15 Telling Scenes From Google's I/O Conference

Google Cranks Up The Buzz Machine

Google held its third I/O developer conference in San Francisco from May 19-20, bringing together coders from all over the world to bask in the glow of its latest technological advancements. Following are 15 scenes from I/O that encapsulate the uniquely Google esprit de corps that pervaded the event.

Google's Liquid Galaxy

"Eight quad core computers, one Google Earth experience" was the message that greeted visitors to Google's Liquid Galaxy project. This demo was part of last year's I/O, and this year's TED conference, and judging from the throngs of curious attendees who packed into the Liquid Galaxy booth, it hasn't lost any of its novelty.

Liquid Galaxy is the brainchild of Jason Holt, a Google software engineer, and is part of Google's "20 Percent Time" program, which encourages developers to devote a fifth of their efforts to projects outside their job description.

Worth Standing In Line For

Google and Sprint gave away a free HTC Evo 4G uberphone to I/O attendees, hundreds of whom are seen queuing up here to get their hands on this impressive piece of technological lavishness. The HTC Evo 4G will be available June 4 exclusively through Sprint, which is selling it for $199 with a two year contract.

Anxiously Waiting To Be Wowed

I/O attendees seated near the keynote stage capture images and video as they wait for Vic Gundotra, vice president of engineering at Google, to take the stage. Gundotra walked the audience through new features of Google's forthcoming Android 2.2 release and made it very clear that Google has Adobe's back in the battle over Flash on mobile devices and the Web.

History Of Android Devices

Google took I/O attendees on a stroll down memory lane with this display case featuring Android devices from the past and present. Like an army of malevolently programmed robots, these Androids sat in their cases with stone-faced, inscrutable expressions, waiting for the order to attack -- presumably when Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 devices arrive on the market later this year.

Verizon's HTC Droid Eris

Sales of Android devices outpaced iPhone sales in the first quarter, and devices like Verizon's HTC Droid Eris are a big reason why. Although a Verizon over-the-air- update to Android 2.1 recently caused problems for some Droid Eris users, the device has met with solid reviews since its launch last fall.

Introducing Google Snacks

No, Google doesn't actually have a new product by this name. But at I/O, this snack bin filled with sweet and savory treats gave attendees a taste of Google's legendary culinary delights. The event also featured two cafes -- one Creole food, the other Thai -- which dished up all manner of deliciousness, including Jambalaya and Thai curries. Sure beats the standard box lunch and bag of chips.

Go Forth And Fill Those Pipes With Video

Google had a dedicated booth for attendees to upload their I/O videos directly to YouTube. This is of course possible on a wide range of mobile phones, but cell service from certain carriers left much to be desired due to the high concentration of devices at the event.

During Google's demo of Google TV, attendees were asked several times to turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to avoid disrupting connectivity to the demo, proving once again that over-exuberance and technology can be a difficult combination.

Hotbed Of Innovation

The Developer Sandbox at I/O was a bustling area dedicated to showing off the work of developers who've built apps on Google technologies, including Wave, App Engine, Android and Chrome.

Cure For Treadmill Boredom

If you're the type of person who gets insanely bored while exercising on treadmill devices, The NordicTrack with iFit Live demo at I/O could be the answer to your personal hell. Powered by Google Maps, the demo lets exercisers immerse themselves in imagery from famous marathon routes and a host of global landmarks. Sure beats reading that ratty old issue of Field and Stream at your local gym.

Google Finally Launches Wave To Public

At I/O, Google made its Google Wave offering available to the public via the Web and as part of the Google Apps suite. It's been a long time coming for Google Wave, which made its debut at last year's I/O conference, and Google acknowledged that it should have been more clear about what exactly Wave is designed to achieve.

The message so far has been that Wave combines communication and collaboration into a single product, and at I/O, Google officials said integration of Wave with Gmail is the next step.

Relics of the Dot-Com Era

Ah, yes, beanbag chairs. Once part of the office decor of every dot-com startup, these relics of a bygone era are hard to find at tech companies these days. Perhaps the multicolored beanbag represents a carefree, happy-go-lucky view that's contrary to the gravitas of running a business.

In any event, beanbag chairs are still around at Google, and they were strewn across the show floor in a manner suggested casual familiarity. It appears that when a company's share price is hovering near $500 per share, the bean counters are OK with their employees sitting on whatever makes them comfortable.

Parrot's AR.Drone Makes Another Appearance

Parrot USA, best known for making Bluetooth hands-free products, was on hand at I/O showing off its Parrot AR.Drone, a "quadricopter" (helicopter with four propellers) that's controllable through Wi-Fi from an iPhone or iPod Touch.

The AR.Drone is designed for "augmented reality" gaming, and stole the show at this year's CES. But it's also one of the coolest novelty gadget items to come around in a while, which makes it the perfect addition to a conference full of hard core coders.

Google Says It's Making Enterprise Strides

Google is established in the consumer market and now wants to grab some enterprise market share from Microsoft and others in this space. At I/O, Google highlighted the work its partners are doing to augment Google Apps, and also unveiled a new cloud computing partnership with VMware. It may take Google a while to gain traction in this space, but the company is clearly ready to take some chances to make that happen.

Google Web Toolkit Broadens Its Reach

Under the Google-VMware cloud computing partnership, the Google Web Toolkit has been integrated with VMware's SpringSourceTool Suite, as well as a new rapid application development tool called Spring Roo. Google also devoted an I/O session to highlighting the role of HTML5 in the Google Web Toolkit.

Google Marks The Spot With Geo-Location

Google is weaving geo-location into everything it's doing in mobile, and the ubiquitous "You Are Here" icon marked the spot of the Moscone West convention center in downtown San Francisco, site of this year's I/O event.