Google hiring Android app experts in new effort to take on the iPhone

Google is recruiting software engineers, product managers, user interface boffins and other app-related staff, as it looks to start building more innovative Android apps in-house.

Stuart Dredge
2 min read

Google's Android Market looks set for a new wave of innovative apps made by... Google itself. The company is recruiting app developers -- including software engineers, product managers and user interface specialists -- to fuel an expansion in its in-house app activities.

Google wants to put small development teams together to make a range of apps and games, citing the examples of Angry Birds and Foursquare as inspiration, according to the Wall Street Journal. Some of these new apps will only be released on Android, while others will presumably be also made available on the iPhone and other smart phones.

Google already makes its own apps, of course, from mobile versions of Web services such as Google Earth and YouTube to mobile-only apps such as Google Goggles and Google Sky Map for Android. Hiring a bunch of developers could quickly swell the number, however, especially if they come with their own ideas ready to go, as the WSJ suggests.

The news is being seen as the next stage of Google's attempt to compete with Apple and its vastly successful App Store. Thousands of games and apps have been ported from iOS to Android in the last year, as sales of Google-powered smart phones have rocketed. But it's still a fact that the number of truly excellent, innovative apps that are only available on Android can still be counted in the dozens.

Talk of Google looking to make the next Foursquare in-house is somewhat ironic, since the company once owned Dodgeball, a social-location service co-founded by Dennis Crowley. After Google mothballed the service, Crowley left the company and went on to co-found... Foursquare. Mobile developers may be wary of their cool app ideas meeting a similar fate.

Even so, Google throwing its weight behind apps is good news for Android owners, who want more great apps on the Android Market to make the most of critically acclaimed new Android handsets such as the Nexus S.