Zero To Google

General Hardware Scoops + Reviews

Google i/o Day 2!

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With Google already pushing Android to tablets, does Chrome OS have any use?

On Day 2 of Google i/o, what we saw was lots and lots of Chrome OS, finally ready for primetime after months of open source beta tasting and almost six months after Google gave out CR-48s (which sadly I didn’t get). Stay with me as I try to recap everything that happened!

One. Improvement to Chrome Browser

With Google already pushing version 12 of Chrome into beta testing, the company announced plans to bring even more dramatic features into the browser, already 160 million active users strong. One feature we saw was voice search on Chrome, which is futuristic but not really useful as it may be in cellphones or tablets. It’s not that Google’s voice search is horrible (it’s fantastic), but I think user can type just as fast on keyboard as he/she can speak, unless if it’s a really long phrase. However, speech-to-translate feature looked really awesome for those who don’t speak English. Other features included were GPU acceleration, which Google has tried to integrate into the browser for months, as well as improvement of Chrome App Store. Which brings us into…

Two. ANGRY BIRDS! And More Changes to Chrome App Store

For hands-on with Angry Birds, go here.

Chrome Apps... Now to entire World.

Now, Chrome apps are available internationally, in 41 languages. In-app payments are also introduced, with Google charging only 5% compared to Apple’s 30% cut. Also, as I mentioned earlier, Angry Birds is now on Chrome. I can already look forward to employees playing Angry Birds in their day jobs. And me in library during lunch, if the library ever allows install of Chrome on its computers. I do have to mention that Angry Birds is available (for $ 4.99) on Intel’s AppUp, App store for netbooks but still compatible with every computers out there.

Three. Chrome OS! Education and Business Plan!

Laptop Pimp

Imagine this for your secondary machine?

Google also introduced some new features to Chrome OS, while announcing the plan to release the Chrome OS-based laptops in June 15. File systems and media players are added in (although Chromebooks using SSDs, I wonder how much movies and songs they are able to hold) as well as offline mode for Google apps as well as New York Times, Angry Birds, Salon, and much more. They also are fully hackable, with ability to install Linux and all.

Two laptops, deemed “Chromebooks” were announced, one from Samsung and one from Acer. Samsung version has 1280 by 800, 12.1-inch screen with 8.5 hour of battery life for $ 429 with WiFi and $ 499 with 3G. Acer version is tad cheaper, launching with 11.6-inch, 1366 by 768 display and 6.5 hour of battery life. Both laptops feature 16GB of SSD and dual-core Atom N570 (although it’s not known whether they have discrete GPU/Broadcom Graphic Accelerator or not). Acer laptop looks like…. Acer laptop, while Samsung laptop looks downright sexy for something that only costs $ 429. 3G option is also thrown in for Samsung for $ 70 extra, with 100MB of 3G free every month for two years, courtesy of Verizon.

Behold the beauty of $ 429 laptop.

Also, plan was announced to fully push Chrome OS into schools and companies. Under Google’s Chromebook for Business/Education plan, companies would only pay $ 28 ($ 20) a month per laptop per user (with a three-year contract) and get full software and hardware support, as well as warranty and full hardware upgrade after three-year contract. While cloud-based OS still has its quirks, I do strongly believe Chrome OS with Google Docs (if they can put more features in) have what it takes to replace traditional computers in schools and non-professional (aka. not Photoshop/Final Cut/coding applications dependent) companies, especially when what lot of people do is just create word documents and surf the Web. Although iPad is good substitution, it costs relatively expensive compare to full hardware and software support as well as hardware upgrade every three years offered by Google just for $ 1008/$ 720 every 3 years, not to mention that it lacks keyboard. I feel like only rival to this Chromebook for Business idea is ironically, Asus Eee Pad Transformer with Keyboard Dock or Atrix’s laptop dock (if smartphone’s performance increases dramatically in next year or so to support resource-intensive web apps). Those devices are relatively cheap, zippy, cloud-based as well, and has much more apps than what Chrome OS will launch with (Transformer supports 200,000 Android apps written for phones, although some are incompatible). They also have decent keyboards and Google Doc-support (with QuickOffice app), must have for students and workers. This, obviously, is the fragmentation problem that Google must try to solve very quickly. Chrome competing with Android will just kill off Chrome OS, with Android already gaining massive momentum seemingly everywhere.

What’s Next?

Plenty of services were just “announced,” meaning that we are still waiting for services to be actually released. Also, there are still many improvements to be made. Music service and movie services definitely need more label support, for instance, and Honeycomb still hasn’t caught up to iPad in terms of UI fluidness. Android Market is still a mess (which Google is trying to fix, thankfully) and defragmentation movement must go far beyond 18-month update policy (perhaps requirement that all devices, if hardware is capable, be updated within 2 months after official release of the new version?).  However, even though all this flaws still plague the company, it seems like updates and announcements in Google i/o is definitely continuing the momentum of company on a roll.

Goodbye, Google i/o. See you next year!

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Written by Geek Park

May 12, 2011 at 10:14 PM

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