Google’s annual developer conference has almost arrived, Google I/O is set to begin on Wednesday May 15, 9 am PDT (GMT -8), at the Moscone centre in San Francisco. If you want to keep up to date with the latest, Google will have you covered with a live-stream of the event hosted on Youtube. The live-stream is embedded below ready to be watched at the appointed time, so bookmark this page and check back to watch the extravaganza unfold, and for news on any major announcements. Alternatively you can watch the live-stream directly on youtube, or an embedded version at the official Google I/O site. If you’re unable to watch the event live, Google will provide a recording that will be available as soon as the event has ended, you can find it at either of the aforementioned links.
It’s become convention for major announcements to feature in Google’s annual extravaganza, Google TV was publicly unveiled at I/O back in 2010, 2011 saw the release of Chrome OS alongside Chomebooks from Samsung, and last years event saw the public unveiling of Google Glass in a first person, live-streamed skydive onto the roof of the Moscone Centre.
However, during an interview with Wired, Sundar Pichia, Google’s former Chrome boss and new head of Android development, warned that there won’t be, “much in the way of launches of new products or a new operating system.” An admission seemingly designed to quell the considerable pre-event hype surrounding I/O this year, but one that leaves many to ponder what’s left of interest for Google to announce. Pichia unreassuringly adds, “we’re going to focus this I/O on all of the kinds of things we’re doing for developers, so that they can write better things.” It’s easy to forget that these are ostensibly developer events, with large swells of consumers anxiously awaiting the next major announcement of their favourite device or software. A fact that’s surely exacerbated by the overly exuberant and public way in which Google tends to present their announcements.
Google’s focus this year is firmly set upon service improvements, a pragmatic decision on Google’s part, being one of the few places they earn revenue, and although it’s an aspect that’s unlikely to fill expectant consumers eyes with glee in quite the same way as a major hardware announcement, services have become an increasingly important part of a competitive OS’ ecosystem. Google is right to bolster their offering in this area, and there’s many places where an improvement is needed, but more on that later.
There’s a large amount of expectant speculation that Google’s two discrepant operating systems, Chrome and Android will see closer integration, even hybridisation. Some see this as a natural progression, following suit with Apple’s close integration between their Mac and iOS operating systems and Microsoft’s completely hybrid OS, Windows 8. Sundar Pichia has crushed these hopes too, at-least for the time being, telling Wired, “The picture may look different a year or two from now, but in the short-term, we have Android and we have Chrome, and we are not changing course.”
Having told you precisely what not to expect from this years Google I/O, what does the current rumour mill suggest we might see?
Google’s Android operating system has lagged behind Apple’s iOS in attracting games developers for a number of reasons including fragmentation and lack of integration. As with all operating systems video games continue to be one of the largest attractions to consumers, a fact that Google is well aware of. Despite mulling over the problem for far too long, Google has recently made some gains in this area, with a surge of popular titles making their way to android over the past year, and the relatively recent hiring of Noah Falstein as its Chief Game Designer. It seems they are ready to make further gains, Android Police discovered a list of features to what seems to be a multi-player games services similar to iOS’ Game Center. The service will include the usual suite of gaming network features such as: cloud game saves, matchmaking, achievements, in-game chat and leader-boards. It looks like a safe-bet that you’ll see the service in action at Google I/O however, all these details remain unconfirmed.
Some of the most excited chatter in the pre-event rumour mill has centred around the possibility of a unified messaging service, allegedly codenamed Google Babel, recently leaked in detail by TechRadar. Google has a large amount of messaging applications integrating with its vast amount of services, such as Google+, Gmail, Chrome and Android however, none of them work together. Becoming increasingly fragmented, users of these services have long sought a way to unify them, taking refuge in third-party applications such as Kik and WhatsApp. Babel is set to take over, unifying the services in an implementation similar to Apple’s popular iMessages service, but with potentially much wider reach.
There have been no details on what to expect from Google’s much maligned smart TV platform however, Google has told us to expect something, “Stay tuned for #GoogleTV news at I/O, the company teased in a blog post on Google+, we’ll have to wait and see what they have in store.
Pichia’s statements in his Wired interview back-up earlier reports that the next major version of Android, rumoured to be called ‘Key Lime Pie’, will most likely not make an appearance at the event. Instead we’re likely to see an incremental update to the current version of Android codenamed, ‘Jelly Bean,’ that’s reported to include improved OpenGl support for advanced gaming visuals and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) support, designed to conserve battery life when connecting your device to peripherals. Details of the upgrade are sparse so this list may not be exhaustive, but don’t expect too much in the way of Android announcements at Google I/O.
Google isn’t ready to release its wearable computing platform until next year, and it’s not clear how much more there could be to show, with Glass seemingly ubiquitous in the media over the last few months, and in-depth information and reviews available everywhere. However, the current version of Glass is actually no more than a slick prototype, so we may see one of the few instances of hardware announcements at Google I/O with a Google Glass upgrade. However, this is extremely speculative, it’s not certain if Google has anything more to show here, but hopefully with the release date drawing closer we may see a possible price for consumers. However, of one thing you can be sure, Google’s going to show a video detailing how select developers have created unique experiences for the platform, so prepare to be inspired.
If you have any thoughts on anything I may have missed, tell us about it in the comments. If you’re excited about a possible announcement, or annoyed at a possible omission, you can join the discussion in the comments too.
Just to remind you, make sure to check back to Across The Board to watch the event live, and to get all the latest analysis of Google’s announcements.
- Google Confirms Android and Chrome Merger Won’t Take Place Anytime Soon (hngn.com)
- Google I/O: What we expect in 2013 (androidcommunity.com)
- Google I/O 2013 Preview (androidos.in)