SAN JOSE, Calif. – At its annual developer’s conference, Google announced a new voice search capability, a music streaming service and upgrades of Maps and Google+, including automated online photo enhancements that compete with what digital cameras offer.
Unlike past years, the keynotes announced no shiny new Android or Chrome OS devices or hardware initiatives. However, in a surprise appearance Google chief executive Larry Page closed out the session with a short talk and Q&A, giving an upbeat engineer’s perspective on the state of high tech in general and Google in particular.
“We share a deep sense of optimism about the potential for technology to improve people’s lives,” said Page, appearing in a red T-shirt before an estimated crowd of 5,500 and nearly a million more on a live YouTube Webcast. “We haven’t seen this rate of change in computing probably since the birth of personal computing,” he said.
Claiming pride in being a “nerdy curmudgeon,” Page told of his father driving the family across the country to see a robotics conference and arguing to get the young Larry into it. “We need more kids falling in love with math and science and people graduating with science and engineering degrees and working on technical problems,” he said.
Responding to audience questions Page said:
Young engineers should focus on first principles. “I encourage you to avoid incremental thinking and have a really deep understanding of what you are doing.”
Most of Google’s out-of-the box initiatives have paid dividends such as a self-driving car effort which contributed ideas and staff to Google Maps. “The amount we spend winds up being small checks.”
Microsoft is not letting Google fully interoperate with its platforms. “I am sad the Web is not advancing as fast as it could be; we have struggled with Microsoft.”
Google Health “didn’t make much progress--primarily all the issues were regulatory. We will see amazing things in health care but I think they will be things that have a tech lever like [low cost] DNA sequencing.”
Smartphones will eventually penetrate developing markets in India and Africa and become a primary business tool. “I can get almost everything I need to run the company on my phone, but unfortunately I don’t get to do much programming.”
He attends the annual Burning Man event and sees it as a good venue for testing new products. By contrast, “I’m not sure about the value of getting on stage [at Google I/O] and saying everything is amazing. We should launch things in a humble way and see what the affect is.”
Does anyone else find it extremely annoying that all of the voice recognition requires transmitting the data? My old Windows phone didn't need that... OK, it didn't work that well but that was over 4 years ago...
It seems that the "incremental thinking" that should be avoided most carefully is that which adds no value, but only attaches worthless features to some product. We have way more of that kind of thinking than any world would ever need.
And not only had Google struggled with microsoft, but the majority of independant thinking people struggle with it every day, it seems. Mostly because of added features that do not add any value to their products. Is there a trend visible here?
Page expressed disappointment with those who focus on negative platform wars instead of just creating something new and positive in a zero sum game where there is an abundance of opportunity.
Indeed Google pioneers a lot of good stuff...but I have to note Google is working very, very hard to make Google+ a better social platform than Facebook which is already great and has the eyeballs. It has done the same with Chrome (Firefox is fine), Android (iOS) and etc.
Incremental improvement is necessary. Invention of airplane does not necessary mean cars are replaced by airplanes. We need cars, and cars must be incrementally improved - more efficient, more safety.
However, opposite is also true - we need car does not mean we did't need airplane invented. And airplane will never be invented if there were no one challenged common sense, "it is crazy idea people can fly".
Incremental thinking in everyday activities is natural; yet if one does not step away from the everyday thinking and starts thinking "out of the box", in electrical terms, on a system and/or architectural level, the incremental work just gets buried in the "just get the job done" syndrome. In today's fast-paced work environment sometimes the forest is neglected when looking at individual trees, to twist a metaphor on its head. Of course one needs to work for a company like Google to be able to think about the next big thing, like driverless cars or computer glasses. Not many of us are as fortunate. Page's comments addressed the Google developers community and are right on.
I was hoping for an updated Nexus 7 at Google IO. Disappointed.
BTW I found Page's comment interesting. “I encourage you to avoid incremental thinking and have a really deep understanding of what you are doing.”
Almost everything that I(& most people I know) do is incremental stuff. While it is true that incremental inventions may not result in sexy new products overnight, most of what we see today came through incremental changes over a long period of time. May be its applicable when you conceive a new idea.. like an all electric car.. or reusable rocket.. but even in that after a while every other change is incremental.. Any thoughts?
Price will be the key for smartphone to penetrate developing world. If the flexibility and capability of developing application from it are improved, I am sure a lot of people will be happy that include ARM.