Blog Post

Google Planning for Android to Be Very Social Mobile OS

[qi:gigaom_icon_google-android] Google (s goog) is looking to make future versions of its Android operating system more social, said Andy Rubin, one of its creators and Google’s vice president of engineering (platforms), at an event in San Francisco earlier this morning. The event was held with T-Mobile USA to announce the launch of its newest Android-based phone, the MyTouch.

Frank Meehan, CEO of INQ Mobile, a speaker at our Mobilize 09 conference, must be really proud. He was the first to develop a device that specifically marries social networking to mobiles. And now everyone is doing it — including Google.
andyrubin.jpgWhen I asked Rubin today why the self-described open platform doesn’t feature a native Facebook app, he said that social networking would be a key feature in future versions of Android. Google recently released Android’s latest version — code-named “Cupcake” — and will soon follow with Donut, Eclair and Flan. (What’s with the pastry fetish?)

Rubin said that Google doesn’t believe that applications should be silos and wants to help develop ones that deeply enmesh various mobile experiences — Internet, voice and location, for example. It’s taking a similar approach to social networking. “We are making a social push and we are looking at a more integrated experience,” he said. He declined to give any more details, including which future release of Android will carry these features, but I suspect we’ll be seeing them sooner than later.

The reasoning is pretty simple — that nature of communications is changing from just voice to many different modes. “Address book needs to be redefined,” Rubin said. Absolutely. As I wrote earlier, “Like email and instant messaging, Facebook (and soon Twitter) are what we use to stay in touch with our friends, colleagues and family.”

Anyway, to make a long story short (or is it too late for that?), someday there will be a Facebook app for Android that is made by the Palo Alto-based social network and it’s going to be as good as the one it has on the iPhone.

9 Responses to “Google Planning for Android to Be Very Social Mobile OS”

  1. Why should the question about a Facebook app be addressed to Google? It’s not like they are preventing anybody from developing or installing such an app on an Android phone.

    Om – I don’t understand your Facebook fascination. Sure, they are the no. 1 social networking site right now, but they are still just a social networking site. MAJORITY of the people in the US do not use Facebook and they never will. And when the next new shiny social network site comes, people will move on to it, and Facebook will become a ghost-town like MySpace or worse.

    Facebook may be what SOME people use to stay in touch with people TODAY. Email may be what MOST people use for communications TODAY. But the FUTURE belongs to an integrated application like Google Wave which contains all forms of communications – email, chat, voice, shared docs and apps, shared media, etc. – within itself. And, here’s the brilliant part, an application like Google Wave which can be embedded into any other form of communication – like your email, blog, etc.


  2. Funtomas

    It’s not about realizing social apps rule the virtual world, it’s about realizing the 3″ screen is just not enough for writing your essay at Google Docs. That’s it.

  3. Could have sworn the hesitation is on Facebook’s side. Something about their supposed beef with Google. Probably something silly that won’t matter in a few months.

  4. It is true that future mobiles need to be more social and capable to provide integrated experience to stay in the market. It seems, Google has realized this inevitable nature of communications.

  5. Another issue is that there are no viral/social channels for distributing applications on these mobile devices. For example, with the iPhone, I can’t even build an app that broadcasts my frequently used or favorite apps to friends and contacts. I’m sure this is because Apple wants to keep a tight lid on app promotion and distribution.

  6. Mark K

    @Om Your very right about the changing nature of communications. Have you used SocialScope? They seem to be trying to bring that vision to multiple mobile platforms in unified way. I’m using the beta on my Bold and its become the 3rd party app I use the most. They only have Twitter and Facebook right now, but say more networks will be rolling out.