What to expect from Google I/O 2013

Google_I/O_preview

In just a few hours Google will kick-off its annual developer conference, the I/O and if last year’s event was anything to go by, the California-based company has a huge act to follow. Though Head of Android Sundar Pichai did his best to subdue the high expectations, people around the world are still waiting to see what the search giant will unveil at the conference.

Let’s take a look at what we can expect at the Google I/O this year.

SOFTWARE

Though rumors about the next Android update, thought to be the Key Lime Pie, circulated for quite a while, in the past few weeks reports have claimed that Google will not be releasing Key Lime Pie after all and instead will unveil version 4.3 of Jelly Bean at the I/O.

Besides the OS update, it is also believed to be planning a launch for a Spotify like subscription-based radio service after having secured licensing deals with Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music Group.

Then there is Babel or Hangout as it is also known, which is a unified chat application rumored to be under development for the Android platform. This new chat application is said to use your Google+ account and allow one to chat, share photos, messages, or even video chat from a single app.

Google’s Maps is also set to get an update, with news circulating on the Internet that a completely overhauled Maps app will be unveiled that will flaunt a new UI and introduce features like Flight Search integration, and the ability to compare multiple modes of transportation on the map itself.

In addition to the above, we can expect the Google Play Games service to be unveiled, which as we reported, is Google’s answer to the Game Center on iOS. Though it was considered to be a rumor for quite a while, recently leaked images have given conclusive proof that there indeed is such a service and is expected to offer features like achievements, in-game chat, matchmaking, cloud save syncing, and a leaderboard feature.

HARDWARE

The Nexus 7 grabbed all the spotlight and headlines at last year’s I/O. This year though, it is highly unlikely that Google will show a brand new device like the Nexus 8, but instead reveal an updated version of the Nexus 7. As we reported earlier, the updated tablet is said to boast a full-HD display and feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, instead of the Tegra processor functioning in the current-gen tablet.

On the smartphone front, reports have claimed that LG might be developing a 5-inch Nexus 5, but somehow it is hard to believe that it will be shown later tonight. Instead, we could very well see the white Nexus 4 that leaked earlier this morning and might turn out to be an updated version of the Nexus 4.

The highly secretive X-Phone too has been fueling the rumor mills for a long time with image and specs leaking at regular intervals. CEO Larry Page has even gone on record to say that the X-Phone will sport a waterproof body and an unbreakable display. But somehow we do not think it will grace the I/O stage this year.

With the likes of Apple and Samsung rumored to be working on a smartwatch, Google too is believed to be developing a competitor and though it did deliver on the Glass front, it is somehow difficult to believe that such a device will feature in the conference this year.

We also expect the Google Glass to hog some spotlight this year. With developers having got their hands on the device, we could get a glimpse into how this device can be used in the real world, instead of just being a prototype kept on one’s shelf.

In addition to the above, reports have also claimed that Samsung and Google could announce a new device called the Galaxy S4 Google Edition, which would essentially be the original Galaxy S4 running on stock Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and also sporting a customized back cover having a “With Google” logo. Rather than a commercial launch, we think that Google plans to give the Galaxy S4 GE to I/O attendees, as it has done before with the Galaxy Nexus last year and the limited-edition Galaxy Tab 10.1 the year before.

Overall this year’s Google I/O is shaping up to be a subdued affair, compared to last year. But that doesn’t mean Google won’t surprise us with a couple of aces up its sleeves. The I/O begins at around 9:30pm tonight and tune in to the I/O webpage to watch the live webcast.