It's the biggest, baddest, and most fun event of the year. See what your favorite folks from Android Central think we'll be seeing
Our favorite time of the year starts in just a few more days -- Wednesday, May 15 to be exact. We're talking about Google I/O of course. Not that we don't get excited by the happenings at Mobile World Congress, or CES, or even carrier and manufacturer events, but I/O is all Google all day (and night), and that's pretty important to any Android fan. In years past we've seen some awfully cool stuff, some were blockbusters and some, well, not-so-much. But we enjoyed seeing every single thing.
And there's more to Google I/O than the keynote extravaganza. Skydiving and announcements of the year's coming tech is pretty exciting, but you also get to sit in and hear the people who make Google and Android great talk shop with some of the best developers in the business. If you're a geeky type, it's like Nirvana. And even if you're not, it's still absolutely awesome to see the passion that everyone has for Google and Android.
We're going to be there of course, and we'll tell you everything that's going on in and around the Moscone Center. It's going to be a blast, but just what do we expect to see? We're going to answer that one. Hit the break, see what we think, and when it's all said and done we can see just how right (or wrong) we were.
What I expect to see:
Unicorns that shoot laser beams from a gold-encrusted horn.
I'll start with the obvious. I'm pretty sure we're going to see a new version of Android. It might be 4.3, or 4.3_rsomething, but it's coming. And it's not going to be earth-shattering. Android is now at the point where big, sweeping changes are no longer needed. It's time to focus on the details, and make the important changes that really make a difference. Better Bluetooth support (including Bluetooth Low Energy), easier and better ways to send and receive group SMS, or any of the other things our favorite OS does to annoy the crap out of us. As things progress, we'll eventually see another huge update to Android -- but not now. We don't need one.
I think we'll see some new hardware to go along with it, too. Nothing earth shattering (at least nothing that we'll get to buy any time soon), but a better-stronger-faster version of the Nexus 7 is a given. I also have a feeling that we'll see that there/not there LTE in the Nexus 4 dealt with. I'm really thinking Google will let T-Mobile turn it on and run with it, but not so sure we'll see a version for any other carriers. Licensing is hard when you build developer phones and redistribute the software.
We'll also see a new Chromebook. There are too many code submissions being made from folks like NVIDIA and the Googlers themselves for there not to be new hardware out there. From what i can see, think Tegra 4 with a touch screen that you'll be able to rotate. Maybe a tablet. And Chrome is going to get a lot of focus itself. Look for Google to announce a slew of big changes that make us all get interested again.
It's also time to talk more about Android at Home and especially Android and Chrome OS in your living room. How it has progressed, what's in store and how technology like Wifi direct and NFC will be used with it. Remember the Nexus Q? Imagine it with an NFC enabled Bluetooth controller and updated software that will play Android games. Google always has a reason for the crazy things they do. Sometimes, we get to see them.
What I hope to see this year:
I want a Sprint Nexus 4, dammit. I realize that it isn't really Google's decision but I don't care. The Hesse and the Googlers need to make it happen. Sprint missed out on the Nexus One, but have been great partners for the rest of them. That means something. Unlimited LTE Nexus baby.
The rest? Sure I want watches and glasses everywhere, but I'd rather see Google focus on the things they've already started, and think they will.
What I think we'll see:
I'm expecting a big focus on wearables, too. We'll most likely get the Google Watch, with Google Now. (If it's not at I/O, it'll arrive shortly thereafter.) It'll run Android, connect to existing Android handsets, be inexpensive and sold through Google Play, and the ability to wear Google Now will be awesome. Look for a Glass-like, card-based layout. As for Glass itself, Google will want to get developers up to speed and help them create awesome apps for its flagship wearable device. Attendees will probably get another chance to buy the explorer edition. Maybe people will also jump out of a blimp.
Beyond that, we'll get new hardware of the more traditional sort. It's the obvious time to refresh the Nexus 7, and rumored specs including an 8-inch 1080p screen with trimmed-down bezel make a lot of sense. The Nexus 7 has been hugely successful, so an ASUS-made Nexus 8 wouldn't surprise me at all. A few months back we heard a rumor of a possible mid-range, Motorola-made Nexus phone, and though I wouldn't bet on it making an appearance, things could get really interesting if Google comes out with an aggressively-priced mid-range Nexus phone aimed at the U.S. market. On the other hand, does the current $299 Nexus 4 really leave room for this? I'm not so sure.
Speaking of the Nexus 4, I think there's a 50/50 chance of at least one LTE-capable Nexus 4 model making an appearance during this year's conference. With the right firmware update (and FCC certification) the current model could do T-Mobile LTE. We've also heard of AT&T and Sprint models being tested in the past, though that trail has gone cold in recent months. This one could go either way.
Finally, Chromium OS code hints at the possibility of a Tegra 4-powered Chromebook, and I think there's a reasonably good possibility of such a device showing up at I/O. Which leads me into what I wish to see from the show --
What I wish we would see:
Google's desktop OS is still hobbled by its network connectivity requirements, so I'd like to see Chrome OS mature into a more capable, more modern computing platform. You don't put a retina-beating display in a notebook if you don't plan on extending its OS far beyond a simple web browser. If the Chromebook Pixel is for what's next, then I want to see "what's next" from Google next week.
And whatever happened to the Nexus Q? Things have been awfully quiet since Google's cannonball-shaped streaming sphere was mothballed in mid-2012. Give me a Q with the hardware and software capabilities to justify its price tag. Between Google TV, Google Fiber and the Q, Google's living room presence is a mess. I'm hoping this side of things will become more coherent at this year's I/O.
What I expect to see:
We will get a new version of Android, but not a game-changing one. Since Google used the J-release moniker twice already, this next version will be the K-release (most assume it will be Key Lime Pie). Android 4.3 will come on a new device, either the next generation 7-inch Nexus tablet, or a CDMA version of the Nexus 4 for Verizon and/or Sprint. If we do see a new Nexus 4, it will have more storage -- at least 32GB. Google will combine multiple communication apps into one messaging super-app, which syncs very nicely between multiple devices.
What I wish we would see:
I would love to see a new phone and tablet with Motorola hardware and pure Google software. They could be Nexus devices, or "Motorola X" devices -- call them whatever you want. I want Google to include huge camera software improvements in the next version of Android, majorly boosting performance in all photo-related areas for their Nexus devices. I'd also like a retail version of Google Glass to be released, with direct orders immediately available from the Play Store. The companion accessory I'd want included in the Google Glass launch is a watch -- Google Wrist.
What I expect to see:
An updated version of Android, that's probably a given. Google likes to give us new stuff at their own developer conference and this year shouldn't be any different. I'm also expecting Glass to feature heavily now units are out in people's hands, and another chance for developers to buy units. I'm also expecting something interesting from the Chrome team. Google surely didn't just make the Pixel because they could. I've got a feeling we might see some good stuff for Chrome.
What I'd like to see:
More content in more countries from Google. I'm in the UK and I can't get TV programmes yet from the Play Store, yet I can on BlackBerry 10. There's still too big a gap in Google's content reach around the world. I'd also like to see a new Nexus Q style device, with a more global launch to watch said content on.
Here is what I expect from Google I/O:
I expect Google to focus heavily on incremental improvements to Android, Chrome and Google+. As we inch closer to the conference, the rumors are swirling that we’ll see 4.3 rather than 5.0. This may disappoint a lot of people, but it may be a good decision in the long run. Plus, it doesn’t mean it can’t include some great features. With the appointment of Sundar Pichai to Android in addition to his Chrome responsibilities, I’m sure we’ll hear a lot about both, while hearing an emphasis about how they will remain separate entities. Google+ will also see many improvements, probably a write API and more cohesion across Google services. Glass will of course be featured, but I don’t think we’ll see something extravagant like last year.
What I want to see:
Key Lime Pie. MMS for Google Voice. Improved video and audio quality for Google+ Hangouts. New Nexus devices would be great. I agree that we’ll probably see a refreshed Nexus 7, but I’d also really like to see a new Nexus phone. Some new Chromebooks as well. I’m a Chromebook fan, but not for a Pixel price. Some new lower priced Chromebooks would be great.
What I expect:
We’re pretty much looking at a lock for Android 4.3 to be released, and as the numbering convention suggests this will be an incremental update rather than a complete redo of major components of the OS. I expect it to also be called Jelly Bean once again, as a move to the “K” version may cause some confusion about how big of a change we’re getting. As for individual features it’s anyones guess at this point. Outside of full platform releases, I expect a good amount of talk about apps and games, and how Google is planning to handle the issue of transferring app data (think game saves) between your different devices. I also expect a good bit of talk about Google Glass and how it will tie in with Google’s other services, especially since many of the Explorer Edition units have started to ship out.
What I hope for:
Going way off the rails, I hope for some serious information about a consumer product release of Google Glass in terms of design, pricing and even a launch window. We don’t have anything more than a few off the cuff statements about “the end of 2013”, and I think I/O would be a great time to get more attention on it. In terms of Android, I want to see what Google has up its sleeve for this rumored unified chat service. As someone who relies on Google Voice daily, I think it’s time for a complete ground-up redo of the whole system. On the device front, I think everyone would be pleased by a refreshed Nexus 7 and Nexus 10, and while I don’t even hope for a Nexus phone refresh at this point in the year Google could really do us a favor and start shipping the current Nexus 4 with T-Mobile LTE enabled.
The gang has the big stuff covered, I think. It might be cliche, but the tech stuff is only half of the awesomeness that you get to see at Google I/O. (OK, one-third if you count the fire-breathing, levitating robots. But I'm not sure I'm supposed to talk about them.) It might be a little cliche, but, damn it, the most important part of Google I/O really is getting meet the developers. The folks who really make all this work, be they the men and women within Google, or the coders from the entire world who make it to Moscone West for the week.
We're lucky to be there. It's an incredible sight, to see so many people from so many countries so excited to learn about Android. There's no other developer conference like it. Here's to an awesome week.
So there you have it. Some of your favorite Android bloggers and pundits have laid out just what they have in mind for Google I/O 2013. Now tell us what you think we'll see, or what you want to see (or both) in the comments. And be sure to keep checking Android Central for the latest news from San Francisco, and follow the site on Google+ for the stuff that's too cool not to share -- there will be plenty of it!
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