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Sundar Pichai’s First Interview Talks “Different” Google I/O, Android Updates, Samsung Relationship, and Time Travel

sundar pichai

As we head into the week which features the most anticipated Android and Google-related event of the year, new Android boss Sundar Pichai finally sat down for his first interview since taking over the reigns of our favorite mobile operating system. In a short Q&A with Wired, Pichai talks through Google’s relationship with Samsung, shares thoughts on Facebook Home, and even mentions Motorola’s status as one of their partners. But most importantly, he talked Android updates and Google I/O, which he claims will be different this year, because there may not be many products to announce. 

Below, you’ll find answers to what appeared to be the most important and related to what we do here at DL, but I highly recommend you read his entire interview at the source link below.

On I/O and how this year will be different:

It’s going to be different. It’s not a time when we have much in the way of launches of new products or a new operating system. Both on Android and Chrome, we’re going to focus this I/O on all of the kinds of things we’re doing for developers, so that they can write better things. We will show how Google services are doing amazing things on top of these two platforms.

On updating Android devices faster:

We are thinking about how to make Android handle updates better. We see ways we can do this. It’s early days. We’re talking with our partners and working our way through it. We need time to figure out the mechanics, but it’s definitely an area of focus for me and for the team.

On their relationship with Samsung:

I realize this gets played up in the press a lot. Samsung is a great partner to work with. We work with them on pretty much almost all our important products. Here’s my Samsung Galaxy S4. [Pichai holds up the phone.]

…Look, Samsung plays a critical role in helping Android be successful. To ship great experiences, you need hardware and software together. The relationship is very strong on a day-to-day basis and on a tactical basis. So I’m not that concerned. Historically the industry has had long stable structures. Look at Microsoft and Intel. They were very codependent on one another, but it served both of them well. When I look at where computing needs to go, we need innovation in displays, in batteries. Samsung is a world leader in those technologies.

On Motorola as a closer partner than others:

For the purposes of the Android ecosystem, Motorola is [just another] partner.

On Google’s new secret time travel project (joke of course):

I have a secret project which adds four hours every day to the 24 hours we have. There’s a bit of time travel involved.

Pichai also noted that Google “saw payouts to developers on Play quadruple in 2012,” suggesting that iOS developers aren’t the only group cashing in on apps these days.

So I/O, at least to me, isn’t going to be all that much different than years past. They’ll focus on developers, but don’t think for a second that there won’t be some kind of hardware to announce. It may not be a brand new Nexus 10 or Nexus 4, but Google always likes to show off new software and features running on new gadgets. It’s how they’ve done it for years now.

Also, who doesn’t wish they were a part of those conversations with partners about speeding up Android updates?

This week is going to be wild.

Via:  Wired

  • What about all those Sparrow engineers? Maybe Gmail will get some love from that direction? http://tinyurl.com/cc4l2by

  • ckeegan

    Sounds like I’ll be an S4 owner in 10 days. Was really hoping to find out something about the mysterious X Phone. Hell, I’d even entertain a RAZR MAXX HD 2 if it means I can get out of the horrible battery life of my GNex. Love the phone, want to launch the f’n battery into space.

    • Christopher Grame

      ^Me exactly. I just bought a Razr M…and I hate to say it but coming from a GNEX is a dream. I really wanted to wait (X phone) but I doubt anything amazing will be out until the end of the year

    • My feelings also. Took the mrs to the Giants game yesterday. We both have a GNex. I kept mine on 3g for hours and drained to 75% with a few photos taken over a few hours. Then kept live updates on the Warriors game thru 4th & 5th quarters, drained from 75% to about 35% in the next 45~ min. That was on 3g too 🙁

    • Coming from the Gnex, I feel your pain. I have the Note2 which has close to a 30 hour battery life… it completely changes the way I use a smart phone… It really makes me wish I dumped the GNex earlier.

  • F22

    Anything coming out of I/O other than a substantive annoucement about the Motorola X phone, would find me disinterested.

  • The Dude

    So basically no strategy or plans to update Android faster.

    Didn’t Google announce way back with ICS that they’d take steps to ensure all devices got updates? 2 years later and there is still nothing being done in this area.

    • NathanDomier

      I’d at least listen to the presentation first….

      Yes, it sounds like nothing is implemented yet, but we don’t know any details either. Perhaps they have some stopgap measures for now and have more effective and sweeping reforms in the works. Or maybe nothing. Can’t know for sure till after I/O.

  • MentatYP

    I hope they announce no new products at I/O this year and all the non-developers who bought tickets to get “free” stuff to sell on eBay let out a collective “WTF?!?!”

  • Right now, I’m just kind of laughing at all the people who scooped up I/O tickets for the sole reason of “getting some swag!”.

    You were told this was a developer conference.
    You were told that unless you were an active developer or part of the press, you have no good reason to be there.
    You were told to not be a selfish jerk and leave your ticket for an actual developer who wants to go and would benefit greatly from going (and in turn, would benefit the Android app ecosystem as a whole), instead of your useless butt taking up a spot.

    Now you’ll reap what you sow, and will hopefully learn to be a little more selfless next year.

    • michael arazan

      I think Its Time for Google to Just open up It’s own Univerity UCG

  • pappy53

    I have had Android phones since the OG Droid, and can still say that the update system on Androids is a total joke. I know that the carriers are the reason for most of it, but something needs to be done.
    Apple’s marketshare in the U.S. is rising, and Android’s is falling, and timely updates is one thing that probably leans some people to switch to iOS.

  • Jonathan Bunch

    Not really surprised about the lack of hardware, phones don’t usually get released/announced till fall anyway.

    nexus 7 was an exception, I still wouldn’t mind seeing an updated variant of it though.

  • Hard to believe he’s only 12!

    • michael arazan

      It’s not the number of your age but the number of your IQ

  • jnt

    The update situation will never change – at least until the larger “issue” of the carriers’ control over Android changes. And unless there’s a philosophical change from the top down on what Android is supposed to be for the carriers, that won’t happen. We’ll continue to receive the lip service we see here.

    • Perhaps, and perhaps not. The carriers can only really control the cell-radio-related aspects, since if the connectivity is borked it really can screw with their network. If Google can find a way to push kernel and framework updates ala Chrome without touching the radio code, then the carriers can’t say anything. The logistics is the issue here, as they would need to lock apk pushes to specific devices, and not every Android device can connect to the play store, etc etc. There are certainly challenges, but they are absolutely not insurmountable.

      • jnt

        Forgive me as I let my cynicism slip through. 🙂 While they only really control the cell-radio related aspects, don’t they also have the final say on software updates being pushed to users? And therefore can control aspects beyond the radios?

        • You are correct, but only for now…

          If Google figured out a way to push OS updates through Google Play, then the carriers lose control over the OS updates. Google and the Manufacturers can say “This is how Android works. Do you want Android at all?” The carriers would then have no choice.

          It’s the same as Samsung forcing the carriers to have one GS3 across all carriers. Before that, the carriers were requiring differentiation. Samsung just said “No!”, and the carriers gave up a losing battle.

          Everyone from the top down: Google, Manufacturers, and Users just need to stand up to the carriers and say, “this is how it’s going to be.” and then the carriers will lose their choke-hold on the industry.

          • jnt

            “like” or “+1” or whatever… 🙂

      • NathanDomier

        Progress has definitely been made – do you remember when gmail used to be part of the OS?

        The more they can break android into components that can be updated through the play store, the less problems we’ll have with getting updates. I don’t know how that would end up being received by average end users (what are all these crazy updates!? Kernel!?) but the slightly more technically literate would be all over it.

        And then there’s the people who never update apps ever… *sigh*

  • I think this pretty much cements it. There will be no second gen Nexus 7, nor any other phone or tablet unveiled at Google I/O this year. I think there’s a good chance we’ll see Android 4.3 (currently circulating in GLBenchmark and user agents as JellyBean_MR2) unveiled, but don’t expect any hardware. This makes my wallet breathe a sigh of relief. 😉

    • Well he said new devices. Meaning there could still be a new gen of nexus 7/10.

      • No way would you see a next gen Nexus 10 unless it was just a current-gen version with cell connectivity, which would be cool. The Nexus 10 launched just six months ago. No way is there an entirely new generation ready to launch.

        As far as the Nexus 7, it’s been a year, so it wouldn’t be all that shocking if they unveiled a next-gen Nexus 7, but if they do, it will officially have been the best kept secret in mobile history. With I/O 2 days away, we’d have seen it by now. We’d have had leaked photos, actual specs, manuals, something tangible. We have nothing.

        I say no new devices just due to this quote from him:

        It’s going to be different. It’s not a time when we have much in the way of launches of new products or a new operating system.

        • I wouldn’t consider refreshers as “new devices”. New device would ne Nexus phone of some sort.

          The nexus 10 definitely needs refreshed specs. Either octa or quad core. Etc.

          • Well, either way, I guess we’ll see which one of us is right on Wednesday! haha

          • Yeah haha.

            There has been new Nexus 7 leaks also. It’s on this site somewhere.

          • Yeah, but nothing concrete. There are no photos of it, and all we really have are analysts claiming specs that they’re expecting, etc. We still have nothing tangible that says “here’s proof that the device is real.”

    • I think it is the right time for a N7 refresh, but that’s it hardware-wise. Last year was the availability of Glass, Google’s first tablet, and the Nexus Q. That really is a lot of hardware to intro, even if it wasn’t all available next-day. Toning that down to a N7 refresh to herald 4.3 sounds like a good idea to me. That is, unless they want to have a separate event for the N7 refresh, but that doesn’t seem very “Google-y”

      • Or they squeeze another few months out of the Nexus 7, and unveil next gen phones and tablets at their yearly Nexus unveiling in October.

        We’ll have our answers on Wednesday I guess! haha

        • If you introduce too many products at once, they end up competing with each other for the consumer’s money. If you introduce them 5-6 months apart, consumers are more willing to buy both, rather than either/or. At the price point of the N7 and N4, its basically an “impulse buy”, and sticker shock of two $200-$300 devices in the cart at once is enough to deter some buyers, or make them rethink their purchase, which inevitably leads to fewer sales.

          • That’s definitely a good point.

        • trophynuts

          lol you have to remember if they do intro a N7 refresh they won’t give a firm actual release date and it will probably be two months away at least. You know google/android doesn’t believe in release dates. they like to keep you guessing.

          • Yeah but we had pictures of the manual for the Nexus 7 and other tangible evidence that it was real before I/O last year. We have nothing of that sort for this alleged successor. That’s my only point.

          • Think that was more troll than anything, but I agree with you there. That said, we knew nothing about the S4 until hours before the press conference, and absolutely zero about the next Transformer tablet, so its possible Asus has their leaks all but plugged.

          • Oy

            haha, you said “but plugged”.

            (I’ve already punched myself in the face for going there)

  • Motorola is just another partner is right. They can’t play favorites. They have to work together to bring many android phones.

  • geoff


  • 4n1m4L

    Better than ‘first’