Google's I/O conference: New operating system, tablet

Google engineering director Chris Yerga speaks during a press event at Google headquarters on February 2, 2011 in Mountain View, Calif. The search giant is expected to announce quite a few upgrades for devices.

You remember Hall and Oates.

In the videos, you tend to notice Daryl Hall. Tall, blond, good-looking, did most of the lead vocals.

When it comes to platforms for smartphones and tablet computers, Apple is Hall. Android is Oates. Not as glamorous but doing a lot of important work without as much glory.

This is a big week for Oates. Google's IO conference kicks off tomorrow. It's all about building new things for Android. The company is expected to make a lot of announcements.

Brian Barrett from Gizmodo.com says a new operating system for Android phones is coming. It's named Jelly Bean. Barrett says, "What we are looking at is probably a better browser. Google Chrome is something that many people use on the desktop. It's probably going to make its way finally onto its phone. And then you're going to see the normal advancements. It's going to be faster, more battery-efficient."

Barrett's site, Gizmodo, has been running what it says are photos of a new Google tablet that may be announced: The Nexus 7. He says it'll be a lot like Amazon's Kindle Fire. Priced about the same, but more powerful. He says it'll be more built around watching videos and playing games rather than getting a lot of work done. "I think we have yet to see a tablet that's really designed to be a productivity machine. We got a glimpse of Microsoft's Surface tablet the other week, they're not going to be out for several months, and they might have the best shot at it, but for now, tablets, they're primarily meant to download videos, play games, and Google's app offerings have really been catching up to iOS lately, so you'll find a lot of the same experiences you can get on the iPad, you'll find on the Nexus tablet, just on a slightly smaller screen."

Still, anyone getting into the tablet game now is getting there late. Joshua Topolsky from TheVerge.com says Google's got its work cut out for it. "The tablet is still a tough sell for Google because they have yet to communicate to consumers that it's something they want to watch movies on or play games on or you can buy music on. I don't think people are really aware of Google's ecosystem as far as content offerings go."

So what does the IO conference mean to you if you have an Android phone? Good things, says Topolsky. "They're going to alter or improve a lot of their core applications, so you'll see the stand alone apps, things like Google Maps or Google Drive, even if you're not getting updated to the most recent version of Android, the newest one they announce, you'll see some of the benefits of those come to your devices because those are updated as standalone applications."

**

A lot of people are mad at Facebook right now. Not me. I'm very happy with the company.

See, Facebook has made a subtle change on users' profile pages. Go check it out. Your email contact field has been changed to your name at facebook.com. So if you wanted your Gmail or Yahoo mail there, it's gone, replaced by your Facebook email, the one people never use.

It's easy to fix. Go to your profile page, click About, go to the contact information, click edit, then choose which email addresses you want displayed.

Annoying that Facebook makes you do that. So why am I thankful? Because by going in and messing with your page, Facebook has reminded you that it's not your page. It's information you've given to Facebook. Facebook still owns everything on Facebook. Facebook wants you to use its email instead of your regular one so you'll be on Facebook more. Then you'll see more ads and click on more ads and Facebook can sell more ads for more money.

We've said it before, if you're not paying for it, you're not the customer, you're the product. Thanks, Facebook, for the reminder of how this whole system works.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.

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