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Ex-Android Chief Andy Rubin Discusses the Weird, Wild Future of Mobile (Video)

What comes after the smartphone?

Asa Mathat

Andy Rubin can see the future. Or at least he has a habit of willing it into being.

Rubin, now the founder and proprietor of hardware incubator Playground Global, will share some insight into his version of the future as he takes the stage with Re/code Editor-at-Large Walt Mossberg at the Code/Mobile conference at The Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, Calif. The Verge is live-blogging the session here.

First, a bit on Rubin’s history. After creating one of the first true smartphones, the T-Mobile Sidekick, he went on to form Android. Google bought it and, with Rubin at the helm, took the open source software to a place where it powers four out of every five smartphones on the planet. Now, Rubin is tackling what comes after smartphones.

As founder of Playground Global, a hardware incubator launched last year, he is nurturing startups building the next generation of robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, and whatever the still-in-sorta-stealth fund has cooking.

Rubin has a wide and deep perspective on the mobile industry. He worked at pioneering mobile startups Danger and General Magic, as well as serving stints at Microsoft and Apple. From 2005 to 2013, as a Google SVP, he led Android as it expanded with an array of handset partnerships and began to move onto new platforms, like wearables and cars. He then ran Google’s nascent robotics division, overseeing its massive buying spree, but left the search giant rather suddenly a year ago.

At Playground Global, Rubin gets to toy around with the future. His preferred term for the fund is a “studio.” And he’s backing companies — such as Nervana Systems, a deep learning startup, and castAR, which works in augmented reality — with the kind of newfangled tech for which Silicon Valley giants are desperate.

Hopefully, he will share more of the bet he’s placing. Rubin’s departure from Google was recent and, to many, unexpected. Anticipate that coming up as well.

This article originally appeared on

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