Roundarch Attends Google I/O

Last month we attended the third annual Google I/O 2010 Conference. The conference, held at the Moscone West Center in San Francisco, CA, was the largest yet with over 5000 attendees, 90 breakout sessions, and 180 demonstrations in the Sandbox area.

NYSTROM Herff Jones Education Division, Roundarch’s client, was invited to show StrataLogica in the Sandbox area. We were on hand to answer technical question while Don Rescigno demonstrated StrataLogica to the attendees. We are proud to say that StrataLogica was well received by the attendees and praised by Google’s developers.

The daily keynotes, breakout sessions and Sandbox demonstrations were interesting. However, the real benefit was two days of rubbing shoulders with Google developers and developers who use or are interested in using Google products—swapping stories, ideas, and generally talking shop.

The first day’s Keynote fired up the audience.

The main theme was open and inclusive technologies with unveiled shots at Apple for their decision to exclude Flash on the iPhone. Google made a commitment to HTML5 (and CSS3), Wave is opened and in Google Apps, Google Web Tools supports Spring. Also, Google announced Storage for developers and the Chrome Web Store: a single place to find Web apps.

HTML5 helps provide a desktop app experience to user’s of RIA and is supported by every major browser. (IE9 will support HTML5.) CSS3 transitions and font embedding were mentioned in passing. Google Fonts API will generate the CSS needed to add Google hosted fonts to a Web page using the @font-face CSS tag.

The HTML5 specification opens up access to the client system. There is still some foot dragging on access to system devices and areas of the specification that need to be clarified, but when available would make projects like Motorola’s easier. An example use was dragging and dropping email attachments where a file on the local PC can be dragged into the Web application.

With HTML5, came the announcement of a new video format named WebM. This is an open sourced format that runs in the HTML5 video tag and can be supported in other media players. Webm is based on Vorbis for the audio and VP8, by On2—recently acquired by Google—for the video.

Adobe announced HTML5 support in Dreamweaver and WebM support in Flash. Dreamweaver will have three different size preview panels so the developer can see how the Web page looks in a traditional browser, a mobile phone portrait orientation, and a mobile phone in landscape orientation.

There now is a growing need to create designs that are more fluid and can transform themselves to different screen formats. The Sports Illustrated editor gave an impressive demonstration of a Web edition of the magazine using HTML5.

There is a lot of promise in the emerging HTML5/CSS3 standard to provide a rich interactive user experience. This is especially true in the mobile market where Apple and Google are already implementing HTML5. GWT, Google Web Tools, was mentioned mostly for the new performance tracking tools and its tight integration with The Spring Framework. GWT generates cross-browser compliant HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript from Java, allowing developers to rapidly create AJAX enabled Web apps with little client side programming.

Whereas Wednesday’s Keynote was all about HTML 5 and Video, Thursday’s Keynote was all about Android and Google TV.

Starting with the announcement of Android 2.2, dubbed Froyo (FROzen YOgurt), and then proceeding on to demonstrate a wealth of new features.

Froyo’s JavaScript engine, taken directly from Chrome, includes a Just-In-Time compiler improving performance by up to 500%. Also demonstrated were improved application support features including installing to removable memory for portability between devices (if the app allows) and in the event of an application crash, Froyo can upload a stack trace to the developer’s account to assist with fixing bugs that have made it into the wild. Many enhancements simplifying device to device and device to web communications have been added also. In addition, keeping with Google’s focus on advertising, several new provider agnostic ad placement mechanisms have been added.

Following the Android demonstration, Google TV was announced. Google’s goal is for the web to change TV as it changed computers and mobile devices previously. I think the most important take away from the presentation, is that Google TV is:

  1. An open specification that manufacturers can use to assure interoperability between their TV devices.
  2. A hardware specification for those devices to ensure compatibility with Google TV.
  3. An Android & Chrome based platform that can be deploy to any device that complies with the hardware specification.

The most compelling feature of Google TV is eliminating the concept of the Input Source. Instead of changing inputs between Cable, Internet, DVD or Blue Ray and then using the available search features (if any), Google TV would instead issue a user’s search across all devices and the results will be displayed integrated together. The correct input source is then streamed according to the user’s choice.

Being Android, developers will be able to create/install applications. One interesting example would be to use existing services to translate closed caption feeds into languages that are not supported. With all the improved device to device communications of Android, any Android device will be able to interface with any Google TV device. Obvious examples: programming your DVR from anywhere with your phone or using it as the remote. A more advance app would be watching recorded video from any Android device anywhere.

The NBA also demoed an application based around their content that demonstrated how a normal broadcast can be enriched with related content. This leads to the implication that companies should consider including a TV presence in addition to Web and Mobile presences.

We think some of the most interesting insights that were very apparent at the conference are:

  1. Adobe is on board with HTML 5 and WebM. This makes HTML vs. Flash discussions somewhat academic or irrelevant.
  2. Google clearly has Apple/iPhone in their sights. There were quite a few shots directed at Steve Jobs in addition to numerous comments about his company and its devices.
  3. Google has affirmed its commitment to open and inclusive standards. They will embrace these standards where they are established and spearhead their creation and adoption where they do not.