This post was published 5 years, 8 months ago. Due to the rapidly evolving world of technology, some material it contains may no longer be applicable.
Google I/O kicks off tomorrow and we are very excited. We expect this year to be bigger and better than ever and we’re sure you are all very excited too! Breakfast starts at 7AM PDT tomorrow (3PM London/BST) but the real action begins with the first keynote at 9AM PDT (5PM BST). The event then runs through until 5PM PDT on Thursday 26th (1AM Friday 27th BST). Check out the official I/O agenda (in PDT) below:
A more detailed schedule of each event can be found at: https://www.google.com/events/io/schedule
What We Expect To See
So now for the really exciting stuff. Just what sort of things will be going on at I/O you ask? Here are some of the topics we feel are most likely to come up for you to keep an eye on. Warning: it’s quite a lot of very exciting stuff, prepare for nerdgasms!
Android wear has been a big topic lately and you can be sure it’s going to be a big part of I/O this year. We fully expect to see the full launch details of Android wearables from LG and Motorola and most likely Samsung although it is possible there could be devices from other manufactures such as HTC and Asus who have managed to keep quiet thus far but we do know are on board the Android Wear program.
Health tracking apps have been all the rage lately with companies such as Samsung, Apple, LG and HTC all getting on board (as have Motorola in the past). Now it’s Google’s turn. The Google Fit project could be a key part of the Android Wear announcements at I/O this year but will likely effect the handset side too. We expect to see a bunch of new APIs included in a Google Play Services update to allow developers to easily tap into activity sensors and other new health data.
Unveiling Of Android 5.0
It has been confirmed today by Android and Chrome leader Sundar Pichai that the next version of Android (the “L” release) will indeed be demoed tomorrow for certain but will not launch until later in the autumn. The launch will likely take place alongside the rumoured HTC Nexus 8.9″ tablet (Volantis) or an Android Silver device as all past major updates (and even many more minor ones) have been accompanied by new hardware.
“I want the world to understand what we are doing sooner” – Sundar Pichai
This is a different move than we’ve seen at I/O that past few years. Not since Honeycomb have Google showed us a new Android version months prior to release.
We still don’t know the name of “the ‘L’ release” yet but I suspect we will find that out soon enough! Lollipop and Lemonhead are two of the most popular guesses at the moment with the former outweighing the latter in popularity.
We expect this version to contain some pretty major changes such as being able to use the “Ok Google” hotword everywhere, a new homescreen, changes to the UI based around what we have seen from Quantum Paper and Project Hera and also some smaller changes such as new icons.
No word yet as to whether we will see a new Android statue (as is tradition for new Android updates) on the lawn of the Google-plex during I/O or at the actual launch later in the year. They usually use this as a teaser just before an event so I predict that it will be in the autumn. Of course there is still time for one to be delivered before I/O kicks off!
Google TV never really took off but we expect to see its much-improved replacement which we are sure will also include Chromecast like features as well as a stronger gaming focus than before. It is rumoured to have a whole new UI (similar to the leak below) and to be based on the latest version of Android. Hopefully this time around they will truly crack the smart TV experience with this Chomecast & Google TV love-child.
To aid their efforts to conquer the living room, Google is also rumoured to be launching an Android TV set-top box codenamed “Molly.” The device is believed to be the company’s answer to Amazon’s new Fire TV which itself runs a fork of Android. A device dubbed “GFHD200” (which could well be “Molly” or another form of set-top box) passed by the FCC recently with the following description “TV box, 10/100 Ethernet, MoCa 1.1/2.0, WiFi AP, HDMI 1.4 w/ HDCP.”
Make of that what you will but we suspect we may see at least one TV box from Google over the period of the event.
Hot on the heels of their UK release it is almost inevitable we will see a load more news on Google Glass. To kick things off early Google today launched a bunch of new Glassware (apps for Glass) such as an app called musiXmatch which identifies music and displays live lyrics right before your eye which looks just awesome!
We imagine we’ll probably see more over the next couple of days and hopefully we might also hear some information regarding the release of the consumer version and its pricing as such a model was originally pinned for a late 2014 / early 2015 launch! I’m hoping the price will be a very small fraction of the current £1000!
Auto Link (Android For Your Car)
The next area for the smart mobile operating systems to do battle is in your car! Running your GPS, linking with your phone and controlling your music amongst many other forms of on-the-go wonders. The key here is safe touchless (and ideally glanceless) control and interactions (likely through voice input and output). Although there is also the potential for passenger entertainment if angle-dependent split-content displays are used like you see in vehicles such as Range Rovers.
Google Auto Link partners include Audi, Honda, GM, Hyundai, Mercedes, and more. We expect many of them to be showing their faces at the event, hopefully with some awesome Android car tech.
Google ATAP: Project Tango & Ara
Google’s Advanced Technology And Projects division sum themselves up (in their own words) with the tagline: “We like epic shit.” We’d say that is a pretty apt summary! They also describe their work with the following description:
The future is what we choose to make.
We make what we believe in.
Welcome to Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group.
A small band of pirates. Believers. Makers.
Google acquired ATAP with the Motorola purchase and are keeping them after the Lenovo sale. ATAP is home to some of the most exciting futuristic technologies and projects. Two of such projects are Project Ara, their design for modular devices based on PhoneBlocks, and Project Tango, their devices which can create 3D maps of their environment.
Tango phones and tablets are sensor-filled depth-mapping devices which use an array of cameras and other sensors to map their surroundings in 3D. This gives them the ability to understand the surrounding space.
We were first shown a phone but more recently Google has shown Tango off in a tablet form powered by NVIDIA’s new Tegra K1 processor. Google has been spotted making a large batch of these recently so these could well be given out for free to I/O attendees.
This may look almost consumer-ready but don’t let the polish fool you, this is still very much a dev kit for developers and is not a product for end users. The video below shows the Tango tablet in more detail:
Ara is Google’s vision for a new smartphone form-factor where each element of the phone from the screen to the memory to the radios and everything else are all in separate modules which are user replaceable and held into a frame known as an “Endo” with strong electro magnets. Like Tango, Ara is a project aimed at developers at this stage and not consumers – so don’t get too excited about getting your hands on such a device yet!
We hope to see an update on this project during I/O but we have less evidence to suggest it will feature as we do with Tango. Maybe they will give us more indication on the time-scale for a consumer-ready Ara device.
Definitely watch out for both ATAP projects over the next couple of days!
Goodies For Developers
I/O is first and foremost for developers so we suspect there will be a lot of explanation on new API’s, tips on getting apps ready for Android 5.0 and possibly the release of the new SDK or other toolkits. Last year at I/O 2013 they launched a preview of Android Studio which has seen some big improvements over the pas 12 months. There could well be a big update to that, possibly with better tools for producing apps targeting Android TV, Auto Link and Android Wear and meeting the new design standards.
Other Exciting Stuff
No doubt Google will have other surprises up their sleeves for us as well. Self-driving cars, internet-providing satellites and balloons, robots, home automation technology (likely linked to Nest), and Google Fibre are all great products they are working right now and we suspect to at least some of them make an appearance.
Even if you are not one of the lucky ones jetting off to I/O this year (we aren’t either!) you can still keep track of all the action by live-stream, Google Now and the official I/O 2014 app where you can follow the sessions and even make your own agenda with reminders for the topics you are most interested in. Grab it from Google Play using the widget at the bottom of the article.
Stay tuned for I/O coverage from Little Green Dude over the next few days and most importantly: enjoy the show!