Friday, October 17, 2008

The incredible world of Google syncing

Today is the day some people received the Android G1 (not me, where the #@!$# is it? I want mine :-) Google has started to publicize some of the features, so it is now getting interesting.

What many people do not know is that the Android SDK has a very limited set of applications. Therefore, nobody in the developer community has seen what is going to be on the phone. Google (and the OHA) add apps on Android phones based on carrier request - so it seems - and many of those applications won't ever appear on the SDK. Some very basic, like calendar for example. Now we can finally see it. But we still can't have an API for it (remember the iPhone?). However, hacking is supposed to be easy (and legal). We'll see.

What is clear is that the phone is Google Google Google (surprise!). You access the phone with your Gmail username and password - you have to have one... Magically, email, contacts and calendar from Google will show up on the phone. And they will be kept in sync.

The magic of sync, from a Google engineer:
"It occurred to us that the best way to synchronize these various pieces of information is to let the device do it on its own while you're not looking, so you never have to think about it."
It is great (hey, did they steal one of my lines?? I should have trademarked it ;-) as long as you use Google. If you don't, you are going to have to use a separate crappy email app (one that does not even support attachments...) and suffer. Those that might have two email addresses or even work (!!!) would be in trouble. Two apps, different, not integrated. One good and one bad. One with push and one not. One synced and one not. With the need of merging your work and home address book into one. Same for calendar.

Then you have to give both to Google to store and own: ask your IT at work if they like the idea...

I am not surprised. The Android phone is Google. Nothing else. We'll see if the open source angle of it will surface, one day. It would be nice. Otherwise, it would just be an empty marketing statement. And empty marketing statement backfire in open source...