June 26, 2012, 9:17 PM —
Image via Paddy Foran.
The nature of big annual conferences run by big companies means that when the time comes for the keynote, something big must emerge. For Apple, Microsoft, and, more recently, Google, the big thing is usually a portable device, new software for those devices, or the rare but attention-getting thing that was entirely unexpected. But what happens if there isn’t a big new thing, right on time for the yearly show, or the big new thing isn’t quite ready to be big?
Usually those chosen-for-big-ness things get rushed (see: Android’s tablet-focused Honeycomb version of Android), or artificially pumped up (see: the way-too-loud of Beatles songs on iTunes, or most Microsoft events). Almost never does a company announce that they’ve been working hard on a number of fixes, improvements, and smart ideas for a next version that isn’t quite ready yet, but will be soon. Because nobody would attend that conference, or feature its keynote in the news, right? Google has the last of June’s big three conferences this week, and lots of people are attending, and expecting big things.
In my head, though, there’s a version of Google’s I/O conference that isn’t a mix of device announcements and giveaways, far-flung details of lab-like projects (Android-controlled stereos and refrigerators, anyone?), and statistics written in 120-point font. It’s a recitation of all the things Google has quietly fixed and promises to work on around its ecosystem, and it’s geared firmly toward the people who use Google services every day, and don’t just happen to be in the audience. Dream with me, won’t you, of some imaginary announcements from the stage of the Moscone.
“We’ve done it. We’ve created a great version of Offline Google Docs, or Drive, and it’s available right now. Seriously. Refresh your browser. We stole the people who work on Dropbox’s version control team and put them to work on this. You’ll never have to outsmart our servers again.”
“Remember that pledge we made about keeping all new Android devices up to date for at least 18 months of their life? We’re re-launching it. We found tougher negotiators and lawyers this time around, and we’re creating an Android Update Team dedicated to helping push and test updates.”