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What to Expect from This Week’s Big Google I/O Conference

In early June, Apple held its Worldwide Developers Conference to bring app makers and consumers up to speed on all of its latest mobile device and computer software. Now it’s Google’s turn. Google I/O kicks off June 25.

Unlike Apple’s precise OS and apps presentation at WWDC, the Web search giant turned smartphone-, tablet-, and OS-maker is expected to show us a much wider array of projects, hardware, and software at its conference.

From new updates to Android to new smart-home devices, here’s what publications across the Internet are betting we’ll see when I/O kicks off Wednesday.

Smartwatches and Android Wear
After months of posting teaser videos and dropping tidbits on the development of Android’s smartwatch operating system, sources say Google will finally show off a real smartwatch on stage. CNET is reporting that LG and Samsung will unveil Android Wear watches at the event, and Motorola, known to be developing the round-faced Moto 360 smartwatch, “could” show that off as well.

Android TV
As reported earlier this spring by The Verge, Google is taking another crack at television. This time it’s called Android TV. Google is said to be ditching the cable TV integration of Google TV and working in gaming and built-in apps (lacking in the Chromecast HDMI streaming stick). A source told Gigaom last month that Google will introduce the world to Android TV at I/O, so we hope to learn a lot more about it this week, not to mention the fate of Google TV and Chromecast.


(The Verge)

Android and Chrome OS software updates, and hardware to run them on
In an interview with Businessweek published days before the start of I/O, Android and Chrome boss Sundar Pichai said he will introduce the next version of Google’s mobile OS at the company’s upcoming developers conference. Whether we should expect a full version release (5.0: Lollipop? Licorice?) or a smaller update to the current version, KitKat, remains to be seen. But Pichai said, “I want the world to understand what we are doing sooner,” in explaining why he and Google are forgoing the regular fall schedule for the Android update, which has regularly been accompanied by a Nexus smartphone unveiling.



Of course just because it’s not a fall release, that doesn’t mean there can’t be some kind of Nexus hardware announcement. In fact, the last two Google I/Os gave us Nexus 7 tablet introductions. And if the alleged “leaks” of a Nexus 8 tablet are true, then a slightly larger, more iPad mini-ish 2014 successor may be in the cards this year.

As Google is constantly updating the Chrome OS and releasing Chromebooks and Chrome-based desktop computers through manufacturers like Samsung and Acer, rolling out a couple of new devices in that style would be no big deal. But the Chromebook Pixel, the one and only computer that Google has built itself, will be a year and a half old by the time we hit the end of this summer, so now would sure feel like a good time for a refresh of that machine.

Smart homes and smart cars
Some of Google’s biggest moves in the past year have been about ramping up the company’s presence in the fields of smart-home and smart-car software and devices. Google bought Nest about five months ago, but we could be hearing more about the Nest smart-home developer’s package that Google released just one day before I/O, which is meant to make it easier for companies to create software and gadgets that interact with Nest devices. And since the acquisition of the Dropcam home-monitoring camera companyis still fairly fresh, perhaps we’ll be given more insight into what a Nest/Dropcam device might look line, and what it might do.


(Yahoo Tech)

Google will all but certainly be bringing us the smart-car goods, too. Not only might we see more of its cute new self-driving car that’s been teased already this season but, according to AutoNews.com, the company will show off a new Android in-car operating system to rival Apple’s CarPlay. The sources claim that the in-car OS will be the first product to come out of the January formation of the Open Automotive Alliance, a Google-led group that also includes Audi AG, General Motors, Honda Motor, Hyundai, and chipmaker NVIDIA Corp.

Google Glass and the kitchen sink
We’re always prepared to be surprised by off-the-wall announcements or PR stunts at I/O. Two years ago, Google showed off Google Glass to the world in a live skydiving demonstration into the Google I/O conference. So not only is the more and more controversial and popular Glass program itself in a position to make some new news with additional style, availability, or pricing changes, but let’s not rule out the possibility of seeing some action from Google’s other moon-shot gadgets and projects.


Google has been incrementally making Glass more stylish.

The company did, after all, buy a number of robot and drone companies this past year. And let’s not forget Tango, Google’s environment-mapping mobile device project, or Ara, its modular, build-it-yourself smartphone.


Google owns Boston Dynamics, which made this terrifying robot. (funnyjunk.com)

Google will stream much of the week’s events from its I/O website, beginning with Wednesday’s 9 a.m. Pacific (noon Eastern) keynote, and Yahoo Tech will be there live to bring you coverage of and comment on the best of the conference.

Rafe Needleman can be reached at rafeneedleman@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @rafe​.