1.3MB camera on the front…and an open platform. 

I bought my wife an HTC Desire a year ago and we both fell in love with it. It was my wife’s first Smartphone and she was nervous at first about figuring it out. 2 weeks later she couldn’t live without it. 

When it comes to Android what I love is that because it’s open-source companies can take the base product and put their own spin on it. I love what HTC has done with their HTC Sense interface on top of Android, it really gives it a polished finish that rivals any iPhone. 

I also like the idea of widgets that you can put on the screens. I’m all about reducing my clicks, and having my calendar, contacts, and friend stream always open saves mini-seconds of time throughout the day that add up. 

But what I think excites me most about Google and Android is the future. 

At its recent Google IO conference they talked about Android@Home where they are releasing open APIs that companies can use to build into their home products like refrigerators, light switches, sound systems, etc. If companies adopt the standard then smart-appliances are in our not to distance future….and again because Android is open it basically could runs in the background allowing each company to put their own look and feel to the user interface (UI)

Then there is what Google continues to do with automobiles. We already know they have a car that can drive itself, but now they’re partnering with Ford to make our cars even smarter. 

Open Wins

Google has shown again that creating open platforms in the long run win out. There are now more Android phones in the US than iPhones and it’s predicted that by July there will be more Android apps than iPhone Apps

Then there’s the app building piece which, I’m not sure if they did this on purpose or not but looks and acts a lot like Scratch the MIT game building software.

So a school could have a computer game building class one year and the next year have an App building class where the skills build on each other (please tell me there are schools out there doing this?).

Wikipedia beat Encarda, Linux is the backbone of the Internet, Blogs beat newspapers, and Twitter is taking down nightly news.

In the long run open wins, it gives people choice and allows for creativity. 

The Importance of Failing

I also love the fact that Google takes chances and fails…and not little chances…big chances. Google Wave, Google TV (so far), Google Buzz, all products that Google hasn’t had a hit with…and that’s OK. 

When you’re pushing, when you’re being innovative, you’re gonna have failures….and I for one like to celebrate those. Good companies (and teachers) can fail big, get back up and try something else.

Constant Beta

I really wish I could convince educational leaders in this notion (as I wrote here). Google products are always in constant Beta. They still make somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 tweaks to Google Search. Google Docs is constantly getting updates and tweaks, and the same goes for Chrome, Maps, Android, and most other products. They are constantly innovating, seeing what works what doesn’t. Building on the positive and throwing out the negative. 

Teachers do this daily with their students, constantly adjusting to student needs, what’s working, what’s not….however are we doing it at an organizational level? Or is education “good enough” and we’ll continue to build curriculum like we’ve always done.

I’m excited for the future….I don’t know where all this is going, what my home will look like in 5 years, what this device I’m typing on will look like in 5 years….but I’m excited to see where it’s all going to lead. 

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. Matt Seigal Reply

    How are you Jeff?

    I still enjoy using Android on my Nexus One. The open hacking philosophy has been a great learning tool. I’m running Cyanogenmod 7.0 and love the flexibility of being able to plug the device into a computer so it is a mountable USB drive.

    I’ve also bought an IPad 2 for my technophobic wife and myself. She hates my phone because I keep getting the sound profile wrong or the galleries get laggy. The apps sometimes cause the system to go slow or crash. I have to keep my phone’s wifi turned on all the time or I will need to flash a new radio to get it to work again.

    Before she had an Ipad she didn’t know to write an Email or surf the Internet. She finds it very easy and enjoyable to use. Plus, my two year old son is also a quick learner. I’m enjoying the Ipad too, but miss the power of widgets and hacking though I don’t waste so much time tinkering though the apps are much more polished and varied on IOS. I wish swype worked on the ipad though the screen is very responsive.

    So there is now a clear choice between open, fun and ragged (Android) or slick and easy to use (IOS). But I think there is enormous potential for teachers and students to use tablets and mobile devices in the school space to transform reading, notetaking, media capture and consumption. Exciting times!

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  4. While you love HTC Sense, I can’t stand it. It causes the phones to be laggy (IMO) and you don’t get updates as quickly (since HTC has to update Sense before it pushes updates). But that’s the great thing about Android…everyone isn’t locked into one look. Each phone has it’s own things that make it unique. And what’s even better is, if you want to change the look and feel of your phone, they’re relatively easy to root and change. I tried half a dozen custom ROMs on my two android phones just to get something fresh without having to buy a new phone.

    I love that Google’s approach to this product, and it’s no wonder it’s taking over as the most popular mobile OS.

  5. I completely agree with you on your opinion here. I also believe that Droids are superior to iPhones. I used to be completely stubborn, and I believed that iPhone and other Apple phones would always be the next step above droid, but as I see fact-based opinions like these and I see the sales results, I can tell you I’m definitely looking forward to the next droid release rather than the surprise iPhone 5 release coming within the next week. Glad to see educated people finally share my opinion on something technology related! Thanks for the post, I really appreciated your opinion.

  6. I agree with you. I have a Droid Incredible and I love it. I also enjoy how you can add the widgets; they really help save time instead of going through everything that you have downloaded on your phone. Another thing that I like is how you can have a “friend stream”. You can add certain people to your favorites, and then they will show up on the “friend stream”. Something that you have taught me is that I didn’t know that there were more Android phones then iPhones. Also, I didn’t know that by July there would be more Android apps then iPhone apps. I have never heard of some of the things that you blogged about, but they all seem really cool. You did a great job. I love your website(:

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