Google’s biggest event of the year, Google I/O, starts Wednesday with a two-hour keynote presentation starring the company’s top executives.
Google I/O is the company’s developers conference, but it’s also the event that sets the tone for most of the company’s consumer products for the next year or so.
Here’s a breakdown of what to expect.
Android Wear is Google’s new wearable computing operating system that it introduced a few months ago. LG and Motorola have both showed off prototypes of smartwatches running Android Wear, but those products don’t even have a launch date yet. Many are expecting Google and its Android Wear partners to announce more details on availability. We’ve also heard rumours that Samsung will show off an Android Wear watch during the event.
Home automation/home security
Ahead of Google I/O, Google’s Nest division announced it’s opening up its platform so any device maker can make everyday objects like lights and doorlocks “smart” and talk to each other. Nest is the company that makes smart thermostats and smoke detectors. Google bought it for $US3.2 billion last year. Nest, in turn, bought WiFi camera company Dropcam last week for $US555 million.
The new Nest platform already has some big names tied to it like Jawbone and Mercedes. For example, your Mercedes can talk to your Nest thermostat and tell it when you’re almost home. Then, your thermostat can kick in so your home is the right temperature by the time you arrive.
This is part of Google’s push into the “internet of things” trend, and it will likely give us some more details on it during the keynote.
Google TV, the software from 2010 that powered set-top boxes and some smart TVs, ended up being a failure. But it seems like Google is going to try again with a new, similar TV operating system called Android TV. In April, The Verge got its hands on some screenshots of the new Android TV interface. Based on the leak, it looks like Android TV will let you do the same things other streaming TV devices like Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV already do. That means streaming video from service like Netflix and Hulu. You’d also be able to watch stuff you purchase through Google Play, Google’s online store for digital content.
The big question will be how Google pitches Android TV this time around.
New Android updates
Google used to use its I/O event to announce new versions of Android, but that trend ended last year. Instead, it seems like Google likes to wait until the fall when it launches new models of its Nexus smartphones. Still, there have been a few reports of new Android updates on the horizon from Android Police, which include some redesigned icons and other aesthetic changes.
A new tablet?
It’s been about a year since Google launched the second iteration of its Nexus tablet, so there’s a good chance we’ll see a new model at I/O. Android Police reports that HTC will be making the next Nexus tablet, which will have an 8.9-inch screen. However, many still think the so-called Nexus 9 tablet won’t launch until later in the summer or early this fall.
Is Google+ going to be stripped down for parts?
A few months ago, TechCrunch reported that Google might strip down its social network Google+ into separate services for video chatting, instant messaging, and photo storage. The move would make sense. The head of Google+, Vic Gundotra, recently left the company. And Google+ has largely failed to become a mainstream social network like Facebook.
It’d be a good move. Even if Google+ ends up being a failure, it spawned great products like Hangouts video chat and a tool that automatically edits and organizes your photos.
Will Google Glass finally go mainstream?
It’s been about two years since Google first introduced Google Glass to the world. Today, it’s still only available to early adopters willing to drop $US1,500. Google has been promising an affordable consumer version of Glass, and this week could be when we get an important update on the project.
Between privacy concerns and a lack of a clear launch, Google Glass has had a rough time. This could be Google’s chance to reframe the conversation around the gadget.
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