There is a likely vision for computing in the next decade that looks like this: One smart device in your pocket acts as the brain for an ever-evolving constellation of screens in your car and living room and on your face and wrist.
The phone—moving ever farther away from its name—rules everything around you.
Today, Google showed how it is building this future. The company is bringing Android, its mobile operating system, to televisions and cars.
"So, this isn't a new platform. That's kind of the point," Android's engineering director, Dave Burke, told an audience of programmers at the Google I/O conference. "We're simply giving TV the same level of attention as phones and tablets have traditionally enjoyed. We want you to be able to leverage your existing skills and investment in Android and extend them to TV."
What this means for an average person is that the people building apps for phones will soon be building apps for all kinds of stuff.
The design frameworks and types of interactions that you have on the device in your pocket are going to proliferate all around you. When you're in your car, Google wants the Android design language to sit in the dashboard. When you look at your watch: Android. When you turn on the TV: Android.
The spread of Android matters because operating systems are not a neutral way of accessing computing power. They structure all the interactions that we have with our phones. They change what applications are possible. They set standards for security and accessibility. They smuggle in a way of thinking about accessing information and communications.