Discouraged by Google I/O For Second Straight Year
I am an OSX / iPad user who came to Android after that really awesome Jelly Bean announcement at Google I/O 2012. I bought a Nexus 7 and later bought a Nexus 4, which is my current phone. But I've been increasingly less and less impressed with Google since. Their I/O this year had me rolling my eyes even though I didn't expect much and I'm surprised no one else is as disappointed in the direction(s) they seem to be going.
I'll outline my I/O gripes which also touch on many of my current issues with the platform:
The Death of Nexus Tablets
As much as rumors swirl re: a Nexus 9 or 8, it was clear with the marginal spec upgrade on the Nexus 7 last year and the lack of a Nexus 10 update that Google is moving away from Nexus tablets, something that drew me to Android in the first place. I sold my 2012 Nexus 7 after it started to slow down and thought I would buy the new one in 2013. And then I didn't...
A Move Away From Nexus in General
We've been assured that Google remains committed to the Nexus line. But, really, we should know better. While another Nexus device or two might be released, I really doubt we'll be seeing Google promoting the Nexus in two years time. And that's too bad, because Nexus devices are the best Android devices.
Stratification in Android is Only Getting Worse
Do you know how I use Android 4.4.4? With Nova Launcher. Because things like the transparent action bar are only available that way on my phone. Why are the same releases of Android different on different Nexus phones?! You tell me. Ditto for features like Google Now on the left, always listening home screen, etc.
Android L is Bringing Very Little To The Table
No one that I've read has called Google on it, but Android L is clearly played catch-up to iOS 7/8. If you've used an iOS device you know what inspired Google to go all-out with animated transitions. And to make matters worse, Google is dumbing down their multitasking. The multitasking UI in L looks incredibly inefficient. I don't want Chrome tabs and my apps mixed together and I don't know who does. But hey, Calculator looks cool!
And It Didn't Fix the Biggest Problems
Hangouts/Voice remain unintegrated (probably the biggest request by users going into I/O) and Photos/Camera is a mess. I now have two native camera apps and two native photo management apps on my phone. My biggest request? Some way to limit the amount of space on my phone HD that my photos/videos can take up before they just live in the cloud. Every few months I have to copy and batch delete photos/videos from my wife's 8GB Nexus 4 to free up space.
Smart Watches Aren't the Future
So you're saying I can order a pizza with my watch but I have to have my phone in hand/around for the watch to work? How stupid do you think I am? Smart watches are the 3D movies of tech. Why would I pay $3/$200 for an experience that's no better/worse than my current one? There might be a great wrist technology out there (curved screen wrist cuff that recharges when I swing my arms?) but it's far off (much like really good movie 3D).
No Mention of Google+
When Vic Gundotra left Google+ I stopped using it (aside from photos because I don't have many other good options) because it seemed the writing was on the wall. Vic was the main reason to believe in Google+. If Google has a 3 hr. keynote and doesn't mention it once I don't think there is better evidence that it's been given the kiss of death.
No Mention of Google Glass
Remember when Sergey Brin and Larry Page (and everyone at Google) were wearing Google Glass and showing off the cool stuff it could do? Google Glass (a technology I never really bought into because its inconvenience seemed to outweigh any benefits) seems to have been swept aside as well. There just isn't a consumer market for it.
The Biggest News At I/O Was The Ability To Use Android Apps in Chrome OS
I'm not sure why people aren't talking about this more, but the best, prettiest app experiences out there are mostly on mobile/tablet apps now and it's about damn time you could use them on your computer. Why isn't anyone talking about this? I don't know.
Google Has Burned Us Many Times Already
Google clearly has no problem letting much-loved things die but it looks like major parts of what people currently identify with Google: Google+, Glass, Nexus, the green Android mascot - are all being put out to pasture and at some point consumers are going to start looking elsewhere. You can't trust that anything you currently love about Google/Android might not be left for dead in a few years.
I love the freedom to customize Android but the app experience has always lagged behind iOS. That's something I've tolerated in exchange for a good/cheap device. But while Android seemed like it was at the forefront of the wave two years ago I don't know that it is anymore.
Unfortunately for Google, Android UI and design is spiraling of their control due to third-party modification, but they seem to have responded by making it even harder for users to have the ideal Android experience.
The Nexus line could have a UI that's very competitive with iOS but it seem to be heading down an increasingly fragmented, meandering road albeit one with pleasant animated transitions.