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Google I/O Preview: 8 Things To Expect

Google’s annual developer’s conference is just around the corner, and this year’s I/O event is sure to bring some worthwhile news and announcements. It seems like just yesterday the search engine giant unveiled its flagship Nexus 4 handset alongside Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the Nexus 10 tablet, and the ill-fated Nexus Q. This year Google will be cramming all of its announcements into one single keynote, and here’s a roundup of what we may see. 

Google Glass

Whether you love it or hate it, Google Glass is undoubtedly the company’s most buzz-worthy product at the moment-- meaning we’re likely to hear some updates at this year’s  I/O. Google began shipping units of its Explorer Edition to developers in last month just ahead of its annual conference, giving app creators and media members a first chance to be hands-on with the device.

So what exactly does this mean for next week’s event? It’s difficult to say exactly what Google will announce, but the company could unveil new apps for its head-mounted display, reveal the availability and pricing information for the general public, or just show us a new demo. 

Google Smart Watch

Will Google be the first major industry player to unveil a smart watch? Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and LG are reportedly crafting their own wrist-worn devices, but Google has already taken a lead in the wearable tech market with its Glass headset. The company recently filed a patent for a smart watch with side touchpad controls similar to those found on Google Glass, but has made no official announcement just yet.

According to the patent, the Google watch will come with support for wireless Internet connections and components that would be embedded into its band rather than underneath its face. Perhaps we’ll get a first look at Google’s purported smart watch at this year’s I/O, but we’ll have to wait until next week to know for sure.

Hi-Resolution Nexus 7

KGI securities analyst Ming-chi Kuo, who has a solid track record when it comes to predicting product launches, says that Google plans to launch a refreshed Nexus 7 at this year’s I/O. This new Nexus 7 would come with a 1920 x 1200 7-inch display, a 5-megapixel camera, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor and a lighter design for the same $199 price point, 9to5Google reports. The overhauled Nexus 7 seems to be a direct response to the iPad Mini based on Kuo’s predictions. It will reportedly come with new physical dimensions similar to the iPad Mini and the display is said to pack 323 pixels per inch—which is nearly the same as the iPhone 5. 

Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie or Android 4.3

Google has a knack for unveiling the next-generation of Android at its annual developers conference, and we’re not expecting this year to be any different. The trouble is that it’s unclear as to whether or not we’ll see a full-blown upgrade to Android 5.0 or another Jelly Bean update to Android 4.3. According to Android Police, recent server logs that are currently being tested point toward an Android 4.3 upgrade.

At the same time, we’ve seen reports that Key Lime Pie could be delayed for two to four months while OEMs and carriers update current phones to Android 4.2.2, according to Gadgetronica. Another conflicting rumor says that the Android 5.0 PDK is already available to Sony, although none of these bits of information have actually been confirmed.  Rumored features for Key Lime Pie include Google’s alleged multi-platform messenger Babel and improved performance via the 3.8 Linux kernel.

 Nexus 5 or Refreshed Nexus 4

Like the rumors surrounding Google’s next iteration of Android, speculation about the next-generation Nexus device falls into two categories. Some believe that Google will unveil the next-gen Nexus 5 at the event, which is rumored to come with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, a 5.2-inch OLED display, and a 13 megapixel shooter using Nikon camera technology. More recently, however, reports have suggested that Google will introduce a 32GB Nexus 4 variant with 4G LTE support.

Chrome OS Updates

Google is continuing to develop its Chrome operating system into a fully-functional desktop platform, and we wouldn’t be surprised to hear about new features during I/O. Earlier this month the company invited users to preview Chrome packaged apps, which are Web apps that exist offline and can be used on your desktop just like native software. These packed apps are only available on the developer channel of Chrome, leaving plenty of room for Google to make more Chrome-related announcements next week.

Google Play Gaming Service

Google has been long-rumored to launch a rival to Apple's Game Center, and we may finally see this idea brought to life at I/O. Android Police has reportedly obtained information from a Google Play Services file indicating that Google Play Games is in the works. The service will reportedly include features such as multiplayer support, cloud syncing,achievements, a leaderboard, and in-game chatting. This activity would be managed through a player's Google+ account and is expected to be announced at I/O on Wednesday. 

Google Babel

Persistent rumors have suggested that Google will launch a new messaging service known as Babel, which would tie together Google Messenger, Google Talk and Google Hangouts. A fresh bit of information, however, indicates that this service will become a new Google Hangouts feature rather than its own standalone service. The news comes from Verge forum user ryan_socio, who correctly predicted that Google would unveil the Nexus 4 , the Nexus 10 and a 3G version of the Nexus 7 in October 2012. According to the post, Hangouts will feature the Holo user interface, which means you’ll swipe from the right to reveal your list of current conversations.