Google I/O: Android Interface, Cloud Advances Star - InformationWeek

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Google I/O: Android Interface, Cloud Advances Star

Day one of Google I/O lacked skydivers but delivered new APIs, tools, and connectivity to push Google's mobile device and cloud capabilities forward.

of a restaurant where a reservation had just been made. The handoff occurred without opening a new browser window.

Another use for Wear is to equip the watch with a Bluetooth signal that tells your phone you are present, which obviates the need to enter a PIN number when the phone's owner picks it up to use. If the owner were separated from the signal, the phone would lock itself against outside use.

Urs Hoelzle, senior VP of engineering and chief cloud architect, said Google has a new big data service that makes somewhat obsolete its MapReduce system, which has found popular use at such places as Amazon Web Services' Elastic MapReduce. In its place, Hoelzle recommends using Cloud Dataflow, a big data system capable of handling large streams of data or events in parallel pipes. It's designed to be easy to set up the management of complex data flows, since it can deal with both batch jobs and streaming data. At Amazon, MapReduce or Hadoop would handle the batch job, while Amazon Kinesis, introduced last November, would handle streaming data.

Hoelzle called Google cloud solutions architect Eric Schmidt 2nd (not Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman) to the stage as the Dataflow demonstrator. Schmidt used it to process data streaming out of a World Cup soccer match, looking for athlete performance anomalies, then alerting and reporting them to Dataflow managers.

Hoelzle also introduced four new developer tools for use in building applications to run on the Google Compute Engine or App Engine.

-- Cloud Save is a simple API for saving user preferences or application use information drawn from each user visit to Google Cloud Data Store, its storage service for unstructured data. Once there, it can be analyzed by Big Query or other analytics engine and the results used in connection with the operation of the application.

-- Cloud Debugging lets a developer who sees something malfunctioning in the application to inspect source code, insert a watch point when a suspected trouble area is executed, and then highlights the suspect code when the suspect activity occurs again. Greg DeMichellie, director of Cloud Platform product management, illustrated stray emoticons being inserted in the display of his WalkShare application, then discovered a regular expression error in the source. With the application running, the correction was inserted into a new build and incorporated into the production system.

-- Cloud Tracing is a performance oriented tool that allows a developer to inspect requests to an application and see which ones are running up clock time, affecting performance. A request taking 200 milliseconds to get a response is shown to be caused by a code loop, which DeMichellie corrected on stage. He then used Cloud Tracing to check the before and after latency of the application to make sure the app as a whole was running faster. It was.

-- Cloud Monitoring is a tool for gaining visibility into the operation of CPU, disk, and memory of a workload on Compute or App Engine, as most monitoring systems do. In addition, the tool can also monitor a running service and respond with alerts if service levels decrease below certain thresholds. The tool, for example, can monitor a running Reddis system and detect when its exceeded its memory threshold for longer than an allowed period.

Senior VP for Chrome and Android, Sundar Pichai, recently described by BusinessWeek as "the most powerful man in mobile," cited stats on how far Android has advanced over the course of the last year. Twenty-eight percent of the access to YouTube was from Android devices in 2013; 42% so far in 2014. Android's share of the smartphone market was 39% in 2012; 46% in 2013; and 62% so far in 2014, he said.

Handset manufacturers Micromax, Karbonn, and Spice have been working with Google to offer Android smartphones in India for under $100. Pichai said he has been using a Micromax model and "it's really good."

A protester interrupted Urs Holzle as he spoke, shouting, "You work for a company that builds machines that kill people," a reference most attendees appeared to be dumbfounded by. He was escorted from the Moscone West by security. Seconds later, the next speaker, Michellie, began his talk on WalkShare: "This is the most peaceful application that I know how to build," and got an appreciative round of applause.

InformationWeek's new Must Reads is a compendium of our best recent coverage of the Internet of Things. Find out the way in which an aging workforce will drive progress on the Internet of Things, why the IoT isn't as scary as some folks seem to think, how connected machines will change the supply chain, and more. (Free registration required.)

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Apprentice
7/3/2014 | 12:27:36 PM
Re: Google finally shows their real face . . . just fix KitKat first!
As a matter of fact these issues in the Kit Kat releases have existed across the Andrioid spectrum, even onto the Nexus platform (which I was hoping to switch to) from the very beginning (and all you have to do is read the forums to see how widespread the problem is).  In addition there is the meddling of the carriers themselves to contend with as well, no matter who they are.  

Personally I feel they (the devs of any corporate stripe) deliberately released junk in order to make us grateful for software that will work in six months to a year out, software that will leak more personal data than ever before, with the idea being you'll put up with it for a working phone.

Example:  Samsung has added some "security" feature that uploads whatever it wants to directly to them.  This is not something I can opt-out of, but fortunately requires that I say yes by "tapping" the notification on my phone.  I don't know what it is and I don't know how it will be used.  They don't bother to try and tell me either and that by iself is enough for me to say "No thank you."

Hopefully Ubuntu will release something that works the way it is supposed to, without the need to track and record everything I do just for the sake of having it work properly.  Privacy and Consumer needs aren't frivolities to be traded away like cattle at a slaughterhouse for a price.  They are human rights that need to be considered and protected as much as you would a child or a bank account. 
User Rank: Ninja
6/26/2014 | 11:49:34 PM
Re: Google finally shows their real face . . . just fix KitKat first!
Do a quick Google search for Note 2 bugs or crash problems. You may be experiencing an issue with your Samsung hardware.
Charlie Babcock
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
6/26/2014 | 3:13:50 PM
Android Studio is getting sophisticated
Android Studio, Lorna, is getting to be a pretty sophisticated integrated development environment. It can now import projects from Eclipse, identify problems in code, red underline inconsistent use of API versions, etc.  I think the Android tool universe is growing fast.

User Rank: Strategist
6/26/2014 | 10:50:09 AM
Re: Google finally shows their real face . . . just fix KitKat first!
I wonder if that is really Google's fault. You do realize that Google releases Android and then the manufacturer (Samsung) customizes it and then send it to the carrier and the carrier customizes it again. In short you have three people that have changed that software before it gets to your phone. Samsung is known for making some rather large changes to Android. They are also known to take a pretty good while to make those changes. Add to the fact that all those changes typically in my expereince cause lag and slow downs. I think you might do better to complain to Samsung. I have a phone running on the latest Android and I do not have any problems. The same with at least six other people I know running the latest version. 
User Rank: Apprentice
6/26/2014 | 10:38:09 AM
Google finally shows their real face . . . just fix KitKat first!
When will Google fix all the bugs in KitKat?!  My Note 2 never was right BEFORE the KitKat release, but at least Google Apps and WiFi worked.  Now I have 3/4G but GOOGLE APPS CRASHES EVERY TIME I try to use them, especially Voice and Mail.

THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!  Waiting for a new release that will supposedly fix these issues by integrating all their features and adding new layers of security and reporting I have no control over IS NOT THE SOLUTION!  This is like Ford releasing a lemon and fixing it by releasing another lemon the next year!

Plus, the real integration is between the carriers and Google, it is not as if we can just switch phones or platforms to get the features we've come to rely on!  Paying $1500 to $2000 a year for mobile access is completly unacceptable and as a consumer I will not tolerate it.

Maybe Blackberry is the solution afterall, or Windows . . . or from anyone who will release an Ubuntu phone!
Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
6/26/2014 | 10:16:18 AM
Sticks and carrots?
Charlie, what tools does Google have to incentivize that "diverse and sometimes fractious universe of Android developers" to uniformly adopt its new design guidelines? 
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