Google I/O and the Death of the Web

Google recently wrapped up their annual developer conference, Google I/O, and I was struck by how very little was said about the Web during the keynote. While the death of the web may be a bit of click bait title, the 2015 Google I/O conference highlights it is an app world now and a connected world is on the way. We can start to envision a future where we use a Web Browser as much as we use a VHS player.

Google I/O Logo

To provide some background, Google I/O is a developer conference where Google reaches out to get developers excited about their platform. Microsoft has their Build conference and Apple has WWDC and they all do the same thing; encourage developers to create great things on their respective platforms and show their vision of the future and why developers should invest their time in adopting this vision.

The Google we know today, with its $350 Billion (USD) market capitalization and $48 billion (USD) in cash reserves, is a result of building great tools for the Web such as search and Gmail. Google also has many great web technologies that developers use every day.
AngularJS is an exceedingly popular JavaScript framework. Google App Engine is a popular cloud Platform As A Service (PAAS) service offering. Google Analytics is embedded on nearly every web page on the Internet. Google Maps are displayed on millions of web pages across the Internet. Google Ad Sense is responsible for the vast majority of Google's $48 billion cash hoard. Even tools like Google Chart are used every day by millions.

So how many of these apps or services were mentioned during Google's I/O keynote. Nary a one, despite the wide adoption and support these tools/apps have. The biggest web technology Google focused on during their keynote was Polymer, a web toolkit based on their Material design standard that was released at the conference. Their was also the release of Google Photos, but that is more about capturing the images you take on your phone than the next great Web thing. Google used its developer conference to discuss very little of its web technologies.

What does this all mean? Google's mantra as of late has been the next billion users, and those users aren't coming from the web. They are coming for mobile devices, TV watchers and even cars. Google is racing towards a world where all devices are connected, and they want to be there first. Self driving cars are impressive technology, but they are also rolling data collectors that tell Google more about you and the world around you than your phone currently does. Android users in emerging economies will never own a PC and will experience the Internet through devices and apps instead of the web. Chromecast devices tell Google what media you like to consume. All of this data feeds to Google and provides data and context, which tells Google more about us and the world, all in order to serve up ads to sell you tickets to go see Ant Man.

Google and Apple are very well entrenched in the mobile world. However, they come from very different places. Google wants context and information about you, and they store it in their massively scalable cloud. For you to give this to them, they provide much of these services for free. Apple wants to create amazing devices and experiences for users, charge you a premium for it and have you keep coming back. Nothing illustrates the difference in thought between these two companies than their photo strategy. Google wants everything you can give it, and you can have it for free. Apple gives you a paltry 5 GB for photo storage and then wants you to pay.

However, the next massive area for tech growth is a world where everything is connected and Google is winning. Apple is not ready to play in that world, and I haven't seen anything to indicate they are planning to. They do not have their own scalable cloud infrastructure in place, though they are working on it, but it is for their services, not for developers to utilize in creating applications. Their development tools are focused on selling hardware devices, not cloud. They are capturing context with iBeacons and iPhones, but not to the scale of Google, where it permeates Android.

Google is exceptionally well prepared to be ready for the connected world, it is in their DNA to do massive scale and be a little bit creepy in what they capture about users. They are also creating and or buying companies that feed data to this connected world. Nest thermostats, self driving cars, Android all feed data and context to Google.

Who is going to compete with Goolge? One option is Microsoft. They have lost mobile, but they are positioned to execute in a connected world, with their Azure service for scale, and their Internet of Things strategy. However, unlike Google, they aren't building the connected devices like Android, Android Wear, automobiles that consumers want and will feed data and context. Microsoft is also more of an Enterprise company these days than a consumer company, though they are working to move the bar.

Or maybe it is Amazon that will be there to fight Google for market share. They have the leading cloud service so they can do scale. Their shopping service provides context. However, their disastrous Fire launch indicates mobile will not be an option for providing data and context. Their focus on growth in shopping does not provide the cash that Apple, Google and Microsoft have to buy share.

The web browser is now hitting the Grandparent stage of life, having begat a mobile world and we are seeing the start of a connected world. It has been a great ride for the web. Google and Apple own the mobile world. The question is who else is going to be battling with Google for the connected world?

By John Ptacek


NEWDUG 2015 CodeCamp - Getting Ready for VS 2015 By Loving the Command Prompt

I will be presenting at the 2015 NEWDUG CodeCamp this year. Pretty excited! The CodeCamp is for developers in NorthEast Wisconsin (or those looking for a roadtrip) and features speakers from all over the Midwest. The CodeCamp is March 28th and will be at the Fox Valley Technical College. You can find more information, as well as register at

My presentation is entitled, Getting Ready for VS 2015 By Loving the Command Prompt. We are going to look at some of the Open Source tools that will be a big part of Visual Studio 2015. These include things platforms such as Bower, Yeoman, NPM, etc. We may even do some kind of dark magic where we run a Microsoft .NET MVC app natively on a OS X, because that is now a thing.

If you are in the area, come check out the talk and say hi!

Bower logo

Chocolately logo

npm logo

Yeoman logo

By John Ptacek


National Pi Day 2015

On March 14th, geeks across North America celebrate Pi Day. That is when the US version of the date (3/14) is the same as the world’s most famous number π (pi), 3.14. This year is a very significant Pi Day, since the day of March 14, 2015 gets us to 4 significant digits of Pi 3.1415!

The last several years we celebrated by calculating π , once with a Monte Carlo Simulator and AngularJS and another time comparing C# and C++ performance. We aren not going to break with tradition this year, so onward to more about π!

Instead of calculating π again, which is fun because math (yeah, MATH!), we thought we would take a different spin and look at a valuable tool that a lot of people know use without even knowing it, and that is Wolfram Alpha. The Bing and DuckDuckGo search engines utilize Alpha for some searches as well as Apple’s Siri.

Alpha Home Screen

Wolfram Alpha has its genesis in a symbolic math program called Mathematica. A symbolic math program can be thought of as a math calculator, but calling it a calculator is like calling that $500 supercomputer in your pocket a phone. Mathematica enables mathematicians, scientists, financial folks and all kinds of people to solve math problems, from the easy to the difficult. So instead of getting a numerical value for the integral of Sin from 0 to π, it solves the solutions in closed form and gives you the indefinite integral. A less fancy way of saying this, it does your calculus homework for you. So

Integral Input


Integral Output

This computation engine, became the basis for Wolfram Alpha, so Wolfram Alpha can do great things with math, for example, here is the integral of Sin. Integral Answer

So Alpha is great at math, but what differentiates it from its Mathematica toots is the incorporation of curated knowledge base and the alpha parsing engine. What does this mean? Alpha takes historical data, like stock price information, Gross Domestic product, historical weather data and many other data sets. It then creates knowledge sets which are made queryable via human type questions.

You can then do natural language queries across a wide set of data. For example, you can find that Albert Einstein was 65 in the beginning of 1945 by typing “how old was albert Einstein in 1945”. You can find the US GDP was 8.788 trillion in 1997 or that the Chicago White Sox won the 2005 World Series.

At this point, most of you realize you can get this by a well type Google query. Two things to realize, first the Wolfram Alpha application shows lots of data about your query, not just the result. It exposes data from its data set. For example, the World Series query shows the dates the World Series occurred, locations (Houston and Chicago), participants (Astros and White Sox), etc. Point 2 though, and this is the most valuable one, these queries can be aggregated. The US GDP data can be take and plotted by asking Alpha to “plot the US GDP”.


It will show folks the median home value in Madison Wi or F4 tornadoes in Indiana or compare Microsoft, Apple and Google stocks or even tell you a joke (FYI, I didn't say a FUNNY joke).

Wolfram Alpha is a powerful tool for organizations. It can find historical data and make the data available to teams doing research. It can help make sense of that data too. If you haven’t looked at it, I can encourage people to take some times at the Alpha examples, they are a great demonstration of what can be done.

We started out today talking about Pi Day, so let us close the loop. Of course Alpha has a lot to say about Pi! You can find out more here. I was able to calculate Pi to 2000 significant digits by typing N[Pi,2000] and get an answer faster than ANY program I could write.


This blog post originally appeared at Skyline Technologies

By John Ptacek


John Ptacek I'm John Ptacek, a software developer for Skyline Technologies. This blog is my contains my content and opinions, which are not those of my employer.

Currently, I am reading The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel Brown

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