Just days before the Dream smart phone unveiling by Google and T-Mobile, Android creator Andy Rubin offers some musings on what kinds of application development and Web services we might expect in the mobile and wireless space over the next decade. Sensors will propel location-based services, crowdsourcing, social networking and more or less smarter computing experiences for people on the go, Rubin says.
Andy Rubin, father of Google's Android operating system, waxed ecstatic about the future of mobile computing in a blog post Sept. 19.
The post, timed to whet users' appetites ahead of the introduction of the first Android-based smart phone by Google and T-Mobile in New York Sept. 23, is getting little play in the blogosphere.
Google watchers are probably tuckered out from the series of prognosticating blog posts Google has pumped out since Marissa Mayer blogged exhaustively on the future of search. However, I think it's important to pay attention to Rubin with the Android Dream so close at hand.
Though Rubin doesn't mention the keywords Android or T-Mobile once, I choose to read his communiqué as a gimlet-eyed indicator of what we can expect from phones and other mobile devices based on Android, as well as phones from Nokia, Apple and Microsoft, in the next decade.
Noting that there are roughly 3.2 billion mobile gadget subscribers in the world, Rubin said sensors in our phones power clocks, thermometers, accelerometers and even compasses. Other sensors calculate user location and gauge battery power.
Sensors will be ubiquitous, as Rubin wrote:
Your phone knows a lot about the world around you. If you take that intelligence and combine it in the cloud with that of every other phone, we have an incredible snapshot of what is going on in the world right now. Weather updates can be based on not hundreds of sensors, but hundreds of millions. Traffic reports can be based not on helicopters and road sensors, but on the density, speed, and direction of the phones (and people) stuck in the traffic jams.
Our phones will be smart about our situation and alert us when something needs our attention. While we currently get news alerts or notifications when tickets go on sale, mobile Web apps will monitor our personalized preferences in the Internet cloud and tailor information updates to us.
See the Android Dream here.
For example, our phones will be super-GPS systems, telling us not only where we are and how to get somewhere, but letting us know when unforeseen travel issues arise, such as lousy weather or construction impediments. Other alerts will tell us via our phones how much items in store windows cost just by using sensors to pick up information from bar codes.
In coming years, Rubin claimed, we will add smarter alerts based on our locations and be able to collaborate and crowdsource with Web-based apps and share that content.
Many social Web services currently exist, but it's the integration of multiple disparate Web services, such as Twitter, OpenTable and Yelp.com, for example, that Rubin is expecting.
"Ask the Web for the most interesting sites in your vicinity, and your phone shows you reviews and pictures that people have uploaded of nearby attractions," Rubin said. Users would then get directions from that phone's brand of location-based app (such as Google, Nokia or Yahoo).
Finally, in what Rubin deems the "the future-proof device," our phones will open up, making it easier for programmers to not only write new and interesting apps for us but update existing apps automatically on our phones. Now that would be nice and convenient, as long as it's safe and secure.
I appreciate Rubin's enthusiasm for the mobile Web and it would seem we can't very well accuse him of being short-sighted. I have questions, as do some many other mobile fiends, many of whom are less than pumped about the coming of Android.
How many of the features, functions and concepts Rubin espouses will appear on Android-based phones from T-Mobile, Sprint and other carriers? And when can we expect these developments?
Does Google have a mobile application road map and a timetable for staying ahead of Apple, Nokia, Microsoft and other mobile device providers?
I'll try to ask Google about these perks tomorrow at the Dream launch.
By Clint Boulton
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