Head of Android Talks About Tablets, Steve Jobs, and Siri

By , Oct 20, 2011

Andy Rubin, Senior VP of Mobile at Google, is considered the head of the Android platform. He leads the team that develops the Android OS for the plethora of handset makers that partner with Google.

Rubin sat down with veteran journalist Walt Mossberg at the AsiaD conference yesterday to talk about Android and his view of the mobile consumer market. He talked specifically about the state of Android tablets, his view of Apple post-Steve Jobs, and Siri…

On Tablets

“I don’t think there should be apps specific to a tablet.”

Yeah, Rubin said that. After This is my next asked the Android king why his OS lacks a good collection of tablet-optimized apps, Rubin responded, “I don’t think there should be apps specific to a tablet. If someone makes an ICS app it’s going to run on phones and it’s going to run on tablets.” He also said, “the Twitter phone app works fine on a tablet.”

What utter rubbish. Like MG Siegler says, Rubin’s definition of “works fine” must be “meh’ is good enough.” The main reason the iPad has sold so well is because developers have created beautiful, tablet-optimized apps. Can you imagine using an iPad with nothing but shrunken iPhone apps?

In terms of numbers, Rubin said that there were about, “6 million Android tablets out there,” noting that it was a “healthy start.” To put that into perspective, Apple sold over 11 million iPads in the last fiscal quarter alone.

On Steve Jobs

“Apple will certainly miss Steve’s leadership, but now it’s time for the other guys to step up.”

That’s what Rubin had to say about Steve Jobs’ death. When asked about how Apple will change post-Steve, Rubin said, “The DNA in the people walking the halls at Apple is a very powerful combination of the arts and computer science, and I don’t think that’s changed with Steve’s passing. That combination of creativity and computer science, it’s still there. Apple will certainly miss Steve’s leadership, but now it’s time for the other guys to step up.”

On Siri

“I don’t believe that your phone should be an assistant.”

Rubin believes that a phone is a tool for communicating with other people, not a personal butler. He told Walt Mossberg, “Your phone is a tool for communicating. You shouldn’t be communicating with the phone; you should be communicating with somebody on the other side of the phone.”

It’s hard to argue that people don’t want to talk to their phones when the iPhone 4S is Apple’s fastest-selling phone ever. When asked about how he sees voice technology evolving in the coming years, Rubin said, “We’ll see how pervasive it gets.”

In case you didn’t know, that’s code for “We’ll sit back, watch Apple succeed, and try to play catch-up.” People love Siri, and the smartphone is already a computer in every sense of the word, not just a “phone.” People want to be able to have their phone tell them the latest game score or weather forecast. The smartphone game is about so much more than communication with other people — it’s about giving people access to data and tools that only desktop computers could have offered 5 years ago.

You can read the full play-by-play of Rubin’s interview at AsiaD for more on what the Android boss had to say.

It’s good to know that Apple doesn’t have to really worry about its main competitor right now. Android is still trying to figure out how to put the “smart” in smartphone.

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  • Max

    God!! How many times do we hear this!!! Some says that apple is doing it wrong and then everyone starts copying them! Microsoft first laughted at the first iPhone saying “Who’s going to buy a $500 phone with no button?” and look now! Let them all watch as Apple continues to change the world.

  • Amd

    with all due respect, this is a very cheap article.

    • The Regulator

      with all due respect you troll, that was a very cheap reply. maybe you should elaborate a little more before clicking (submit comment).

      • Jack

        I do agree. This is a cheap article that cheaply criticize phrases out of context. For instance communicating with your phone as apposed to other people cannot be simply justified by the fact that the iPhone 4s is selling faster than another phone.

      • Amd

        wow

  • AsianLeader

    Is he really serious about Siri ?

    • j_breez

      Oh yea he’s dead serious about Siri, he must think Siri is as useless as Voice Control was. I see Andy unveiling a version of google voice actions similar to Siri at next year’s I/O.

      • John Moraitis

        Voice Control is not useless, it just appeals to a different type of people.

  • Sean

    Wow , just wo…..what a dumbass, I bet this fucker is going to turn around and create a similar feature on android

  • DebTym

    I can’t believe that Andy Rubin acts and talks also like all the Fandroids out there. You see Androids on almost all mobile handsets. With that it loses its direction. Where is Android heading to? LAWSUITS!

    PS.

    BEWARE OF IPHONE 5. You have one more year to think (if you think? or should I say COPY) of innovation/s you can put to your OS and devices!

    • killa

      ur clearly an apple fanboy…whats the difference?

      • DebTym

        difference? is that you don’t see it clearly

  • Armando Lara

    He should be fired

  • ChrisO

    This guy has no sense of innovation in him at all. Who says it’s not practical for a phone to act as an assistant? Back in the day they were saying it’s not practical for a phone to have no physical keyboard. Look at us now.

  • http://gmail Tbv

    I think the better Android phones(Galaxy S2) has the right hardware combination. Howerver, on the software side, Android is still playing catch up.
    I wonder if Rubin has no imagination or he is just playing dumb and will not admit Android is behind Apple on the software front. I bet within 6 months, they will come up with something similar to Siri.

  • anon

    Siri isn’t a success yet, so hold your horses, it could very well be the next Facetime or Ping.

    • Ken

      I agree with you.

  • Diyab

    Oh my.. I wish Steve jobs was here! He would have taught him a little bit sense.. Plus is this guy trying to be A Steve jobs by wearing that black sweater.. This guy is a douchbag lol

  • Diyab

    Oh my.. I wish Steve jobs was still alive! He would have taught him a little bit of something called “sense”.. Plus is this guy trying to be A Steve jobs by wearing that black sweater.. This guy is a douchbag lol

  • goofygreek

    “It’s hard to argue that people don’t want to talk to their phones when the iPhone 4S is Apple’s fastest-selling phone ever” You know, siri is not the only reason apple sells a lot of iphones. I bet there are people who dont even care about siri and will never use it. Theres also going to be people that wanted the 4s because of its gaming potential. The way you said that makes it sound like siri is the only reason apple is selling its phone. At least thats the way it sounded to me.

  • Lee

    This guy is an idiot. I loose more respect for Google and Android almost daily.

  • apparitions

    I use an IP4, but you ignorant fan boys are an embarrassment.

    • killa

      agree

  • Proof Reader

    I have no respect for people who say “loose” when they mean “lose”.

    • Lee

      Simple typographical error. Point remains the same.

      I may or may not fall heavily into the “fanboy” category, but the fact remains that this man embarrassed himself in more ways than one in that interview. I would say “visionless” is a great word to describe him based solely upon this interview.

      • anon

        Ever heard the saying “perfect is the enemy of good enough”?

        Google knows it will be the 6 Billion vs the 1 Billion. 1 Billion can afford Apples extortionate rates(by my 3rd world standards) and that is fine. They want to serve the other 6 billion, they want to be on the $35 tablet that was just released in India. They want to be on the future $10 tablet that sells llike hot cake in Uganda and Kenya and even the EU and the USA.

        What good is Wikipedia if I can’t access it unless I spend $500 on an iDevice? Save this post, come back in 10 years when your world is different and the poor nations compete because of free for use software and race to the bottom priced hardware.

        It is “IBM Compatible x86″ all over again baby.

      • DebTym

        yawn! =o are you bullied by apples at school?

    • jakes

      i lose respect for people who care more about the grammer than the contend, Everyone makes a typo now and again, you idiot

  • Soto

    I love the last sentence. “android is still trying to figure out how to put the smart in smartphone.”
    So this is androids leader? What a damn shame. Google just hires monkeys some times.

  • Bob Lau

    Some of Andy Rubin’s points are valid and I agree with them. Much of what he says is a matter of opinion and preference. It’s not right or wrong. It’s disagreements like these that make Apple unique.

    I hope that every other software engineer go against Apple’s ideology. This way, the i devices can stay unique with no immiatations.

  • Peter

    To be honest: I really don’t see the function of Siri too, beside playing with it around.

    And the argument of the fastest selling phone is irrelevant, because every iPhone was that.

    I think the future of smartphones does not lie in a listening assistant.

  • Jt

    Cheap article indeed. Thought i was goin to read something informative and serius. Its all colored in android hate. Cmon im an apple person aswell. But i dont HATE the competition

    • Glenn

      We have both OS’s running in our family household so I know about the merits and weaknesses of both. That said, I found the article extremely biased and demonstrates poor journalism.

  • LeavingDroid

    Android is in trouble if this is the attitude of the leadership. And now that Apple is offereing a more affordable device, plus has launched the iCloud, what remains to be seen is how long Android will be able to hold on. It’s like the old tech battles between Beta and VHS; High-def v BluRay. Only one will survive, and I (and millions of others) are placing our bets on Apple.