Google Taps Flash for Google TV, Supercharges Android With Froyo

SAN FRANCISCO -- Google excited a packed hall of developers here during the wrap-up of its big developer's conference on Thursday. The search giant detailed the next release of its Android mobile operating system, the "Froyo" 2.2 version, and a brand-new product called Google TV that brings Web content to television users, both of which elicited applause.

At the heart of both efforts is Google's dedication to pressing ahead with its open source mobile OS, Linux-based Android, as well as its continued embrace of Adobe's Flash technology, which will be coming to the newest version of Android and will be the technology powering Google TV.

"It turns out that on the Internet, people use Flash," Google's vice president of engineering, Vic Gundotra, said in a keynote ahead of the Google TV announcement. The sarcastic reference was to Apple's controversial decision to keep Flash off the iPhone.

Earlier, Gundotra showed how a blank, orange screen displayed while trying to view Nickelodeon's Flash-powered Web site, something he said led his young daughter to ask the family switch to Android.

The next version of Android -- version 2.2, codenamed "Froyo" -- will include support for the Adobe Flash plug-in player for viewing multimedia content.

Android Froyo will also offer other new enhancements. Although it won't be available at launch, Google previewed a new capability that will let users select mobile apps on their PC or notebook and send them directly to their mobile device over the Internet without any tethering or hardwire connection to the device.

Android 2.2, expected to be available on handsets next month when the finished version of Flash 10.1 ships, also lets users store applications they download from the Android Marketplace to SD storage devices. It's also expected to be much faster than the current Android 2.1.

Advertising options have also been expanded. In a demo, Google showed how users could touch an ad shown on a portion of the screen, swipe to expand it for more content that might include a video and where to buy, and easily collapse it with another swipe to return to the original Web site.

In its Android developer blog, Google said some devices will receive the Android update as soon as a few weeks from now.

Google TV Lines Up Big-Name Tech Partners

The day's other big news centered on Google TV, which not only brings Web video to television, it can also be controlled by voice using an Android phone. In a demo, Google's Vincent Dureau spoke "Good Morning America" into his phone and the ABC morning talk show started playing on the TV.

Keyboards and new pointing devices will also be available for Google TV. The other key feature of Google TV is a quick search that lets users click to open a search box at any time that offers search results for both shows by title as well as by content. The results can be a mix of shows available on TV as well as the Web, including Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) huge library of millions of YouTube videos.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt brought an array of high profile partners for Google TV on stage including the CEOs of Adobe, Intel, Best Buy, DirectTV, Logitech and Sony. Sony said it will bring out an integrated Google TV set this fall, while Logitech will offer an add-on peripheral to bring Google TV to HD TV owners.

Google TV, which is powered by Intel's Atom processor and Adobe's Flash 10.1 software, is the platform name, but not a consumer brand, so Sony's system will be called the Sony Internet TV powered by Google.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini said its partnership with Google is "the earliest deepest and best alliance I've seen so far." He said other efforts at bringing the Web to TV "don't have this level of integration."

Added Schmidt, "It turns out it's much harder to marry a 50-year-old technology with new technology than we thought." He recounted a number of earlier efforts to bring the Internet to television. Ironically, Google had originally been based in the same Palo Alto offices of what had been the headquarters of one of those efforts in the '90s, WebTV, which was later bought by Microsoft.

Sony's CEO Howard Stringer said there will be no additional fees for accessing Google TV, but he said the company is not yet ready to announce the price of Sony Internet TVs.

"The genius of this Google platform is that it will enable whole new levels of consumer content," he said.

Logitech, which already offers the popular Harmony line of remote control devices, also plans a set of remotes and peripherals for GoogleTV.

Google: 'We screwed up'

Separately, Google co-founder Sergey Brin briefly addressed the controversy over Google's inadvertent collection of user's personal information as part of its StreetView data collection project. "We screwed up," Brin said during a press conference.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

TAGS:

Android 2.2, Google TV, Eric Schmidt, Adobe Flash 10.1

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