Google I/O 2014: Here’s what to expect

moto-360

On June 25, Google will open the doors to its annual Google I/O developer event. It happens barely three weeks after Apple’s WWDC, where it wowed developers with iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. Can Google steal Apple’s thunder away? Here’s what we expect Google to announce later this week.

ANDROID WEAR: This is by far going to be the biggest headlining product out of Google I/O. Google and its hardware partners will show off their smartwatches running on Android Wear for the first time in public. We should also be able to get an indicative pricing and launch timeline for both the LG G Watch and Motorola Moto 360. Recent reports suggest Samsung might also throw its hat in the ring and announce an Android Wear smartwatch of its own!

Here’s a brief preview of what smartwatches running on Android Wear will be able to do for you.

ANDROID UPDATES: It is unclear at the moment whether Google will release a new version of Android at Google I/O. With Android KitKat Google had made it optional to run apps in Dalvik or ART runtime and there have been talks of Google dumping Dalvik for ART, which will not only speed up the time apps take to load but also help in getting battery efficiency. However, that is likely to happen only with a new version of Android.

quantum-paper-android-screenshotsThe event could also be a good time for Google to show some design updates in Android, especially the unified design approach in Google’s Quantum Paper initiative that was leaked earlier this month. Essentially, all Google apps will be redesigned to look and function the same across devices and form factors.

Google could also probably show some enterprise-specific features based on its acquisition of Divide last month, but it would again be too soon to expect anything out of that acquisition.

ANDROID SILVER: Google has been for long reported to dump its Nexus smartphone program in favor of another program called Android Silver. Under this program, Google will work closely with a handful of hardware partners and help them come out with high-end smartphones giving the pure Android experience along with some unique hardware features. Google will dictate what third-party apps can be installed on those devices and users will have a choice to uninstall those apps.

htc-nexus-tabletHTC NEXUS 9: While Google might be dumping the Nexus program for smartphones, it is quite possible that Google might unveil the HTC-built Nexus 9 tablet codenamed Volantis. The high-end tablet’s specifications include a 8.9-inch 2048×1440 pixel display, an Nvidia Tegra K1 64-bit processor, 2GB of RAM, 8-megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilization, 3-megapixel front-facing camera and stereo front-facing speakers

android-tvANDROID TV: After failing with its Google TV effort, which was essentially a different platform that television makers could embrace like smartphone manufacturers did Android. This time around, Google is looking at a set-top box, not unlike Apple TV or Amazon’s Fire TV, which it is likely to call Android TV that will mimic the card UI of Apple TV and Fire TV. It could also come with a gaming remote.

ANDROID IN THE CAR: Google isn’t content with having Android on your smartwatch, smartphone, tablet and TV. It wants it to be in your car as well. In order to take on Apple’s CarPlay, Google could also show some of its efforts in bringing Android into in-car consoles and entertainment systems.

dropcam-nest ANDROID IN YOUR HOME: Google acquired Nest this January for $3.2 billion and is now acquiring DropCam in a reported $550 million all-cash deal. Google I/O would be a great platform to show developers what they will be able to do with connected homes.

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GOOGLE GLASS: Google let consumers in the US buy a limited number of Google Glass units. We expect Google to shed some more light on how the project is progressing and who knows, even a second generation of Google Glass hardware. It has been pending for a long time.

PROJECT TANGO: Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) team has a session dedicated to Project Tango and it will share details of how one if its smartphones will create a 3D map of the International Space Station.

motorola-project-araPROJECT ARA: The timeline is quite perfect for Google to reveal more about where its modular phone Project Ara has reached. The first modular smartphone is expected to be launched in January next year and Google I/O would be a great platform for Google to demonstrate a prototype or two to keep developer and manufacturer interest stoked.