Andy Rubin — Google Mobile chief, aka, Android Man — took a few gentle swipes at Apple, during his time onstage at All Things D's AsiaD event in Hong Kong this week.
"I don't think there should be apps specific for a tablet, necessarily," Rubin told his interviewer, the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg. With the new "Ice Cream Sandwich" flavor of Android, he said, all apps will run as well on tablets as on smartphones.
Apple currently offers more than 140,000 apps for just the iPad, and more than half a million for the iPhone. Sour grapes?
"I recognize that we were a little behind," he said, regarding the Android Market.
Rubin also showed off the Galaxy Nexus, Google's newest branded smartphone and the first to run Ice Cream Sandwich (Unfiltered: Google's 'Ice Cream Sandwich' finally arrives). The phone offers "voice typing," allowing users to dictate emails and text messages — a far cry from Apple's Siri, which can schedule a meeting, buy movie tickets, recommend a restaurant and even respond to users' expressions of love or boredom.
“I don’t believe that your phone should be an assistant,” Rubin said in an interview shortly after his on-stage time, according to All Things D. “Your phone is a tool for communicating. You shouldn’t be communicating with the phone; you should be communicating with somebody on the other side of the phone.”
Indeed, in a world where people looked up when crossing the street, instead of staring at cartoon birds on small screens, communicating with real people was ideal.
“To some degree it is natural for you to talk to your phone,” Rubin conceded, but historically that has meant talking to another person."
More generously, he added that he doesn't at all expect Apple, without Steve Jobs, to miss a beat, and he even had nice things to say about BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion.
"They're very smart. They're Canadian."