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Google's API Riddle

Google services are everywhere -- but the company's lack of long-term commitment to products and APIs make it tough to know which ones to include in new apps.

At the Google I/O conference in San Francisco last week, the search giant revealed more plans to push its technologies into the lives of essentially all individuals. In this sense, Google's reach and capabilities put it far ahead of any other company in terms of the access it already has to personal information. A typical tech user who relies on a few selected services might well depend on the company for their email, phone, tablet OS, maps, browser, and of course, search. If privacy settings are not locked down, there is almost nothing of immediate importance that Google won't know about that user.

So much information has drawn scrutiny, especially from European authorities, who carefully monitor what Google collects and how it uses the data. As importantly, the EU provides its denizens with the ability to opt out of Google search results. In this sense, the appreciation that you and I are the product Google is selling to advertisers, is far more advanced in Europe than it is in the United States.

With so much information already at its disposal, what more could Google want? The I/O show, which is the company's annual confab for developers, focused on wearable computing. The giveaway was an Android-based watch that could be tethered via Bluetooth to an Android phone. Doing this turned out to be a lengthy exercise in yak-shaving with an end result that made users immediately aware of the dearth of practical apps. At present, you can use such a watch to receive phone calls, tell time, set alarms, and count your steps. Yeah, the net benefit over the phone that sits in your pocket for the whole setup to work is that it serves as a pedometer.

We're still in early days, of course, which is why Google was giving out the watches to begin with. But I suspect wearable computing needs a lot better killer apps to drive demand among users. If it catches on, though, Google will likely know even more intimate details of its users' lives.

Read the rest of this article on Dr.Dobb's.

Prior to joining Dr. Dobb's Journal, Andrew Binstock worked as a technology analyst, as well as a columnist for SD Times, a reviewer for InfoWorld, and the editor of UNIX Review. Before that, he was a senior manager at Price Waterhouse. He began his career in software ... View Full Bio

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Andrew Binstock
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Andrew Binstock,
User Rank: Author
7/2/2014 | 6:15:51 PM
Re: Go very much a favored technology
"Go remains a highly favored technology at Google and is being widely adopted by developers."

Honestly, I'm not seeing that. I see Google talking about it and scattered early adopters. And among those early adopters, I see an equal level of interest in Rust. To be fair, it's extremely difficult to gauge interest in languages at the beginning of their adoption curve, so you might well be entirely right in your assessment.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
7/2/2014 | 3:20:57 PM
Re: Go very much a favored technology
I wouldn't read too much into floor booth placement regarding Go. But Google does need to do something to erase the perception that any product may be axed at any time.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
7/2/2014 | 3:05:04 PM
Re: Go very much a favored technology
I think that there will be some awesome apps for wearables to come - just not yet. Some of the opprtunities would likely be in health and fitness - although what's out there right now is kind of ho-hum. 

If apps could be developed that can really help users to "hack" workouts or thier bodies to a higher level of performance, not that is something people will surely pay for. 
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
7/2/2014 | 2:02:38 PM
Go very much a favored technology
Go remains a highly favored technology at Google and is being widely adopted by developers. I keep hearing about the latest thing developed in Go. I suspect the Go booth was on the expo floor to pull developers into that scene, even though as you point out, it is a  highly unsatsifactory one for interaction with developers. Get any sense that marketing rules at Google these days? 
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