What To Expect This Week At Google I/O
Google is “gearing up” for its annual developer conference this week, Google I/O. On Wednesday, there will be a two-hour keynote to be delivered or emceed by Android and Chrome SVP Sundar Pichai. We’ll be there.
Based on an array of rumors, we expect to see and hear a number of hardware and software announcements. Here’s a non-exhaustive roundup of what some of those might include.
Android Wear Smartwatches
Android Wear was previously announced, but we expect to see a number of watches finally on display. Devices from Motorola and LG should be among those being shown off at the event, and perhaps we’ll learn about pricing. There are a number of Android Wear-related developer sessions at I/O.
While Samsung is building its Galaxy Gear 2.0 devices mostly on its proprietary OS Tizen, it will also develop some Android Wear watches. Apple is reportedly coming out with its iWatch in October.
Handsets & Tablets
We may get a look at the Nexus 6, although the balance of opinion is that it won’t appear until later this year. There’s also the possibility of a 9-inch Nexus tablet (made by HTC), although the source of that report argues for a fall release date.
It’s not clear whether the Nexus 7 will continue to live side-by-side with this larger device or whether the 9-inch tablet is a replacement for the Nexus 7. However it could be a replacement for the disappointing Nexus 10.
Project Tango tablets should make an appearance. They were previously announced and, in most respects, resemble Nexus 7 devices. However, they’re intended for developers (right now) and cost more than $1,000. They enable users to create 3D maps of indoor spaces. There are a range of potential applications of the technology, including gaming and indoor navigation.
There’s also the slight possibility of a Chrome OS tablet debut.
Android TV (And Maybe Nexus TV)
Google TV, introduced several years ago, was a failure. Google got another bite at the apple with Chromecast, which was cheap and easy to install and has been successful accordingly.
Now, Google is returning to a bigger idea similar to the original Google TV. Reportedly “Android TV” will be an OS/platform, not hardware, that will focus on the delivery of media, content and games. It will compete with Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, Roku and presumably cable companies.
Android TV will apparently offer a simpler UI and better overall user experience — Google TV was something of a mess. The Verge says that Android TV is “remarkably similar to Amazon’s just-released, Android-based Fire TV.”
There’s also a rumor that a parallel effort, Nexus TV, will be introduced. The speculation is that Nexus TV is a set-top box for gaming and entertainment. If we do see something like that it will be quite confusing side-by-side with Android TV. It may be that Android TV and Nexus TV are simply alternative names for the same product.
Google’s Nest In The Connected Home
Early this year, Google bought Nest for more than $1 billion. Nest currently makes a sexy thermostat and smoke detector. But the notion is that Nest will be a friendly brand — the Google brand in this context implies Big Brother — to deliver all sorts of “connected home” offerings. Nest also just acquired DropCam (for a reported $555 million). DropCam allows individuals to monitor homes (or other places and spaces) remotely via the cloud.
In addition we may get a larger peek into Google’s vision for the connected home at I/O.
Google In The Car
Google recently revealed that the company built its own self-driving car prototypes. We’ll probably see one of those at I/O, perhaps offering rides to developers.
In addition we should see some discussion of Google’s “connected car” Android initiative, the “Open Automotive Alliance.” This effort attempts to make the car an app distribution platform for Android developers in much the same way Apple’s Car Play does for iOS apps.
A couple of weeks ago, Forbes reported on the impending launch of “Google Fit,” which would basically duplicate the capabilities of the earlier announced Apple HealthKit — aggregating data from third-party apps and health trackers into a single point of entry or dashboard.
Beyond these potential announcements there may well be a surprise or two. We will certainly hear about new Android features as well as get an update on the overall state of Android adoption and usage.
As I mentioned, we’ll be live blogging the keynote and bring you additional coverage throughout the two days of I/O.