Google has a lot to do. Since its last developer conference, wearables have taken off, web-driven home automation became a real thing, in-car apps are taking shape, tablets have changed and a full-on price war for cloud services has begun. This year Google IO, the annual conference for developers will be starting from this Wednesday in San Francisco.
The conference, often days after Apple’s own WWDC event, is Google’s opportunity to present and discuss applications for the company’s web browser and open Internet technologies as well as presenting new products in all things Google. As Google grows in influence with developers, thanks to Chrome and Android, their I/O conference has also grown in interest. In 2011 tickets were gone quickly and this year sales have broken all records, as the event sold out in 20 minutes.
The company has certainly made some moves in these areas but it’s saved plenty of big announcements for Google I/O, which kicks off at 9 a.m. Pacific on Wednesday with the conference keynote in San Francisco. If it follows a similar script of previous years, we’ll hear from most of the consumer facing services of Google, from Android phones to Maps, but in the past year Google has expanded its products considerably. It acquired Nest Labs, the maker of the popular connected thermostat and it announced initiatives to bring Android apps to cars and wearables and that’s just for starters.
Google is dabbling into advanced mobile technology with its Ara and Tango projects. It also made its famous smart glasses, Google Glass available to all, even though the product is still technically in ‘beta’. What Google’s been up to and not up to gives us a pretty good sense of what it’s planning to reveal at its big show. Here’s what’s probably in store for Google I/O 2014:
To begin with, Google will finally give us a closer look at the Android Wear:-
The company’s vision for a smartwatch, the device brings the refinement of Google’s card-based design language and the power of Google Now in what looks and sounds like a fantastic product. After launching the original Gear, Google quickly realized that its Android smartphone OS was not the best option for a much smaller, wearable device. While Samsung decided to then opt for Tizen-based Gear iterations, Google announced Android Wear. Stirred by rumours of the upcoming iWatch, Google plans to do what it’s best at i.e. team up with several OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and pump out as many smartwatches as possible. Given that the Developer Preview for Android Wear was made available in March, we can expect a slew of Android Wear devices in the new future. LG, Motorola, Asus, Samsung, HTC, Intel, Qualcomm, Fossil and MediaTek have all signed up as hardware and manufacturing partners for Android Wear and we are likely to see an array of Android-powered smartwatches later this year. Of these, LG and Motorola are expected to launch the G Watch and Moto 360 at the Google I/O respectively.
Hints about a new iteration of Android have been floating around for a while. Android 4.0 came out three years ago so it’s certainly not too soon to see a whole new version. According to the rumors, Android apps will start to act a lot more like Google apps online making the transition between the two easier for users. The real question of course is how it will compare to Apple’s iOS 8 and all the promises made at the Apple WWDC conference.
It’s rumored Google will re-launch its ill-conceived Google TV platform as Android TV. This makes sense from a branding perspective, although it’s still a little baffling why Google is still focusing on this particular smart TV platform after its well-received Chromecast device. Android TV will theoretically offer developers an easy way to create apps for smart televisions. Presumably those apps will be controlled by an Android smartphone or tablet, although there will need to be a way for the apps to work on their own too, which is likely the reason Google thinks it still needs something separate from Chromecast.
Home Automation, Android in the Car:-
Google’s acquisition of Nest Labs is a done deal and the company isn’t wasting any time in pushing forward the connected-home vision that began with a cool-looking thermostat. On the eve of I/O, Nest opened its thermostat to developers and it’s holding sessions on the conference about exactly how to create apps that work with the device.
Google I/O could be the event where the company announces the upcoming launch of the first Nexus Tablet. A few days ago rumor spread that Google would launch several models of its equipment which would be manufactured by different companies. If so, Google would’ve adopted a totally different strategy for the Nexus tablet, which certainly has its point of relevance for the future of the Android tablet environment.
Glass could be the exception, since Google had previously promised the consumer version of the product would be available in 2014. We’ll probably hear more about how Glass fits into Google’s vision of wearable technology, especially opposite the launch of Android Wear. The official announcement of the retail version remains a longshot.
Google’s Nest thermostat will be able to work with fitness trackers, garage doors, cars and dishwashers. It might be a little early for Google to announce something as all-encompassing as Android equivalent of Apple’s HomeKit but you can bet it’s in the works.
Android in the Car:-
While Google announced the program back in January, it hasn’t followed up. With Apple CarPlay arriving soon, now would be an excellent time to show developers how to port their apps to in-vehicle experiences.
Most Google web services are best in class but its social network is still a punch line. Google+ is certainly more than a place to connect and share things and it is how the company refers to Google services enhanced with person context. However, most people see it as a lamer, nerdier Facebook and it’s telling that there’s no mention of Google+ in the I/O schedule.
Google+ may be in for a rebranding. The social stream is active with a relatively small group of tech-savvy users, and while it’s probably not going anywhere, the “+” branding may start to appear less and less on Google’s other services. That’s actually starting to happen already. Most likely, Google simply won’t talk much about its struggling social network apart from maybe its truly excellent photo features.
There’s a whole lot else Google might make announcements about of course. Satellites and balloons to broadcast the Internet, new touch tablets and laptops and really anything else the company’s developers can imagine. One of the fun things about the event is that it has extended satellite conferences all over, including in D.C. It all starts with the keynote address at noon on Wednesday that will be live-streamed.
Where to Watch It Online:-
The highly anticipated annual developers conference by Google, the Google I/O 2014 the live stream of Google’s keynote event will kick off at 2AM AEST on Thursday 25th June, with the keynote session opening at 9 AM PDT/12NN EDT.
If you have an Android smartphone or tablet you can already download the official Google I/O 2014 app from the Google Play Store. While this mostly includes a timetable of events and alerts reminding users that a session is about to start, those not present at the event can also use it to livestream the event.
For all of you unable to watch a live stream due to poor internet connection/overbearing IT administrators in your office, fear not, as most of the websites will be live blogging all the news from the event including ours.
Below is a list of local times for when the event will take place around the world:
• San Francisco – 9am
• New York – 12pm
• London – 5pm
• Amsterdam – 6pm
• Johannesburg – 7pm
• Bangkok – 12am (Tuesday)
• Hong Kong – 1am (Tuesday)
• Seoul – 2am (Tuesday)
• Sydney – 4am (Tuesday)