Google I/O 2014: 5 Things We Expect to See
Google I/O is the one time each year when the world gets a glimpse into what the Mountain View search giant has been working on for the past 12 months. Last year's I/O was a bit of a letdown, as the company offered little in the way of new products or services, instead focusing on upgrades to existing apps, like Google+ and Maps.
I/O 2014, however, is expected to serve up a host of intriguing developments, including an update to Google's Android OS, more information on the Android Wear watch platform and maybe even a competitor for Apple's new Health app. These are the five major announcements we expect to see at Google I/O.
1. Android 5.0
Google debuted Android 4.4 Kitkat roughly six months ago, which means the company should be just about ready to unleash the next version of its mobile OS. If a recently tweeted screenshot of Google Now is any indication, Android 5.0 may soon be on its way.
The company regularly sets the time in press shots of Android to the version number it is running. In the aforementioned tweet, which was a promotion for the World Cup, the time was set to 5:00.
Android 5.0 is expected to include an updated UI, as well as cross-platform messaging and 64-bit processing capabilities. That last bit is backed up by the fact that Qualcomm recently announced that its Snapdragon 808 and 810 Snapdragon CPUs will feature 64-bit processing.
The big question about the next Android update concerns its name. After Kitkat, Google's naming convention dictates that Android 5.0's name should start with an "L," meaning we could see Android Lemon Lime or Android Lollipop make its debut later this month.
2. Android Wear Hardware and Details
Google announced its Android Wear platform for watches about three months ago, and a good deal about the OS remains unknown. So far, Google has shown off Android Wear using Google Now voice commands and notifications, as well as customizable watch faces.
It's still unclear, however, if you can use Android Wear devices to make phone calls and if the OS will run discrete apps. And Google still hasn't indicated if it will let wearable makers customize the OS as they can with Android, or if what you see is what you'll get regardless of who makes your device.
I/O attendees could also get their hands on some Android Wear-powered devices, such as the already announced Moto 360 and LG G Watch smartwatches.
3. Google Fit
The company should launch its new Google Fit service at I/O. According to Forbes, Google Fit will aggregate data from your disparate fitness apps and devices, providing you with a single interface to view your health-related information. It's not clear, though, if Fit will be packaged as a standalone app or a service that's built into Android or Android Wear.
Apple has already turned heads with its new Health app and HealthKit developer tool, so Google is going to have to do some serious work to ensure Fit stands out.
4. Android Silver
Google is reportedly killing off its Nexus line of devices in favor of a new premium standard for pure Android devices. Dubbed Android Silver, the initiative will require manufacturers' smartphones and tablets to meet certain standards in order to receive Silver branding. Exactly what those standards are, though, no one yet knows.
According to Business Insider, The move could help Google ensure its place next to Apple as a developer of premium mobile software found only on high-end devices. Silver is also seen as a way for Google to take Android back from Samsung, which currently sells the most Android smartphones in the world.
5. Google Behind the Wheel
At CES 2014, Google announced it was joining forces with automotive giants including Audi, GM, Honda and Hyundai to form what the tech giant called the Open Automotive Alliance. The group, which also includes Nvidia, aims to help accelerate the innovation of automobile technology, including smartphone integration and safety. Since the initial announcement, though, the group has made little news. But that could change at I/O.
Oh, and it wouldn't be surprising to see a few of Google's new self-driving cars navigating the streets of San Francisco, either.
- Smartphone Interactive Buying Guide
- Smartphone Buying Guide: What You Need to Know Before You Buy
- 10 Smartphones with the Longest Battery Life