Google’s top-brass got up on stage following this morning’s keynote for a quick Q&A session that we definitely had to check out. Want to know what Andy Rubin and company had to say about today’s announcements? Hit the jump to read find out!
Q: When are we going to see a general release of Honeycomb?
A: Just for background: we did an internal trick to meet the Honeycomb schedule, we didn’t make it available for phones. So we held back the open sourcing of Honeycomb back so people wouldn’t put it on phones and have a crappy experience… but now that it is done. Ice Cream will be the next open source release and that will be this year.
Q: With the music service, how does this ensure that you sell music? How are handling licensing issues?
A: What you saw today becomes a very compelling platform for music distribution. It is in our plans to sell their artists music, unfortunately, some of there terms thus far have been unsustainable and unscalable. The majority of the industry are very excited about the possibilities, we continue to be committed to where this can go. What we launched today is a completely legal service, it is storing content you own, in the cloud with enhancements. We just enable a much more convenient experience.
Q: Are we going to get a Honeycomb phone? Will the device updates be faster?
A: Ice Cream Sandwich is when phones will get the Honeycomb features, so that will be like a merge. A phone is eligible to get updates for 18 months as the platform versions appear. There is no minimum time frame to announce at this time.
Q: Can you talk about the business uses for Honeycomb tablets? Is it still just consumer based?
A: I think it is appealing to both. I use my laptop a lot less now and rely on my tablet to do most of my work email. I think the tablet experience really does make a strong business case and we have some new features including encryption and device management to address those crowds.
Q: What changed that incentivizes these carrier to now update quicker?
A: I think everyone really values the ecosystem. What we realized is that there was no common set of expectations set. We think of ourselves of the coordinators of all this, and we really want to provide the services our customers want. They want upgrades.
Q: What does Ice Cream Sandwich delivery other than unification?
A: Our primary job is to make Android run on all devices. Unfortunately, I can’t pre-announce them, but we’ll but we’ll be rolling them out shortly.
Q: Do you anticipate them being any new hardware requirements for Ice Cream? Are you preparing another Google Device for the Ice Cream rollout?
A: We want all phones to run Ice Cream, not just new phones. The Nexus has been the device we’ve used to set the bar. The market works in cycles that revolves around the holidays and summertime. We’ll make an announcement in the future.
Q: Why is Music Beta only launching in the U.S.?
A: It is really hard to do global launches. It’s hard to sit in a lab and try and anticipates the world’s needs. The goal is to make it as widely adopted as possible. We have no intentions to keep this just to the U.S. once we have the kinks worked out.
Q: What is the quality of the streaming music coming down from the cloud?
A: We stream up to 320kbps, and that’s based on the quality of the file you upload. We do adjust that based on your network connection while you’re listening.
Q: Microsoft has been talking about the digital home for two decades but nothing has happened. Why is Google@Home different?
A: We look at it a little differently. We’re not trying to invent the next killer application, we’re trying to turn everything in your home into an I/O device at an extremely low cost. We’re counting on the imagination of the developers to really develop this ecosystem.
Q: What is the time table for some of appliances or devices? What does a manufacturer have to put into its electronics to enable it?
A: We’re not quite ready to announce what the technology is, but it is very low cost. It’s wireless, not Wi-Fi. It’s low power. It involves a software stack and a small piece of hardware. We should see these devices by the end of this year. We’re working with partners to get them embedded into their current devices.
Q: How do you reconcile some of these new services with shrinking data allowances from carriers?
A: We go through these cycles. And right now we’re going through a cycle where there is heavy network congestion. The next technology step, be it LTE or 5G, will alleviate a lot of these problems. Also, most of the consumption will happen at the workplace or at home, so that will solve some of the issue.
Q: Why did you choose to create a different protocol for Android@Home? How does this relate to the smart grid?
A: First, we haven’t announced what we’re using, so it could be anything. *laughter* Energy monitoring is extremely interesting, but you need to have granularity. You need to know what is chewing up kilowatt hours, not just that you’re chewing up kilowatt hours. [Not sure why, but the answerer and questioner stopped talking. Guess that’s the end of the answer.]
Q: How much do you really think about Apple when you put out these services since you not-so-subtly mentioned Apple?
A: We were just trying to have a little fun. It’s great to have companies competing for the hearts and minds of developers. When that happens, consumers are the ones who win.
Q: Is there any way to report pirated materials?
A: We make it very clear in the terms-of-service that users need to upload legal material. We’ll respond to requests from rights owners as necessary.
Q: Is the XOOM getting preferential treatment?
A: The XOOM is new, I think it is only two months old — the power of Android is that it isn’t a single product. Knowing what I know internally, we’re going to see some really interesting things coming really soon.
Q: Will the upgrades be international or U.S. only? Sometimes similar devices have not gotten upgrades as quick as their U.S. counterparts.
A: We hope for this Android Alliance to be international, you saw Vodafone on the slides from earlier today. We want this to be a global thing and we’re working to do that.
Q: What is your stance on UIs like TouchWiz and Sense?
A: Android was designed to be customizable and scalable from the beginning. The benefit is that the framework is smart enough to consistent across hardware. I don’t believe in having an open platform that commoditizes industries, I think allowing skins is really important. I think it is an important selling point of Android.
Q: Does Android have a malware problem?
A: We have our sandbox technology on our device side and we are looking into technology on our Market site that will help mitigate these issues. Last time something snuck through it took us 50 minutes to catch it. We’re working to tune that, but it’s important to note that we are not going to achieve our security goals by “locking down” the platform.