Engaging Computing Group attends Google I/O 2011

Prof. Fred Martin and five members of his research team attended the fourth annual Google I/O conference, held in the Moscone West center in San Francisco on May 10th and 11th, 2011.

In the conference, Google presented its latest technologies to the developer community, to encourage adoption of their APIs and platforms. This year, there was a special emphasis on the Android platform and the Chrome browser.

The event was a gala affair, attended by over 5,000 people and with highly produced keynotes by top Google engineering managers. Each morning led off with an hour-long keynote; the first day's focused on Android, and the second day's focused on Chrome.  Then there were 10 parallel tracks throughout the rest of the day. Attendees were treated well, with full breakfast, lunch, and snacks provided to all, and a Tuesday night party that included a concert by the alt-rock band Jane's Addiction.

In terms of technology, it was clear that Google is making a massive investment in Android. The operating system is no longer just for mobile phones; they gave details of the current “Honeycomb” release, which is optimized for tablets. There was a big presentation about developing for the Android-based Google TV platform.

In the keynote and a separate session, the Android Accessory Development Kit (ADK) was launched, which allows developers to interface their own sensor and actuators to an Android device.The keynote included a live demo done with the Lifecycle exercise equipment company—a bicycle that connects to your Android phone and where you play a game on the phone by changing the cycling rate. iRobot and other companies displayed prototypes using the ADK on the show floor. All attendees of the technical session on the ADK received a full kit to start developing their own attachments.

The other big push by Google, and the subject of the second day's keynote, was the Chrome browser and Chrome operating system. Google is making a serious play for the latest incarnation of the “thin client” concept—the idea that all data and applications should hosted in the cloud, and a simple client machine can dynamically load the applications needed to operate on users’ data, which is also hosted in the cloud. After announcing that the Chrome Web Store would only collect 5% of an app's sale price, Google showed the latest addition to the Store—the first desktop version of the huge hit game “Angry Birds.”  

Then Google announced the evolution of its trial Cr-48 notebook program—new “Chromebooks” that will be sold by leading PC manufacturers Samsung and Acer.  Google announced a program where businesses can adopt Chromebooks with a monthly subscription plan, including regular hardware replacement and back-end services, for a monthly price of $28 per employee. They also announced a $20 per month price for non-profits and educational institutions.To encourage developers to jump on the Chrome bandwagon, all 5,000 Google I/O attendees were told that they will receive a Chromebook when they launch in June.

The technical sessions were also excellent; each was led by a Google developer who was personally responsible for new APIs, tools, or other programming approaches presented. Prof. Martin and his team participated in presentations on:

  • Using App Engine to perform large-scale mapreduce operations
  • Developing large Javascript web apps using the Closure tools
  • Storing Android app data in an App Engine backend with the Google Plugin for Eclipse, which generates appropriate design patterns for both an Android app and an App Engine app in tandem
  • The ForPlay cross-platform game abstraction layer, which has output back-ends for HTML5, Android, Java, and Flash
  • Advice for building a startup, including getting support from VCs
  • Google's collaboration with the cutting-edge robotics development group, Willow Garage, on cloud robotics approaches—off-loading compute-intensive tasks like object recognition and mapping to cloud-based services
In all, it was an inspiring event. It is clear that web-based services are continuing to accelerate in importance in the computing field, and that Google is leading the way. Everyone at the meeting was friendly and knowledgable—it was definitely a high-level meeting among talented engineers and developers from across industry and academia.

See below for photos from the event.

Engaging Computing Group members pose outside the giant Google map marker before the gates open (L-R): John Fertitta, Michael McGuinness, James Dalphond, Mark Sherman, Prof. Fred Martin, and Chris Corcoran.

The third floor of the convention center was devoted to Android.

At the May 10th keynote, Google Product Manager Hugo Barra announced the name of the next Android release, to be called “Ice Cream Sandwich.”

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This page contains a single entry by Martin, Fred published on May 13, 2011 9:54 AM.

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