Fireside chat with the Android Team highlights

One of the coolest things (after getting a Galaxy Tab 10.1 of course) about the first day of Google I/O was the fireside chat with the people behind Android.  Chris DiBona, (moderator, and pictured) Dan Bornstein, Debajit Ghosh, Dave Sparks, Xavier Ducrohet, Jeff Hamilton, Andy Stadler, Dan Morrill, Dianne Hackborn, Rebecca Schultz Zavin, and Ficus Kirkpatrick all got up on stage and fielded informal questions from anyone and everyone, and they even pulled Tim Bray up on stage a few times. 

Some questions were easy, some were hard, some were downright nerdy and quite a few didn't get answered.  But huge props to everyone involved for getting up there and facing the unknown.  I'm not going to cover every question, but I've got a handful of the ones I think you'll find most interesting, after the break.

Question: Will developers have access to the new cloud music player, and will we be able to write apps that can play music from the cloud?

Answer: The Android team doesn't know.  (Seriously, there's no BS involved here.  The Android team is very forthcoming, and tells it like it is.  Refreshing.)

Question: Will Android and Chrome ever merge?

Answer: Bring that up at the Chrome team fireside chat (with a big grin)

Question: Any plans for an Android app layout tool?

Answer: Yes, an official one is in the works now. (All the developers cheered)

Question: Any plans on better support in official Android support forums?

Answer: The team agreed that more is needed.  Tim Bray says they will all try to blog more, and that they need to teach the teachers and provide a more seamless interface with the end user. Huzzah!

Question: What about a better Android emulator?

Answer: We're working on it.  Not a lot to announce at this time, maybe we'll get to see a demo tomorrow (May 11) at the developers tools breakout session. (Again, cheering)

Information: The Android mascot's official name is bugdroid.  Lloyd, however, is still Lloyd.

Question:  When will the Android Market open more countries outside the US to carrier billing?

Answer: We're always looking for ways to integrate with more carriers.  We want paid apps available to as many people as possible.

Question: Will Google ever release a handset that runs completely on open-source software?

Answer: The Nexus S is that way with most of its components.  We're working with chipset vendors for the rest.  You can build a 100 percent working system from AOSP and have all hardware supported.  Software like radio interface libraries are transparent to Android (meaning they do nothing with them, or special for them, they need to just work with the system as-is).  They went on to say this is not the kind of war you can win, it's better than it was two years ago, and even better than just last year.

Question: Are there plans to allow apps bigger than 50 MB on the Market? 

Answer: Yes. Be sure to come see us tomorrow (May 11)

Question: Honeycomb source -- will it ever be released? (And no, it wasn't me who asked, but I was in line to :) )

Answer: Because of the way GIT works, all the changes will be available eventually.  But when asked if there will ever be a branch folks can download and build, or if they ever plan to release something for the current legacy tablets, the answer was "Ask us in Q4." (which happens to be the target for Ice Cream Sandwich.)

Question:  What are the challenges to have a full Chrome browser for Android?

Answer: There is no version of Chrome for Android.  There would be too many challenges, ask the Chrome guys.

Question: Are there any plans of open-sourcing Google Apps?

Answer: That's a no.  There's too much IP that's important to Google, and if the products are open-sourced there is no leverage to make sure hardware partners build fully compliant devices.

Question: Any chance for Android Market gift cards?

Answer: That's something were looking at.

I told you this place was Android Geek heaven.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • Bugdroid? Ehh... Not very easy to remember...
  • Yeah bugdroid isn't very imaginative, given the awesome content Google gives us. Let's officially make it Lloyd (my wife even calls him that now)
  • yeah, I just tell everyone that the name is Lloyd. They like that. If I told them it's bugdroid they'd all realize the Google Team named it out of pure hate.
  • "Question: Will Android and Chrome ever merge? Answer: Bring that up at the Chrome team fireside chat (with a big grin)" This is very interesting for me. I was one of the lucky ones to get the CR-48 and I absolutely love it, but my one complaint is that the "web-store" isn't really apps, so much as bookmarks. If Chrome OS would be able to run Android apps, I would have almost no need for a Windows PC at home again.
  • And then the guy in the photo said, "And now I shall return to my comic book store, where I dispense the insults rather than absorb them."
  • I'm starting to think that Google only hires people who drive 1970's vans and carry a lot of candy
  • Oh I don't know, after all they hired Diane Hackborn, and that has to be the coolest last name for any developer.
  • I want full Chrome browser why is it so hard?
  • +1. C'mon Google...there's got to be a better answer than that. How can Mozilla make their browser work on Android but Google can't? Or is it that they won't???
  • I think the relative performance of the stock browser vs Firefox shows what you get when porting a piece of desktop x86 software to a mobile device. Chrome is a WebKit browser, and the stock browser already uses the WebKit-based classes that are part of Android. It seems like quite a waste to actually port Chrome over when you already have the same backend rendering bits built in to the platform! By all means skin it and bring over UI elements, but I highly doubt "getting Chrome to work" is what anyone wants to do.