Google doesnâ€™t host many eventsâ€”thereâ€™s no quarterly launch cycle, like there is with Apple, or the scattershot â€œHey we have a new phone!â€ approach from LG or Samsung. It doesnâ€™t really show up at CES or MWC.
Instead, thereâ€™s Google I/O.
I/O, like Google, is heavy on explanation and theatrics. The keynotes are always long, and thereâ€™s a significant amount to cover in just two daysâ€”which makes sense, because Google is working on everything. Weâ€™ll likely hear updates on everything from search stats to self-driving cars. Weâ€™ll hear from ATAP, Googleâ€™s crazy research division, and Google X, Googleâ€™s other crazy research division. When Google SVP Sundar Pichai takes the stage, he and a team of executives will talk about browsers, TVs, cars, smartwatches, smartphones, tablets, PCs, instant messaging, email, photos, social networks, calendars, maps, smoke detectors, wearables, video, and likely, a few surprises.
Weâ€™ll be there live, covering everything we can get our hands. Ahead of the event, though, hereâ€™s everything to keep an eye outÂ for atÂ Google I/O 2015.
Marshmallow? Marzipan? Mint Milano? Milky Way? Whatever the name of Googleâ€™s next mobile operating systemâ€¦ we probably wonâ€™t hear it at I/O. Google didnâ€™t announce Android 5.0 was called Lollipop until October, and to signal that itâ€™s still a work in progress, Google will probably stick with codenames again this year.
We will get to learn more about the OS itself, though. One system-wide feature of Android M will be that both the operating system and the apps are a little smarter, a little more able to figure out what you want and simply get it done. Google Now is becoming a hub for predictive actions, able to tell you when to leave for your appointment and how much that house for sale across the street costs. Search is more powerful than ever, too, offering more actions instead of just research. Voice commands are a theme for Google, and youâ€™ll see more of them across the OS. Google also recently bought Timeful, a calendar app that would create a schedule for you based on what you actually need to get doneâ€”itâ€™s probably too early for those smarts to really make their way across Google, but we might see some early fruits of the acquisition.
Generally speaking, Android M sounds like itâ€™s going to be work-focused, as evidenced by an accidentally posted event listing that says â€œAndroid M is bringing the power of Android to all kinds of workplaces.â€ Itâ€™s an obvious move for Android, which needs to invade businesses the way the iPhone has. Work-friendly Android probably means more and more granular privacy and security in the OS, and it might also include support for fingerprint recognition, which has been rolled out in a few phonesâ€”most notably the Galaxy S6â€”but hasnâ€™t officially been supported before. Oh, and that fingerprint reader is going to be a crucial part of Android Pay, the upgrade to Google Wallet that Pichai promised at MWC in March.
There will be lots of new features, from improved notifications to a possible new way to try apps without ever having to download them. The new Material Design will be refined and expanded, too, but donâ€™t expect gigantic overhauls. Google feels like itâ€™s hit on something powerful and lasting with the current path of Android, and you shouldnâ€™t see it deviate too much.
The Androidification of Everything
There are two sides of the Android vision. One is simple: Make Android great. The other is bigger, and actually much harder: Make everything Android. Last year Google talked about Android for your TV, your car, your watch, your faceâ€”Android everywhere, all the time.
Expect lots more of that this year. A number of manufacturers showed off Android TV sets at CES in January; those will take the stage, finished and ready for purchase. Android Auto is finally starting to bear fruit, and there will certainly be more partner announcements and more feature upgrades. And a recent report says that thereâ€™s yet another version of Android, called Brillo, designed to power the Internet of Things.
Remember last year, when Google gave everyone those odd-looking cardboard packages that turned out to be an amazingly powerful, low-rent VR system? Google does. After I/O last year, it gave every employee in the company a Cardboard set, and virtual reality is only going to become more important to Google. Itâ€™s reportedly working on a version of Android for virtual reality headsets, and it re-assigned its brilliant search designer Jon Wiley to the VR team. YouTube is supporting 360-degree video, and there are literally billions of Android devices that may soon have VR support built in. In one fell swoop, Google could become the biggest player in VRâ€”and that may happen this week.
Everyoneâ€™s also watching for Android Wear. There have been rumblings that Googleâ€™s smartwatch platform could soon support connection to iPhones, and Android M will surely bring more features to smartwatches new and old. Weâ€™ve been hearing that Googleâ€™s working on more native communication tools, to rival the Digital Touch and heartbeat-sharingÂ on the Apple Watch.
Devices, Devices, Devices
While Google might not immediately strike you as a consumer electronics company, its excess of devices argues otherwise. Plenty of Google Gadgets will get a mention on stage this week, and many could be due for an upgrade.Â
Itâ€™s possible there could be a new Nexus phone or Nexus tablet, though those both seem unlikelyâ€”Google just launched a line of cases (with Skrillex!) for the Nexus 6, and both devices are still fairly new. There will probably be some sort of virtual reality gear, which could be as simple as Cardboard or perhaps a Nexus-branded version of the amazing HTC Vive. Weâ€™re due for a new Chromecast, and for a new round of Chromebooks. Maybe even a new Nexus Player?
Of course, everyone will be waiting to see if thereâ€™s any news regarding Google Glass, which is being rebooted under the leadership of Tony Fadell and Nest. (Who, by the way, might just show up at I/O to talk about the Internet of Things.) Odds are itâ€™s too soon to see the new gadget, but an update could be in store.Â
Amid all the surprises and â€œmaybes,â€ there is one thing you can expect: smartwatches. A new version of Android Wear is coming, along with a spate of new watchesâ€”new devices from existing manufacturers like Motorola and Samsung, and possibly someÂ new interest from outletsÂ like Intel and Tag Heuer. Oh, and hey Google: Itâ€™s time for a Nexus Watch.
But Wait, There Will Be More
Googleâ€™s keynotes are two-and-a-half hours long, and theyâ€™re fantastically unpredictable. One year, a bunch of Googlers skydived live into the building; another, Larry Page invited us all onto his island where we could experiment with technology. Just last year, there was an insane Rube Goldberg machine seemingly hellbent on destruction.
Itâ€™s going to be a big show for Google, as it shows the world what the industryâ€™s strangest and most versatile company is up to. Weâ€™ll be there, covering everything live beginning Thursday morning in San Francisco. Donâ€™t miss it.
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Article source: http://www.wired.com/2015/05/moonshots-android-m-expect-google-io/