What Is Google Up To In Australia Right Now?

Some of the technology Google develops in Australia is very successful (think Maps). Some of it ultimately falls by the wayside (think Wave). But what are the boffins in Google's Pyrmont office working on right now?

In a speech at the Digital Sydney launch last night, local head of engineering Alan Noble gave a quick and neat summary of what Google's local technical team is currently working on:

Google Maps is at its heart Australian technology. We started off Google Maps back in 2004 and geospatial products which includes not just Google Maps but Google Earth and Google Mobile Maps, that's now a very big part of Google and continues to be a very big part of what we do here in Sydney.

As we've grown we've basically moved into new areas. Off our success in geo we've started to work on a lot of Google's infrastructure. Now the infrastructure's not something you can see or touch as a user of Google's products and services, but it's the vital systems running under the hood that are powering the systems, that are making them scale and run reliably 24/7 all around the world. We have large infrastructure teams in Sydney.

A bit more recently, we've actually diversified into Google Apps and we have certain teams working on various parts of Google Apps. In particular, we've been working on Docs for Android which means you can now access your docs anywhere.

There's a team working on Google Chrome. A lot of that work is actually open source, Not only do we use a lot of open source technology, but everything we do in Chrome to make the web browsers better is going back into an open source project called Webkit, and that's the same package that's used in [other]browsers.

Along with that, we have a smattering of as-yet-unannounced projects, some of them I'm very excited about. We call these special projects. Unfortunately I can't talk about these until they're public but suffice to say there's a lot of really interesting things happening in Pyrmont at Google Australia.

Experience has taught us that just because those unannounced technologies are developed in Australia, we won't necessarily see them here first. But I'd still like to know what they are (and educated guesses are welcome in the comments).


    Uhh, Firefox doesn't use WebKit. It uses Gecko, the Mozilla developed engine.

      Err, no it doesn't.

      "Google Chrome is a web browser developed by Google that uses the WebKit layout engine."


        Doh. Misreading the comment. Sorry!

    Wow, dropping the ball on that Firefox reference, Mr Noble.

    Also, Google Earth/Maps started out as an Aussie Google project? I never knew that! We should be bragging about that more often, very cool!

      While it's an accurate record of what was said, I'm going to assume Alan made a mistake under pressure (there were a lot of technical glitches due to Opera House incompetenence), so I've edited that bit, as it's a distraction from the main point of what was actually being said.

      Google Earth didn't come from Australia and is mostly not a Google product, it was an acquisition from California (Keyhole). Maps was at least Australian but it too was another acquisition. It was bought before there was a Google engineering presence in Australia. As an Australian working for Google at the time I was quite happy about the acquisition but continued to hold out for a Melbourne engineering office.

    (looks weird on the front page, this article does)


    Bring on Google Talk and Google Books. Sick of being in the backwater


    Just noticed the full article made it to the RSS feed, instead of the usual taster-snippet. Any reason why?

      Short answer: because I mis-typed the paragraph break tag!

    Im fairly sure maps was developed from start to finish in Sydney, not just "stared" or dreamed up there. Australia is a major player in Google circles, and have been for a while, makes me proud, it does!

    As a Blogger user always teetering on the edge of switching over to Wordpress, I'm always keen to hear what the Aussie contingent are up to.
    Quite a few 'Wave' staff moved over to Blogger last year I believe and there are big new updates planned.

    I'd be really interested to see a version of Google Voice come to Australia. Perhaps they have been working on organising this with the key stakeholders holding it back?

    Where's Prymont btw? ;-)

      Pyrmont is just 5 mins walk North West from Darling Harbour.

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