Google I/O 2009: HTML 5, Web Elements, App Engine, Google Earth, Android Hardware
Article by George Norman
On 28 May 2009
On the 27th of May, the Google I/O 2009 event kicked of in San Francisco; it is the largest developer conference of the year and it encompasses a series of sessions and product announcements that will in the end make the web a better platform for application development. Over the course of 2 days (May 27 and 28) the event will include a total of 80 technical sessions, 130 speakers will take the floor, and about 3,000 developers from 45 countries will attend.

With almost half a billion people using browsers nowadays, browsers that are based on open source technology, browsers that have seen their processing power increase 5 times over in less than a year, the focus during Google’s I/O 2009 event is on HTML 5. The functionality of HTML 5 allows developers to build unique and powerful web apps, ranging from graphics and location to local storage and background processing.


Vice President of Developer Product with Google, Vic Gundotra, comments: “Bet on the web. Its rate of innovation has dramatically accelerated over the past 12 months, giving rise to an open web platform that's fundamentally more capable and more sophisticated than even a year ago. The combination of HTML 5, a vibrant developer community, and the pervasiveness of modern web browsers is delivering a programming model and an end-user experience that will surprise and delight people.”

HTML 5, which has been in development for years now, is already supported by some browsers (to some degree at least). If you would like to take HTML 5 for a spin, the demos presented at the I/O event are available here.

Another product announced at I/O 2009 is Google Web Elements, the easy way to incorporate Google products into your own website or blog. You could for example incorporate the following to your web page/blog: Google Maps, Google News, YouTube videos, Google Friend Connect, and so on. All you have to do is copy and paste a few lines of code, choose some customization options and that’s it.

Moving on, Google also announced that App Engine will receive support for Java language. “Google is launching general availability of Java language support in Google App Engine, providing all developers with an end-to-end Java language solution for building AJAX web applications. An early look at Java language support in App Engine was released to a limited number of developers at Google's April 7 Campfire One developer event, and in the last two months more than 10,000 Java language applications have been deployed on the platform. Over 80,000 applications have been built on App Engine since it was launched in April 2008,” explained the Mountain View search engine giant.

The Google Earth for iPhone application, during the I/O event, saw the release of a new “Businesses” layer. The thing is that the Google Earth app is wonderful if you want to take a glance at satellite imagery of certain locations, but with the “Businesses” layer you can increase its functionality and usefulness by viewing different placemarks for different types of businesses.

Carmen Erni, GIS Specialist, explains: “We added a "Businesses" layer to Google Earth on iPhone, as well as to the "Geographic Web" folder in the desktop Google Earth version. To make them easily discoverable, you'll see them by default when you start the application next time. You'll find businesses like restaurants, bars, banks, gas stations, and grocery stores all just a touch away. By clicking on the icons, you'll get additional information like the telephone number, reviews, hours, and much more. And don't forget, as you zoom in further, more businesses become visible.”

Keeping with the smartphone theme we have going on here, Google also announced that by the end of 2009, we will get to play with at least 18 Android-powered smartphones.

Last but not least, the I/O event was also a good opportunity of talking about Google’s practice of not taking the Beta label off its products (I’m not counting Chrome 2.0 which shed its Beta tag recently). According to Product Management Director with Google Enterprise Products, this is a “minor annoyance and something you’ll see addressed in the not-too-distant future.” Google Docs Product Manager Jonathan Rochelle, also speaking on the subject of Google keeping the Beta tag on some apps indefinitely, added that the company is “going to deal with that very soon.” He also noted that “the term ‘beta’ as we know it in the software industry and the way it’s being used by Google is not really the same type of use.” While businesses think of a Beta as a product that is still being tested, Google does not treat a Beta as if it is still in Beta.

Tags: Google, I/O 2009, HTML 5, Web Elements, App Engine, Google Earth, Android Hardware, Beta
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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