What I Hope To See From Google During I/O

When it comes to Google I’m largely all-in.  I use Gmail, Calendar, Chrome, Android, and Search.  I develop Android apps.  I moderate an Android forum.

However, I’m no fanboy.  Google has serious problems.  Take this list of Google issues that I came up with with help from the users of the forum I moderate:

  1. The list of apps you’ve installed on Google Play is horrible.  Apparently, it can only list 240 apps.  My list stops with apps having a name starting with the letter “M”.  You can’t sort or filter it in any way.
  2. Google Music uses an antiquated shuffle algorithm wherein its not uncommon to get a song repeating a few tracks after it just played.  This has been reported all over the internet and it’s been almost a year since the app was released.
  3. The Google Voice app has all sorts of bugs.  Enough so, that many days I regret having moved my voicemail over to it.  The app had two very minor updates this year to add minor features, and then the previous update to the app was in September.  September of 2010.
  4. There’s no tablet version of major Google apps.
  5. No easily accessible option to back up and restore your phone to make switching phones painless.  The functionality is there in the adb developer tool…there’s just no UI for the common end-user to use.
  6. No built in way to remote wipe your phone from your Google account.
  7. No MMS via Voice.
  8. Talk, Messenger, Hangouts, Voice…why have all these different real-time communication tools?  Why isn’t it all just one app, or even built-in to Android?
  9. Google Tasks is terribly simple and is a stagnant product.
  10. Android’s back button behavior is too complicated.  While there are rules that govern its functionality, they are too obtuse and, even I, a seasoned user and developer get confused about the behavior.
  11. In general managing your Google Account with regards to your Android device is a pain.  For example, you can’t change the Gmail account associated with your Android devices because you can’t transfer app ownership.
  12. The Google Reader app had horrible problems with the article list jumping around whilst scrolling through the list.  This showstopper bug finally got fixed this month.  The app was released in December, 2010.

There is a root problem you’ll find winding through all these issues, and that problem is this:

Google comes up with great ideas, releases them to the world before they’re fully-baked, and then mostly abandons them.

A perfect example of this was brought up by an internet acquaintance of mine.  In August of 2010, Google released Voice Actions.  This product worked (works?) pretty good.  Here’s how you use it:

Speak any of these commands to perform a Voice Action on your phone:

  • send text to [contact] [message]
  • listen to [artist/song/album]
  • call [business]
  • call [contact]
  • send email to [contact] [message]
  • go to [website]
  • note to self [note]
  • navigate to [location/business name]
  • directions to [location/business name]
  • map of [location]

And of course, you can still conduct a Google search using your voice.

Google took this fantastic product and then…did nothing with it.  It was last updated 1 year ago for some bug fixes.  In the mean time, Apple came out with Siri, which is arguably a better product in many (most?) ways, and still…Google has done nothing with it.

Now, of course, there’s all sorts of rumors about a huge update in this space coming from Google.  But that doesn’t negate the fact that Google just kind of sit there with no incremental improvements while letting Apple gain more and more mindshare with Siri.

What I most hope to get from Google at I/O is a commitment to their products.

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