Yesterday, during the Google I/O keynote, Google unveiled some interesting new tools for us as web developers. The first and probably the biggest being that the VP8 video codec has been made completely open source and that Google, along with Mozilla and Opera have launched the the WebM Project, whose purpose is a high quality, open-source video format. The second and the one I think will get used the most, is Google’s new Font Directory, which makes it insanely easy to use fonts that aren’t “web safe” in your website design. Nettuts+ put up a great video showing how simple using the Font Directory is. What I want to talk about is how seems to actually want to make the web a better place by making it faster and giving developers tools to make their work easier and their projects better.
I’m a pretty cynical person when it comes to large companies and while I do believe that Google’s main objective is to make money, they at least seem to go about it in a way that’s helpful to the community. I’ve heard stories of iPhone app developers wanting to build apps for Android and then Google contacting them and offering them a free Nexus One to test on. To me, that sounds like a company that wants to make money and wants to people that make things for them to be happy. Is that a knock on Apple? Maybe a little bit. Apple makes amazing computers and I would love to own a Macbook Pro, but I would also love to own a Mercedes-Benz. That’s how I view Apple, if you can afford it, then awesome, if not, there are other cars that will get you there.
Microsoft used to be about control, trying to drive out Netscape and force the web to be the way they wanted it but now, thanks to the US government mainly, they’re a bit more open and willing to work with others. Apple seems to be going down the same path, trying to dictate what they think the future of the web is. After the announcement of the VP8 codec, even Microsoft announced that Internet Explorer 9 would support it, the only hold out is Apple and Safari. Why? Some people think it’s because of the amount of money and development Apple’s put into the h.264 codec. I don’t think Apple will win this battle, if they’re the only browser that doesn’t support VP8, I can’t see people using h.264 just to keep Apple happy. Webmonkey has more info on it.
I’m not naive, I know Google’s main goal is to make as much money as possible, but if they’re going to put out open source tools for us to use and, with technology like Chrome, speed up the web, then I’m right there with them. I know not everyone has a great opinion of Google, I have a friend who says that simply because Google’s motto is “Do no evil” means their up to something and who knows, maybe they are. But if they make my job easier and make the web a better experience, then as long as they give me a cool robot body when they take over, I’m with Google.