I am so excited the time has come for Google I/O to kick off for the second year in our backyard, with thousands of developers coming to join hundreds of Google engineers as we geek out on tech in a festival atmosphere. I have already been at several pre-events, and what blows me away the most about conferences like this is how international they are. With all that is going on in the world, it feels great to come together as one. An immense amount of work goes into putting on the event, crafting great content for developers, and of course building the products that come to life. This isn’t just about the products that we build at Google, but a ton of partners work incredibly hard to get things ready to showcase platforms and ecosystems.
As I reflect on what I am most proud about this year, one theme is exactly this: working together with partners and ecosystems. We are fortunate enough to have a few large and mature platforms out there such as Android and the Web, and each is still pushing the boundaries and innovating. We also have new platforms and extensions that tie together our own services as well as these ecosystems. I have seen an increased effort to unifying and working together where it makes sense. For example, running Android apps on ChromeOS, running Web apps as first class experiences via PWA, having immersive reality (VR and AR) come to various platforms, and glueing things together with IoT and Actions on Google.
Computing is unbundling, and individual components have more wiggle room and ability to connect and compose with each other. These connections are supported by empowering glue such as Cloud Functions, and machine learning is there to make experiences work optimally for uses. When mobile first hit, much of the UX hit was around coming up with the right interaction on the small device and how it tied into the context it now had about you (from your location to your contacts). Now, the best experiences take that attention to detail, and they marry it with smarter services. Google Photos is a canonical example that has a very nice UI for sure, but the magic is in how I can search for [my son in green when he was four] and get results. Slack has done a great job with their UI, but it was their search functionality that originally won me over from Campfire. It is becoming a given that you should be thinking about how you can best use data to up level your experiences. We have a lot of talks on TensorFlow from beginner to advanced, but we also have many APIs that do the work for you (e.g. vision APIs). You don’t have to take a linear algebra course again to get started (but I recommend this fun way of doing so!).
Not Just Invented Here
I am really excited to hear how Android developers react to the Kotlin announcement today. I have heard developers ask about our support for such as long time, I am really excited to let them know that we are standing by it. I first used Kotlin several years back when I was frustrated at the level of Java language support, and it is a fantastic modern language. Since then the community has grown, and it has broadened its targets. I am so happy that we have embraced this rather than trying to do something new for the sake of it. We have a lot of great information on how to get started.
Beyond Kotlin, we have great new improvements in the tools and SDKs. The new architecture components such as the lifecycle management helpers are going to save so much time (and frustration). Chet, Tor, and Romain are going to have a whale of a time on stage this year showing off all the goodness. This has been the best developer-focused Android release in awhile, and this is just the start for Kotlin and these developer tools.
All boats rising
The Web has always been about community and shared evolution. It is the democracy that, yes requires compromise and working together, but results in shared change that doesn’t give too much power to a particular entity. This year we see the Web innovate faster than ever, resulting in great new experiences such as Twitter’s new PWA that comes in at a tiny bundle to get going quickly and picks up steam from there. And then there is the amazing Wego experience. The story behind that is particularly fun, as an app developer picked up Polymer (2.0 just released!) and two months later had it up and running.
We have new tools to help you take your web experience to the next level. Lighthouse 2.0 was announced and now comes baked into Chrome DevTools, and Workbox takes our battle tested sw-toolbox and sw-precache and packages it in a nicer bundle that lets you pick and choose what you want to bring service workers to your app. But again, it isn’t about what we are doing. Microsoft talked about their support for PWAs at Build last week, and other browser vendors are working with us to support the latest and greatest as soon as possible. Outside of the browsers, the framework and app developers are busy working on how to optimize for the constraints and opportunities of mobile, whilst also getting their support to desktop and other (sometimes surprising!) form factors. The Web continues to be about reaching out to all of your users and meeting them where they are.
Reaching the full bundle
As the mature platforms continue to push the bar, we are seeing other form factors come to life too. Whether it be Actions on Google that can reach users through their Google Home, phones (and more!) giving you multi-modal access to services at the flick of a voice or text gesture, immersive new VR and AR experiences, or Android Things packaging IoT in a manner that makes it incredibly approachable and powerful.
Bringing it together
This year we brought Fabric together with Firebase, and today we are open sourcing more of the product (with more coming!) right as we add new functionality across the platform, including large new initiatives such as Firebase Performance.
What I love about Firebase is how it brings you the best tools to help you build your applications, all packed with a top notch API console and SDKs that work together.
This is all the tip of the iceberg. Unifying the unbundle, together is the cheesiest thing I have written in some time, but that is what I see when I look at where things are coming together this year. All platforms innovating quickly, but coming together where it makes sense to solve problems.
All the prep is done, now the fun part…. getting to meet old friends and new at Google I/O.
If you can’t be here in person or at an I/O Extended event, please tune in, and we are bringing more Google Developer Days to you this year!
together computing unbundles
and then we all unify.” — Stephen Colbert