31/05/2017 6:14 PM IST | Updated 31/05/2017 6:15 PM IST

From Inventing Android To The Essential Phone: Andy Rubin's Eventful Journey

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At Google's annual developer conference, Google IO, a few days ago, CEO Sundar Pichai announced a key milestone in the journey of the Android operating system. Over two billion active devices across the world run on the Android OS. This is a staggering number. Only a couple of other services, such as Google search or Facebook would even be in the ballpark when it comes to number of users in that range. Andy Rubin, co-founder of Android, is in the news today for the new Essential PH-1 phone, developed by Essential, a company that Rubin has funded.

Rubin wants to change how smartphone is used and make it more user-friendly. He feels that there are too few Android phones that deliver top-notch experience to consumers. Hence, Essential. But practically every new phone-maker that has entered the market has expressed similar sentiments. Essential is a young company, still charting out its future. Rubin's own journey however has been very interesting.

He developed Android in 2003 with Rich Miner, Nick Sears, and Chris White. While developing smart systems for phones, they managed to build a system for the camera first. When Android was on the verge of shutting down, Steve Perlman, a friend of Rubin, offered them $10,000 to stay afloat. Later, in 2005, Android was acquired by Google.

Rubin was the head of mobile and digital content at Google, developing Android from scratch. He has seen it grow from an experiment to the most used operating system in the world. In 2013, Sundar Pichai took his place and Rubin moved to the robotics division.

In a blog post on the Essential website, Rubin said that Essential was founded after a night of discussion with his friend on the current state of smartphones and smartphone technology.

"After another long talk with my friend we decided that I needed to start a new kind of company using 21st-century methods to build products for the way people want to live in the 21st century," the Android co-creator said.


Rubin is not just building phones. The Playground, his startup incubator, is building robots and helping the company in designing products as well. Yesterday, along with the Essential phone, he also announced the development of Essential Home, a smart AI home assistant that can work with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple's Siri.

To run Essential Home, the company has developed a new operating system called Ambient OS. The idea is to activate the AI by touch, wave or voice command, and to control the device through the local network instead of taking the cloud route.

Essential has a long way to go, as does Rubin. The last time he created history was with Android. Though no one can discount Google's role in making Android what it is today. Now, Rubin is dealing with multiple roles and vertices, ranging from phones to AI to robotics.

Here is Andy Rubin's full interview with ReCode.