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Android founder says next major wave of computing will be AI

Nicole Lee , @nicole
10.08.15
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In a talk at Code/Mobile, Android founder Andy Rubin said that he believes the next major wave of computing will be in the realm of artificial intelligence. Rubin, who left Google to start a hardware startup incubator called Playground Global, said that after spending some time in robotics at Google, he believes the next big frontier is in devices that don't have screens, like traffic lights or your dishwasher. "Robotics and automation are going to permeate our lives," he said, adding that intelligence from the cloud will be the new thing. Seeing as Playground has invested in companies like castAR, which makes projected augmented reality glasses, and Connected Yard, which provides detailed chemical analysis of swimming pools, he's already putting his money where his mouth is.

Of course, he hasn't forgotten about mobile either. Indeed, he's particularly proud that his team at Google decided to make Android an open operating system and didn't put any restriction on screen sizes, because that allowed for greater consumer choice (he isn't a fan of the word "fragmentation" because it has a negative connotation). Now, in a world where Android and iOS are the two major phone operating systems, he says there's a danger in sticking to a duopoly especially if their announcements are parallel and are in lockstep.

"The worst thing that could happen from a product perspective would be slowing down innovation," he said. He did add that he thinks Windows 10 is doing a fine job -- "They've been phenomenal in changing user perception" -- and praises Microsoft's willingness to have Office products on Android and iOS as well, because it shows the company is open-minded.

Lastly, he thinks a huge innovation in the past decade is that US carriers no longer have the stranglehold on consumers as they once did. Before, 2-year contracts were practically mandatory if you wanted to be able to afford a phone. Now, with payments plans like T-Mobile's Jump, AT&T's Next and now Apple's own upgrade plan, you can get an unlocked phone relatively affordably. This, he says, makes US closer to China, where 80 percent of the phones sold are in the open market. "This is the biggest change in the last 10 years in mobile," he said. "It's huge."

"I'm an optimist on technology," he said about the future of mobile and consumer choice. "I think there's unsatisfied consumer desire and it needs to be satisfied."

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