Google I/O Predictions – Reader Submission

The following article is a reader submission from Ben Feldman.  You can follow him on twitter at BenFeldman.  We’re posting the article untouched, in it’s entirety. These are his predictions for the Google I/O conference which kicks off in a matter of hours.

google_io_091Google I/O 2009 is just around the corner. Literally. It starts tomorrow, May 27, and lasts through Wednesday the 28th. There’s bound to be tons of announcements made by many Google teams, from App Engine’s XMPP and background task queue to tools for developing Google Chrome extensions, but spending the time I do in the Android community, and the time that I do on my G1, I’d like to spend a bit of time detailing what I personally expect will come about relating to Android.

Along with VentureBeat, I have been hearing rumblings that some exciting and innovative things are coming over the next 48 hours, and like VentureBeat has heard, I have gotten the inclination that these things will be more important than simply welcoming new members to the Open Handset Alliance (though I’m sure a couple more companies will officially join in time for I/O — more on that later).

Here’s what I believe is coming:

  • A top-tier company announcing a non-mobile device running Android. I’d bet on this device being a netbook or a tablet, but who knows. We’ve seen that Motorola has made Android compatible with e-Ink displays, however I doubt an Android e-Book reader will be announced at this point. I would bet that chances are good that this device or family of devices will have (or make optional) support for a major 3G network in whatever country/countries it’s released in.
  • An update on Flash for Android. I’m about 50/50 on whether it’s ready for release, as Adobe vaguely said that they expect it to be ready “by the end of this year,” so I wouldn’t be surprised either way.
  • Absolutely no news or announcement about Android 2.0 (Donut). Most people haven’t even gotten 1.5 yet, nor have most applications been updated for compatibility, so to even think about 2.0 and its implications seems ludicrous.
  • I believe that we will see features new in Android 1.5 (Cupcake) that many didn’t know existed exposed. One example I know for certain is calling into C through JavaScript. Android can already bridge Java and JavaScript (i.e., click on a button in a WebView and have it call something else in the application and vice-versa), and I know that Android now supports JNI as of Cupcake, so this will be interesting.
  • Piggy-backing on the last point, I think gaming and other graphic-intensive applications will get a big push. Not only does Cupcake include ways to integrate lower-level code that 1.0 and 1.1 didn’t, but it has a new GLSurfaceView class, which is much better integrated into the rest of the Android development model and makes using OpenGL ES significantly easier.

I’m thinking we may even see some companies that have been very successful with iPhone games announce their intentions to publish Android versions at just as high of a quality.

  • A couple more companies will join the Open Handset Alliance. There’s no doubt in my mind that this will happen. Panasonic, who has been buzzing around Android lately, confirming intentions to entire the global mobile device market early next year with it (and interestingly enough they were the first to report the Android security flaw that caused Cupcake’s one week rollout delay on T-Mobile USA: ) should be joining now or shortly, China Unicom, who actually announced that they joined the OHA on May 17, and whichever company produces the non-mobile device mentioned in the first point (assuming it isn’t ASUS or Toshiba, both of whom are already members of the OHA). Optus should also be joining, as they sell the HTC Dream with Google services and have for a few months now, as should Rogers, who will begin selling the Dream and Magic on June 2.
  • One company who could go either way: AT&T. Yeah, Engadget leaked that they have at least two Android devices planned for later this year including the HTC Lancaster, but the Lancaster will have a custom AT&T UI and custom AT&T services, so it will very likely not be a “with Google” device. The other device, the Motorola Heron, was originally scheduled to be a Windows Mobile device, but has since been changed to an Android device, and is likely to have the same custom UI and services that the Lancaster has and will not be a “with Google” device.

My guess is that if you’re a carrier or device manufacturer and want to sell a “with Google” device, you’re expected to join the OHA. Otherwise, it’s up to you. While Apple probably doesn’t have enough will-power to dictate what phones AT&T sells (then again, you never know with Apple…), they can probably pressure AT&T to not join the OHA if that’s what they want.

Who knows if any of these predictions will come true, but one thing’s for certain: the next 48 hours could get very interesting.

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