Geeks, coffee, sweets and cool music, add that to a lineup of interesting speakers talking about cool technology and you have a recipe for an awesome event. Day 1 of the Google South Africa (g|southafrica) Conference finished a couple of hours ago and it was a pretty cool day. I’ve worked with most of the Google technologies before but still found the conference a wealth of knowledge. It’s always refreshing to see a group of dedicated people speak about something they’re passionate about, and the Googlers are quite passionate about their products.
Day 1 of the conference made it quite clear that Google has big plans for Africa. They’re on a mission to bring the Internet to everyone, making it an integral part of every African’s life, and I think they have a good grasp of the potential pitfalls and problems of dealing with this continent; things like the multitude of languages, lack of Internet access and decent localized content.
What are they doing about it? Lots of cool stuff it seems, like Google Voice, a speech to text recognition tied in with Googles’ search engine, now you can just say what you want and it delivers it to your device and, believe me, what they’ve done with voice recognition technology is awesome. Oh, did I mention it’s in Afrikaans and Zulu as well? Then of course there’s the heavy focus on us (the developers of cool apps), trying to get us entrenched in all the cool API’s they have available, building relevant content for local customers. What’s refreshing is that they recognize that they’re not the specialists on localized content, they’re merely the tool providers, WE’RE the specialists.
Some other cool things at the conference (for me anyway) was Google Goggles (still in beta I believe), let’s you scan just about anything and recognizes and returns information on it (except pet’s and accessories, but they promise they’re hard at work getting that sorted 😉 ), pretty awesome technology (it’s not often you get a room full of techies to applaud spontaneously during a demo!). Another cool technology was the entire Map / Location base suite of API’s ; I’m working on a project currently using these technologies so I am biased towards it’s coolness but what they showed was mind altering to say the least, lots of cool technology to play with.
All in all the conference was awesome, lots of useful tips from the Googlers on getting the technology out there (especially in the mobile arena) and using it in an optimal way (like search optimization), together with lots of cool demo’s of cool technologies.
Looking forward to Day 2 tomorrow… more coffee, more sweets, more awesome…
Oh, in case you’re wondering, I used the word “cool” 12 times in this post…