Some thoughts on the Google I/O Keynote [video]

Did you get a chance to watch the keynote from Google I/O yesterday? I did (if you missed it, it's embedded at the bottom of this post). I was trying to decide what to cover in this post since they Xoomed (see what I did there?) through so many features and services in an hour.

In the end I decided to just do a quick overview of the keynote as seen through the eyes of a wannabe Android fanboy (I love the idea of Android but am often disappointed by the reality of it). So here goes.

Google is getting into the movie rental business. Ho-hum. I'm not sure what's going to make me pick the Android Market (or YouTube, it's two faces of the same service) over any of the half dozen other streaming movie rental services I have available. I guess the big draw is watching these $4 movie rentals on my Android phone, and I have to assume there are people who really do that, but I'm not one of them.

Then there's Music Beta by Google. I wanted to be really excited about this, but I kept thinking "Amazon already offers this and I've already got it set up. Why would I switch?" The Instant Playmix feature could be a draw, but I really like that I can buy music from Amazon and have it instantly available from the cloud. I did put my name on the Music Beta waiting list and I'll definitely be giving it a try when I get in, but my expectations are fairly low. Expectations that weren't lifted after I read a post from VentureBeat, where Matthew Lynley has already tried the service and says "It's miserable." I'm also a bit concerned with the only talk of price being (and I paraphrase) 'free, at least during beta.' I don't mind paying, but before I invest a lot of time in Music Beta I'd like to know what the price will ultimately be.

Now let's talk Honeycomb 3.1. I've only owned my Honeycomb tablet (an Acer Iconia A500) for a week and am still forming an opinion of it, but an update sounds like good news to me. Honeycomb feels a bit rough in a lot of places. CrunchGear's Matt Burns has a Xoom that got updated today and he did a pretty positive hands-on article that has me psyched for 3.1. But when will I get it? Will I even get it on the Acer? I assume so, but I can't be sure. As a gamer, seeing an Xbox 360 controller plugged into a tablet really got my attention, too (though at the same time I can't help but snort at the image of me balancing a tablet on my knees while I hold a controller in my hands to play). A smoother, faster browsing experience would be welcome, and so would resizable widgets.

And Google TV will be getting new life via Honeycomb 3.1 and the Android Market. Hmm, now plugging in that game controller makes a lot more sense. Will Google TV finally be worth having? Stranger things have happened.

The Keynote was fun to watch and there's a lot of future stuff I'm not mentioning. I'm sure Google really believes we'll all be controlling our lights and toasters and alarm clocks using Android tablets but, as cool as it was, I'm not all that convinced it's the direction most people will go in. And the potential of Android Open Accessory is also intriguing but again...we're talking future stuff that the engineers and developers have to figure out before we end users get our grubby paws on it.

So for me the keynote was primarily interesting for the near future products and services: movie rentals, cloud music and Honeycomb 3.1 (and to a lesser extent, Android Ice Cream Sandwich). Of those products and services, only Honeycomb 3.1 really excites me, though I'd be happy to be proven wrong when it comes to Music Beta by Google.

The keynote left me feeling similar to how I feel about Android in general. I really want to love it, but I'm finding that to be a challenge. Maybe the problem is that Google is moving forward too fast to keep the level of polish to where it should be. It could be time for Google to slow down and spit-shine the experience rather than to continue rushing frantically into the future.

Anyone else agree?

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