Extreme Makeover: Google Edition: How the Tech Giant Wants to “Androidify” Your Home
In the dictionary under “P” for “petty,” you’ll find the letter “f” that signifies Facebook’s logo.
In addition to Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) stealing Google’s (Nasdaq: GOOG) I/O conference thunder last week, with the news that it’s buying Skype for $8.5 billion, Facebook has also taken a few shots at Google.
Turns out PR firm Burson-Marsteller has recently pushed newspapers and blogs to investigate a Google social networking feature, “Social Circle.” Basically, this was nothing more than a petty smear campaign that Facebook funded, amid its claims that Google is snatching data from Facebook to beef up Social Circle.
Whether that’s true or not, the fact that Facebook is willing to play dirty suggests that it’s afraid of Google’s foray into social networking. And it should be, especially now that Google is basing 25% of its employees’ bonuses this year on progress in the sector.
But it’s not just Facebook who should be afraid of Google’s expanding reach. Andy Rubin, Chief of Google’s Android operating system, thinks that “everything should be Androidified.”
He’s about to get his wish…
Google’s New Remote Control for Your House
At its developer conference last Tuesday, Google announced a new project for its Android that takes the experience way beyond mobile devices and social networking.
Dubbed, “Android@Home,” this platform essentially turns your home’s electronics into a fully connected network. And it’s all controlled with your smartphone or tablet. In other words, your Android device becomes a universal remote control for anything from the air conditioner and security system, to the stove and dishwasher.
You just plug the electronic device into a special receiver. And mobile apps let you control everything on a mobile device.
For example, did you run out to the mall and forget to turn off the stove before leaving? No problem. Just turn it off, using your smartphone.
And if you want to turn up the heat so it’s warm when you get home, pull out your tablet and it’s done.
Of course, home automation programs aren’t new. Products like Z-wave – now owned by Sigma Designs (Nasdaq: SIGM) – have offered similar functionality for years.
But as PC World says, “They haven’t yet caught fire with consumers… And now that Android boasts more than 100 million activations, perhaps this time around, home automation software will have its heyday.”
Google’s One-Size-Fits-All Project
One of the biggest factors that puts Android@Home ahead of the pack is its ability to work with any system and device.
Like CNNMoney says, while “your iPhone can control your Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) TV, and Windows Phone can control your Windows PC… Android@Home was developed as an open protocol that can be used by any connected device and controlled by any wireless device or computer.”
So Google’s the first to make the platform universally compatible. And just like Android for phones, it’s free to use.
But a simple on/off switch isn’t going to cut it in terms of wowing consumers. That’s why Google plans to kick the project up a notch by working directly with manufacturers and giving them access to the real magic makers – the app developers.
Apps Should Make or Break the Platform
Google is already working with LED manufacturer Lighting Science Group (OTC: LSCG) on the first Android@Home-enabled LED bulb, due out by the end of the year. And Google demonstrated how easy it is to control lighting using the platform. (And no, there’s no clapping required.)
But that’s just the beginning. As Google engineering director, Joe Britt says, “To bring this vision to reality, we’re partnering with several industry players [and] opening the platform up to everyone to do whatever they can imagine… We don’t think we’re going to come up with what the killer apps are… But by embedding the ability to control any device in your home, we think it enables a crazy number of new opportunities.”
Indeed, once this tool gets into developers’ hands, the sky’s the limit.
First search, then mobile, now home automation. So Facebook can try all it wants to tarnish Google’s reputation. The search giant’s path to world domination is well underway – with or without stealing Facebook’s data.