Google’s CIO on the future of Android

The guys at Engadget posted an interesting interview with Matias Duarte, the guy behind Sidekick and Palms webOS, now in charge of the Androids user experience. He had some cool things to say about Gingerbread development, but even more about Honeycomb and the direction Android was headed. If you don’t have a half hour to watch, keep reading beyond the break for a rundown.

Personally, I wasn’t overly impressed by what Gingerbread brought to the table, as it wasn’t really that much. It was definitely necessary to do all the polishing and make it a little more snappy and enjoyable, but some built-in features like video chat would have done just fine. Duarte talked about Gingerbread’s limited time frame and the fact that it had to be coordinated with the Nexus S release, so it makes sense that they couldn’t do as much. In the Dive into Mobile video, Andy Rubin stated that the way Android development works he targets external partners, builds some hardware, and then builds and tests on a unified piece of hardware. It seems that the reality for Duartes, at least with Gingerbread, was a little different: He described the hardware associated directly with Google more like a show model to showcase its main mobile product: Android.

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However, what is more interesting is that he is talking about Honeycomb. I gave them a full rundown of their demo and also talked about what the jump in version numbers means and the fact that it’s made for tablets for the future of Android. Fortunately, he was wrong. Duarte confirmed that the changes we saw in Honeycomb will also make their way to phones. I called out the fact that GTalk video chat would come sooner rather than later, but I didn’t expect all the UI mods to do so as well. It seems that all the dynamic menus that change according to whatever you are trying to do, replacing hidden menus and menus within menus, will make their way to phones at some point in the future.

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He also outlined design decisions based on “different usage paradigms” (in Josh’s words), like getting rid of hardware buttons due to screen orientation change and Windows 7 like app state preview. when switching between applications. Apparently, they will leave the decision to integrate different functions, such as programmable buttons, to individual manufacturers, at least on phones. While I think it’s great that they’re there on a tablet and easier to move around and use, on a phone I’d vote for hard buttons to get the extra screen real estate, but you’ll have a choice. a screen-only phone in the future. There are many more interesting things, so if you are interested in Android you can only watch the last 10 minutes to see what Duarte’s vision was in building Honeycomb.

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