Google IO Follow Up: Why candy is good for you

tldr; Innovation gets easier, loots = better apps sooner, look for substantial feature adds on RescueTime Android and full featured Chrome version.

Well, we’re back from Google IO. I can say, having been there three times running now– this one was rampant with the nerd herd stampeding from one awesomeness to the next like no other place on earth. Like squirrels in a nuthouse. Android momentum is, as they say, “off the chain”. Alright, I’m done with the memetheme, here’s the meat:

The best news is the claimed effort to de-splinter platform branches across all types of devices with Android, Chrome and the Chrome OS. This really will make the world easier, for a company like ours. This includes the drive for Ice Cream Sandwich release to bring phone, tablet, tv, and whatever Android device under the same tree. It lets us programmatically adapt to device capabilities inside one version of RescueTime rather than building from separate branches to separate targets. And that means you get our app on your device sooner, and likely more bug free. It also encourages us to think outside the box, by making funky lateral product spread easy, like maybe a realtime team pulse dashboard for your office lobby? or automatic coupon credits to your mobile dev for hitting goals in RescueTime?

As to the Candy Store at the Chocolate Factory: the practice of showering uberloots on attendees has its detractors, but my (possibly biased, heh) opinion is that this makes perfect sense: I was able to track down an issue with RescueTime on tablets that the emulator couldn’t help me with, in about an hour, thanks to having a tablet to test with in hand. Developers using Google tool kits get updates out faster than other platforms by virtue of Google sponsored test platform access.

Even more exciting is the chance to work on a full featured Chrome / Chrome OS version of RescueTime that will work online + offline on the browser and upcoming chromebooks. Using HTML5 and Chrome APIs *should* let us provide a seamless experience in both browser-only and full OS systems. When imagining this kind of dev effort, there’s a big difference between planning out your strategy, functional item in hand, chatting with the Google project manager and engineer who worked on the APIs, than sitting at a desk hunting StackOverflow and waiting on user group posts. It’s the fast track for good apps that a submit-a-form-lottery wouldn’t provide.

What do we expect next year? There’s an obvious collision course for Android and Chrome, I expect there to be news on that front. This kind of collapse-of-complexity innovation lets companies like us focus on what we’re trying to be best at: using data to help you understand yourself better, helping people get more done and hopefully getting them more quality play time while we’re at it, rather than tracking down the latest reason for some client feature to fail on some variously-patched desktop system on some archaic OS.

What would I ask from Google for next year? Let’s have more deep dive technical sessions. Maybe some more on linking between platforms and services (eg Chrome OS -> AppEngine). Most important for you to compete with Amazon to get the start-up pool? You need to provide some kind of migration path or toolkit for those of us with monstrous and complicated data mines. Smart, funded early startups are already past the prototype stage and can ill afford much platform layer costs. Finally, the idea of the Developer Advocate is great- build on that, and spread out geographically to get face to face outside the valley.

— Mark Wolgemuth