Google’s biggest event of the year, the I/O developers conference, kicks off next week with a lengthy three-hour (!) keynote where the company is expected to go over a slew of new products and services that’ll be rolling out in the weeks to come.
Of course nothing is official yet, but there are already plenty of rumblings about what to expect from Google next week. Here’s what we know so far, plus some speculation of other stuff we expect Google to address.
Early consensus seems to be that Google will announce a new version of its mobile operating system Android. However, it will likely just be a minor update to the current version and keep the same “Jelly Bean” branding it’s had since last year’s I/O conference. Many were expecting Google to announce a new version called 5.0 Key Lime Pie at I/O this year, but we don’t have any evidence that such an update is ready yet.
A New Tablet
Most are expecting Google to unveil an updated version of its 7-inch Nexus 7 tablet. The tablet originally debuted at last year’s I/O, and was a big hit with reviewers for packing in great features at an incredible value. (The Nexus 7 sells for $199.)
According to some reports, the next-generation Nexus 7 will be made by Asus and have a sharper display, faster processor, wireless charging, and a slimmer body. It should also maintain that $199 starting price.
There’s also a chance Google will announce the Nexus 11, an 11-inch tablet made by Samsung.
A New Phone From Motorola?
There’s been a lot of buzz about new smartphones from Google-owned Motorola. Several months ago, The Wall Street Journal reported that Motorola was working on a device called the X-Phone with direct guidance from Google. Recently, Google CEO Larry Page hinted that future phones from Motorola wouldn’t break if you dropped them and would have incredible battery life.
There’s been a lot of speculation that we’ll finally get a look at Google and Motorola’s first real collaboration at this year’s I/O event. No guarantees, of course.
A New Chat Platform
Right now Google has several ways to chat with your friends: Google Talk, Google Voice, text messaging on Android, Google+ Hangouts, etc.
At I/O this year, Google is expected to merge all of these services into one mega-platform under the Hangouts brand, according to TechRadar. That means you’ll only need to use one app to communicate across all of Google’s services.
New Look For Google Maps
According to some leaked screenshots, Google will likely announce some design changes to the Web version of Google Maps. The update strips out the sidebar and displays all information directly on the map instead. It also incorporates venue recommendations from your Google+ connections.
New Features In Chrome
It looks like the Chrome Web browser is about to get a new update that adds Google Now, the intelligent voice-powered assistant that debuted on Android devices last year. Some have discovered code in Chrome that enables pop-up notifications that will be used to show Google Now updates. There’s a good chance Google will formally introduce the feature at I/O.
We’re expecting to learn a bit more from Google about Glass, the computerized headgear Google started shipping to testers in recent weeks. The version you may have seen people writing about lately is actually an early model of the device. The final product won’t be ready until next year. Hopefully, Google will give us a better idea of how developers will be able to create apps for Glass and when normal people will be able to buy their own device.