October 26, 2014

Google I/O 2014: What to expect

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Now we’re in June, our attention naturally turns to the event scheduled for the 25-26th of the month, and with Google I/O 2014 only a few weeks away, what has the company got in store for us?

We take a look at some of the more likely headlines that we think the rumours have been solid enough to predict, those that could and would be nice to happen, to those which we probably won’t be seeing Google announce at their Keynote.

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Google I/O is usually reserved for major operating system releases as it’s the perfect chance to showcase the new features and also demonstrate the new API’s and system-level components to developers. Codenamed ‘Moonshine‘ internally at Google, but expected to be called Android 5.0 Lollipop staying true to the dessert inspired naming convention, the next version of Android seems all but due given that Android 4.4 KitKat was released back in October 2013 and we’ve been in the 4.x naming convention since Ice Cream Sandwich back in 2011. It seems only fitting that the next release of Android finally sees us into the 5.x numbering scheme with a major update to support Android Wear.

Part of the new Android comes the appearance of 64-bit support. In recent months there has been numerous mentions of 64-bit support in the source code. The new Android will also allow devices with 4GB ram or more further hinting at the support for new architecture. Another new feature said to part of the update will be full support of ART “Android RunTime” doing away with the Dalvik. There is solid evidence for support of ART considering it is already available for devices running Kit Kat. Although it is not really know what benefits ART will be used for it is agreed that it will be for speed, optimization, and possibly battery life.

However, with Sundar Pichai, Google’s new head of Android, going on record saying Google I/O was “not a time when we have much in the way of launches of new products or a new operating system”, you have to wonder if Android 5.0 will be on the agenda, and for that matter any products at all. Likelihood 6/10

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What a better way to mark a new major version of Android than two new tablets? We’ve already heard a device codenamed Flounder appearing on various leaked documents which is heavily believed to be a new Nexus 8 tablet, but what about Google’s other tablet, you know the one that hasn’t been updated since October 2012?

We expect that Android 5.0 will be heavily geared towards optimisations for tablets and Google is stalling the next Nexus 10 to showcase the new optimised software with an updated version of the 10-inch device. HTC are expected to be the manufacturer of choice for the Nexus 10 2014 edition with LG looking to put their mark on the Nexus 8.

It seems almost certain given the leaks we’ve seen that a Nexus 8 will appear at Google I/O, with hints that a free one might be given out to the attendees. As for the Nexus 10, it would appear Google are holding out for perfecting the optimisation of Android for tablets, which although moving forward over the last few versions of Android, is nowhere near where it needs to be. Likelihood 8/10

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Whilst a new Nexus phone device will happen in 2014, unfortunately it won’t happen at Google I/O. The last Nexus 5 phone was released in November 2013 with the Nexus 4 October/November 2012, and it looks like Google will be sticking with the pre-holiday shipping window of the Nexus 5 2014 edition. Likelihood 2/10

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This is one that could really go either way, as rumours have pegged Android TV as something that exists but Google will be very wary of how much of a flop their Nexus Q was. Rather than attempt hardware and software, Android TV will take a leaf out of it’s name and instead offer a platform for hardware manufactures to use, much like Android Wear and the Android OS.

There is a hint of possible hardware being that the Android code has numerous mention of a device that doesn’t follow typical Android devices. The lock screen is disabled and there is no hint of cellular radios and WiFi being always on. Another thing that point to it being a Android TV box is that it is coded for a marvel Soc and has no touchscreen interface. Is this device just a test device for Google eyes only or will it be a relaunch of the failed Google TV by moving the project in house.

Google seems to not just want another Web TV platform but a full system complete with Games. There have been recent leaks of a rumored Game tab on Android TV pointing to a deduction to bring games into the living room. Another hint at the game factor is Google’s recent creation of a Google Play gaming studio and an acquisition of Green Throttle specifically focused on Android game controllers.

Whilst the Google Play Store has all the ingredients it needs to offer a media-rich offering for TV’s, Android TV will most likely be delayed by licensing deals with the cable companies. It wouldn’t make sense for Google to make a Chromecast competitor; the Android TV will most likely overlay TV guides and information for content, taking the TV experience one step further to work in unison with, or potentially replace, your cable box. Likelihood 5/10

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Google has already teamed up with a number of car manufacturers including Audi, Honda and Hyundai to integrate Android into a handsfree media entertainment console at the center of your car. However, we’ve seen very little of what Android has to offer when it comes to the car, expect a brief look at their implementation at Audi during CES 2014.Google also released a video showing a new driver-less car with no steering wheel. Expect to see more talk about this car and the future of the self driving technology.

Expect to see a heavy focus on Android in the Car at this years Google I/O 2014, with potentially even some demos of how far the Open Automotive Alliance has come since CES 2014 and a closer look at Google’s new driver less car.  Likelihood 8/10

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This is expected to be the big focus of Google I/0 2014. With the platform in its infancy, and many manufacturers already gearing up their smartwatches for the platform, expect to see a big developer push to get supported apps ready for the platform. In addition, it is extremely likely that now Google has had time to polish off the edges of Android Wear, that we could see a live demo on Android Wear and potentially even a prototype device.

Whilst Android Wear is a given focus for the developers conference, could Google surprise us with undercutting every manufacturer and releasing a Nexus smartwatch running Android Wear? Very possible. Much like their Nexus brand of phones and tablets, it makes every sense for the company to offer up a Nexus smartwatch, and also beat everyone else to market. Likelihood 10/10

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We’ve heard varying reports when it comes to Android Silver: some are actually calling this the next Android 5.0 release, whereas others believe the Android Silver program will be a high-end locked down heavily Google influenced and controlled line of smartphones and tablets. However, we’ve been hearing that Android Silver isn’t expected to land until early 2015 so believe that it’s separate to Android 5.0 and will instead form the beginning of an elite line of hardware that meets Googles specifications, update cycle, and experience, to be used in their retail presence to advertise the Android brand. Likelihood 4/10

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A big part of Android 5.0 is an app codenamed Google Babble which aims at unifying its various chat services which include Talk, Hangout, Voice, Messenger, Chat for Google Drive and Chat on Google+. The aim is to enable VoIP calls in the Hangout app using your Google Voice number, as well as amalgamating its various other chat services into a single app.

If not part of Android 5.0, then this one seems like a dead cert anyway. Google has already blended SMS into the Hangout app, and it seems a unified app is simply the way Google want to go. Likelihood 9/10

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Google’s entry into the home automation market was canned with mentions of Android@Home from their at-the-time partners website disappearing overnight, and the companies declining to comment.

Speculation was sparked again when Google acquired NEST, prompting thoughts that Android@Home was back in business. This isn’t the case, and it makes no sense to try and rebrand NEST. The footprint they have in the home automation market will for the foreseeable future be represented solely by NEST, and Google I/O will certainly not bring any developments to that.  Likelihood 1/10

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Is Glass ready for the mainstream? Google teased wide availability of the Google Glass with their one-day event where anybody could order a Glass in the US, but was this a retail experiment to gauge interest in the device, or simply a way of shifting stock? Whilst it doesn’t look likely that Google will already have another hardware to their Google Glass to 3.0, perhaps we will see an update to the wider availability of the Glass program for the Glass 2.0 at Google I/O. Likelihood 3/10

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Recent rumours have surfaced which suggest Google will be launching a new health service called Google Fit which will be able to aggregate and collect data from fitness trackers and health apps. The timeframe for the release pegs it for Google I/O. Sources state that Google Fit will aggregate information from wearable devices like steps and heart rate and feed them from open API’s into Google’s cloud-based services. Likelihood 9/10

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There may be some talk about Google Fiber considering I/O is all things Google and Fiber is a big deal. With Fiber appearing in more cities and being announced in more cities for the future expect to see at the least an updated list. The big deal about Fiber is will Google start to heavily ramp up operations on this front. Google Fiber’s success is important for anyone using the internet and can affect the way we use it and whats will be available to us in the for of more immerse content. For Google this means a possible radical change on Chromebooks and a ever greater presence in the minds of people.

Fiber may not even be mentioned being reserved for its own announcement but it would be fitting to at least here a mention. One of the big hints of Google Fiber’s future is that Google will take to the sky’s to bring it to the masses using existing towers and satellites. This can be a huge announcement because it will essentially bring internet to everyone and bypass all the politics of creating a hard line network.

Likelihood 2/10

THE STRANGER THINGS

Among all that Google will be announcing there is a chance of some of the radical project to be reaffirmed and or newly announced. Project that are know are project Aura, Tango, Glass, Robots, and those mysterious boats. Will Google release and actual Aura phone or Tango tablet probably not these projects seem to be just pet projects or at best years away. will Google release a robot to help us with everyday life most likely a no here also but the is hope of something new we have never even seen.

Most likely if there is and mention of these possible game changing devices and projects it will be just that a mention or a slip up by a Google Exec. The two projects that seem to stick out is Tango and Aura giving that Google has already shown them of. The other projects may end up having the own announcement at a later date considering a giant navy fleet that can bring a Google experience to any marina in the world or a personalized assistant humanoid robot may be kind off a big deal.

Likelihood 1/10.

Think we’ve missed anything that you have a feeling will make an appearance at Google I/O? Drop us a comment in the section below.