20
Oct 11

Zigging when Apple zags

Sometimes Google seems to do some extraordinary acrobatics just to prove it isn’t Apple.

Speaking at the All Things Digital conference in Asia yesterday, Andy Rubin made it a point out their difference in philosophy.

1. He doesn’t believe in tablet-specific apps. All apps should work on a phone and scale up.

2. He doesn’t believe the phone should be an assistant. “You shouldn’t be communicating with the phone — you should be communicating with somebody on the other side of the phone,” he said.

Statements like these diminish Google, mostly because they fly in the face of common sense. Rubin makes it sound like it’s more important to dismiss Apple’s advances than it is to move forward.

His view on tablet-specific apps appears to be a defense for the Android Marketplace having so few of them. That number has been cited as anywhere from 300 to 3,000 — whatever, it’s way less than Apple’s 140,000.

Obviously, many apps can scale perfectly well from a phone to a tablet if they’re written to do so. Just as obviously, there’s a big difference between a 4-inch screen and a 10-inch screen. Though many apps can successfully scale, common sense says that a bigger screen opens up new possibilities. Otherwise, we’d all be running phone apps on our 27-inch screens too.

To be dismissive of Siri is to appear almost Luddite-ish. Even in its beta form, Siri is shaping up to be a monster hit. Again, common sense. It’s infinitely easier to say “Set alarm for 8am” than it is to go through the normal routine. Controlling the phone’s more advanced capabilities the same way feels nothing less than miraculous. And phones are just the start.

Apple didn’t denigrate Android’s superior voice recognition capability, they pushed it to a much higher level — the ability to intelligently interpret words to initiate actions. You’re a smart guy, Andy, but to dismiss this kind of leap with comments like “you shouldn’t be communicating with the phone” is pretty embarrassing.

Common sense says one other thing, too. Not too far in the future, Android will feature a built-in intelligent assistant. It may even help you explore Android’s library of made-for-tablet apps.

 

Tags: , , , ,

  • neilw

    I assume that when Rubin says “you shouldn’t be communicating with the phone”, that means that the next version of Android will have all the voice control features removed. Right? Right? Beuller?

    As for the tablet apps thing, a simple pattern has emerged: wherever a vendor has a deficit in app availability, that vendor denigrates the need for said apps. First it was RIM dismissing the need for “app tonnage”, touting HTML5, and then hawking their app development environment at their tech conference. Now Google dismisses the need for tablet-specific apps because, as you say, they don’t have any. It’s all very predictable.

  • Pepe

    Then again, Rubin might be taking the Jobsian approach of trash talking’ the technology while secretly working on a more powerful solution. Steve did this pre-iPad by dissing the whole category.

  • Dude

    Steve dissed crappy products, didnt mean apple wasnt going to make better ones.

    Google can’t innovate and needs to settle with apple by selling itself to apple for about $50 billion or so.

    An appropriate haircut for those thieving scum.

  • GadgetDon

    Going from under 4 inches to 10 inches, yes, that changes everything. Plus, for iOS there are only two screen sizes, big and small.

    But on Android, there are a variety of screen sizes. Plus, the phones are trending to larger screens (5″ or so) and tablets are tending to smaller (7″). So your app needs to scale for screen size anyway, and there’s no big step.

    That said, there are things that only work on a biggish screen, or at least would work very differently. So a developer has to say “where’s the line we draw between ‘small ui’ and ‘big ui’ (without guidance from Google) and the simple solution is ‘small ui everywhere'”.

  • Professorbx

    Keep in mind, this is the same man who once said that Muti-Touch wasn’t needed because he “personally doesn’t like two-handed operation.”

    http://www.engadget.com/2010/01/08/andy-rubin-on-multitouch-in-android-i-personally-dont-like-tw/

  • Bmcfadden

    Rubin’s attempt to diminish Siri is pathetic. And so are the fandroids attempt to say Android can do what Siri can do. It simply can’t.

    I hear the new Steve Jobs bio coming out next week reveals that Jobs vowed to “destroy Android until my final breath … Android was a ripoff on a massive scale”. (I am paraphrasing).

    Google is the new Microsoft — purveyors of copied, second rate products and technology (except of course, search).

    Siri must be massively threatening to Google — not only does it define a completely new model of man/machine interaction, it has the potential to completely subvert existing methods of Internet search and discovery. And it’s not coming to an Andoid phone soon.

  • Troy

    Obviously Andy is nervous for Google and Google’s bottom line. The Siri experience is powerful to say the least…it’s one more thing that Apple and the iPhone will “own” even if other similar products exist. Also, I’m sure the iPhone / Siri marketing campaign will do its best to help Apple “own” that type of experience.

    I look at it like this…if I can say “where is the nearest pizza place?”…and Siri finds (and tells me about) the nearest pizza place…and I go there…I’ve just bypassed Google and Google Places. Almost in an instant, Google has lost millions of customers who used to turn to them for the things that Siri will now do for you…if you just ask.

  • Love this paragraph and conclusion: “Obviously, many apps can scale perfectly well from a phone to a tablet if they’re written to do so. Just as obviously, there’s a big difference between a 4-inch screen and a 10-inch screen. Though many apps can successfully scale, common sense says that a bigger screen opens up new possibilities. Otherwise, we’d all be running phone apps on our 27-inch screens too.”

  • I was disappointed in Andy Rubin’s comment. It’s wrong looking forward.

    And it’s wrong looking backward — a long press on a fixed button to invoke queries and activities by voice is what Rubin introduced with Gingerbread.

    What’s happened with Siri’s AI-lite-like interaction is that Apple saw the technology Android had and did part of it even better.

    Google needs to catch-up on the AI and more natural language querying.

    But Google has voice dictation throughout the operating system and Ice Cream Sandwhich takes that to a whole new level, transcribing as you speak.

    Rubin needs media coaching because he could have used the opportunity to tout Google’s commitment (past and present) to voice and the brand rather than sound unrealistic and out of touch.