12
May
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On the night before Google I/O 2011, I posted an open call for any questions you might have had for Google core developers. And you delivered - within a few hours, we had over 50 questions of varying complexities, and I realized I was in trouble. Office hours are meant for developers asking dev questions, whereas most of the ones you've asked were about policies and availability. Still, I proceeded to ask away at office hours and at the end of each session, fearing being shunned forever. Unsurprisingly, some devs would force me to move on after realizing the volume of questions, but some persistently tried answering, referring me to the right people along the way if they didn't know something.

Here is the general problem with these kinds of questions: devs will not release any information about future products that is not currently announced. They may hint at something, but they won't openly say it. Therefore, questions about specific new features in Ice Cream Sandwich and other future plans were most of the time answered with a "No Comment." These guys all receive media training (unfortunately :-]).

So, here are the questions I was able to get answers for, followed by the list of ones that will remain open.

Addressed Questions

Google TV Honeycomb 3.1 and Android Market, why the delays? When? Market before the Honeycomb update?

The market will be released together with Honeycomb - there are no plans to decouple them and release one before the other. Tentative date is end of summer. Delays are engineering driven - the right solution (i.e. going to Honeycomb and Honeycomb itself took time).

 

Will there be any efforts to clean up The Market? While openness is great, it’s caused the Market to turn into a mess and exploring new apps is almost impossible within the current UI and the amount of junk applications out there. Helping to clean up the Market will also help devs actually make money on their paid apps.

The initial effort was announced on the 2nd day of I/O. You can read about it here and here.

 

How about slicing and dicing the Market? Filtering by OS version, new releases, sales, etc? Appbrain does it very well.

See above.

 

When is Honeycomb going open source?

Not before Ice Cream Sandwich, if at all. No planned announcements. They were basically saying that this is exactly what Andy Rubin was saying here, even though I found that blog post a bit vague ("when it's ready" could have meant Honeycomb as well - guess not).

 

When will Google Talk allow video and voice chat on other devices?

This will depend on carriers and manufacturers. The only prerequisites at the moment are Android 2.3.4+, a front-facing camera, and carrier support allowing P2P data transfer for video and audio, which is currently being blocked by some. GL 2 and Neon support helps - performance suffers greatly otherwise. Internally, Google Talk uses H264 SVC (scalable vector) for encoding video.

 

Multiple accounts in Google Talk?

Multiple accounts were introduced in Honeycomb and will roll into Ice Cream Sandwich - the Gingerbread version and below will probably not receive many more changes at all.

 

When can we give apps as gifts to my friends? Like Apple Redeem Code.

It's on the list - not in the next month, but definitely on the list.

 

When will Arabic be supported?

BiDi (bidirectional) is currently high on the priority list, but it'll be done when it's ready, together with other right-to-left languages, like Hebrew.

 

When can we pay in the Android Market through carriers in Europe?

No specific announcements but the jump in the number of apps purchased in the U.S. once carrier billing was launched was so good that they're actively pursuing more carriers.

 

Android gift cards similar to iTunes gift cards?

They're working on it.

 

Will we ever get native screen snapshots?

Wasn't high on priority list at all, security considerations of apps taking screenshots of things (though I personally think it would be the perfect case to introduce a new permission and force app that take screenshots to use it). And then there's this, though I don't know of any software that is able to utilize it, and the Android team members I spoke with about it weren't sure.

 

Will there be a video/movie store to go along with Music store?

Yes, already released. See this, this, and this.

 

ICS version number?

Not yet known - version numbers are not important and are decided oftentimes a few weeks before release. Devs were not sure why people are fascinated with version numbers.

 

What are they doing to standardize the Android platform to stop fragmentation, and make it easier for developers to test their apps? Developers shouldn’t have to buy each phone where their app is not working properly. In a couple of years there will be over 1000 Android phone models. What are developers going to do then if this continues?

The new Android Alliance should be a great start.

More tests in the Android CTS.

Apps should work most of the time across devices, and it's likely that they only break because you're using an unpublished API. If you think you found a problem, file a bug.

 

Desktop Gtalk client update?

No comments were given because it's not related to Android.

 

Why does the Developer Console not have consistent updates?

It's being worked on continuously - you should see improvements as time passes.

 

Nexus S for Verizon?

None of them would release anything about unannounced devices, even if they knew something.

 

I’d love to see you try and get some Google people admitting to which custom rom they use/like. And which phones?

All of them use Nexus devices which run Google's own OS. They test various nightlies and internal releases all the time, so it doesn't make sense for them to go to custom ROMs. Plus, the need for security within Google's networks discourages them from using anything not approved by Google.

However, they had nothing but good things to say about Cyanogen and the rest of the community.

 

More countries with paid apps? South Africa, Indonesia, Romania, etc.

Answered on the 2nd day of I/O with 99 new countries. Specific ones are listed here - all the countries in the question are now included.

 

Do they plan on building some Android development tools themselves, besides the integration with Eclipse and other IDE’s? Are they going to make designing app UI’s easier in Android? iOS developers have it so easy because they have so many design elements to choose from. Why can’t Android developers get the same type of resources? It would make it easier for new developers to make quality apps.

Continuous improvements are being made to the tools by Tor's and Xavier's teams. Keep watching the latest tools and ADT releases. For some latest improvements that are planned, watch Tor's and Xav's talk from I/O here.

 

What’s being done about battery power besides bigger or more batteries?

Nothing specific - continuous improvements in AOSP. A lot of times you can blame the manufacturer of the device and radios for poor battery life.

 

Will future releases ever allow two programs on the screen? I use GPS and music player all the time. It would be nice if 2/3rds of the screen was GPS and 1/3rd my music player controls. That way I don’t have to swipe through the quick menu to skip a song, then swipe back to GPS while driving.

No specific answer to this. They wouldn't give out something like that before it's time.

 

Unanswered Questions

These were some of the questions that were left without answers, unfortunately, but I'd like to get them answered in the future (there were even more questions that I'm not including here).

 

When can we finally pay for apps via PayPal?

 

Android Game Center rumor?

 

What functionality will we be seeing in the next release of Android (Ice Cream Sandwich)? ActionBar on phones?

 

App privacy concerns, faking permissions, etc - any improvements coming to that?

 

Separate the UI overlays from the OS even more? Toggle them on and off?

 

Are there any plans for a decent app to manage contacts?  

 

When will the Android browser sync with Chrome? Both bookmarks and passwords?

When will I be able to spell check in the Gmail client?
When will I be able to accept a meeting in the Gmail client?
Save attachments in gmail?

 

Why was AVI container support removed in Honeycomb?
Will you be adding it back?
Why did you add WebM support without supporting the Matroska (MKV) container it uses.

 

It’s REALLY easy to use a virtual private network (VPN) on iPad. Why is it SO DIFFICULT (and almost impossible) to accomplish the same on Android? What is the team doing to make VPN on android ‘just work’ (to use an ios cliche)?
Layer 3 VPN?

 

How do end-users change their local currency when purchasing apps? I live in Germany, have a German credit card, but the market always tries to charge me in New Zealand dollars (I used to live in New Zealand).

 

How do I get my web Market language to stick to my own preference rather than being decided by GeoIP? If I travel to the Netherlands, I don't want to see Dutch and the local currency. There is a way to change the language for a specific request on the bottom of the Market, but it doesn't stick. Really annoying.

 

Is Android going to better be able to control resource utilization of apps?

 

Could you add password protection to Android Market?

 

When will the Bluetooth Stack in Android be updated to the latest BlueZ Stack. Problem: Many Bluetooth Headsets supports AVRCP 1.4, but the Android OS does not. Therefore, NO current Android phone will display titles on the headset. Android (which is open source) is using an open-source Bluetooth stack called BlueZ (http://www.bluez.org/), which only supports AVRCP 1.0. In order to get track titles, you need 1.3 or higher.

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • Coldman

    Thanks for trying - the fact that you brought them up maybe will get them to check up later and hopefully stick in their heads that people are asking about these things and they matter.

  • http://royblumenthal.com/portfolio Roy Blumenthal

    Brilliant work, dude! Thanks for missioning! And I hope you had an amazing conference.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Sure did - thanks!

  • Taoufix

    Thanks a lot for taking the time and effort to transmit your blog followers questions.

  • Vince

    God bless you, Artem. You really do care for your readers. It was very insightful reading your posts and the answers straight from the "guys".

  • Me

    "When is Honeycomb going open source?

    Not before Ice Cream Sandwich, if at all."

    They're not going to Open Source Honeycomb?! At all?! WTH.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Well, they did say when this issue first came out that they will release it once the code is cleaned up for phones, and ICS happens to be just that - the convergence of phones, tablets, and Google TV.

  • MR

    Isn't one question missing? When will the SD Card Reader work? Isn't Motorola/consumers waiting on some Android code for it to work properly without needing to root and activate the reader?

  • Moty

    I really wonder how many more years/decades it'll take before Android supports right-to-left languages. I have an android phone worth 600 dollars (galaxy s2) but that just doesn't support that basic feature. VERY DISSAPOINTING!

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