The biggest news coming out of Google IO, the company’s annual tech conference, is Google Music, it’s cloud-based music service which isn’t supported or licensed by any of the music publishers. Much like Amazon’s announcement of its cloud-based music service, Google’s service positions itself as a single-user experience. Google Music is a storage medium for playing music you already own.
The key difference between Google Music and Amazon’s is re-download. Once you upload your tunes to Google Music, you can’t download it to your current PC or any other PC. After uploading, Google Music becomes streaming only, unlike Amazon, which will allow you to re-download tunes you own.
Google believes this will protect it from litigation from the studios, but this entire arena is still developing, and the studios may want to see this play out in the courts.
One of the more interesting aspects of Google IO were all the sessions on 3D graphics and gaming in the Chrome browser or on Android. Pushing gaming on Android is understandable, given the success of gaming on Apple’s iOS platforms. In addition, there were interesting sessions on WebGL, including taking better advantage of 3D hardware, developing games with Google Web Toolkit and building game development tools.
Note that Google didn’t merely suggest that new games get built in browsers. They pointed to Activision’s integration of Youtube API integration into Call of Duty: Black Ops. What’s clear is that the line between the web and desktop games will steadily be blurring as we go forward.
Adding more capability to the browser also means more potential exploits; one of the side articles that came out during the day suggested that WebGL could become the next security challenge , as hackers exploit shader code through graphics drivers to gain access to your system.
You’ll also be able to rent movies through Youtube. Typical prices will be $2.99, with some recent releases going for a buck more. Most of these will likely be available in HD. It’s no surprise that Google would jump into the movie rental game, given the success of Netflix, iTunes, Amazon and Hulu. Unfortunately, no one service seems to have access to all shows, so it will be interesting if the inevitable aggregation service appears – along with the inevitable litigation.
One aspect of many of the sessions was the tacit, if unspoken, acknowledgement of the gradual convergence between Google platforms. Sure, we’ll have Android on tablets, phones and maybe some ARM-based laptops. But the real platform is the web – and preferably some flavor of Chrome.
The announcement of the next generation Android OS, code-named Ice Cream Sandwich, looks more like an OS, including aspects like host USB support. Google also showed some interesting augmented reality apps, but those were demos rather than apps in development.
Perhaps more interesting was Android@Home, making the home into a giant peripheral for Android devices. This is not new – system integrators who build home control systems have been using iPhones and iPads for this, but Google is looking to make this ubiquitously built into hardware, rather than require custom installer support.
It’s been suggested for the past couple of years that Google is positioning itself as an alternative to device-based operating systems, like Apple’s MacOS and iOS and Microsoft Windows. Given the push to games, music, movies and Android@Home, this year’s Google IO makes that position crystal clear.