This year’s edition of Google’s annual developer conference takes place in San Francisco during June 27-29, a bit later than in previous years, when Google I/O was held at some point in May. Nevertheless, Google I/O 2012 is going to be quite interesting as we expect to see plenty of announcements during the keynotes.
We think we have a pretty good idea of what to expect this week from Google’s event, and we’re about to share it with you.
We have exclusively confirmed a few weeks ago during Computex that Google’s first Nexus-branded tablet, and first Android tablet ever, will be made by Asus. Moreover, we have seen plenty of leaks mentioning a Google Nexus 7 and an Asus Nexus 7, with all the reports suggesting Google is going to launch the device during Google I/O this year.
The 7-inch tablet is set to sport an NVIDIA Tegra 3 chip and come with a very budget-friendly price tag – $199 to $249. The Nexus tablet is not going to be an iPad rival, or at least not this version, as Google wants to take on a rather unexpected adversary in the tablet business, one that could do more harm to the Android tablet ecosystem than the iPad.
Yes, it’s Amazon, as its $199 Kindle Fire tablet running a custom de-Google-ized Android version quickly became a best-selling device for the electronic retailer. At the same time, the Fire became a fierce rival for the products of regular Android tablet makers. By “regular,” I mean everyone else that’s creating tablets running a Google-approved Android version.
Google completed the Motorola purchase back in May and we expect to see the first Google Motorola smartphones hit stores later this year. But what’s strange about these devices is that there aren’t any leaks out there mentioning them. We already know that Motorola inked a multi-year multi-device deal with Intel and announced it at CES 2012, therefore we expect some of the future Google Motorola smartphones to come with Intel chips inside.
While the Nexus 7 will certainly be the star of the show, we definitely expect Google to share more details about its future hardware plans. The company keeps saying it will not give preferential treatment to Motorola, but that doesn’t mean it’s not working on some new Motorola Android devices, does it?
The word on the street is that Jelly Bean is the Ice Cream Sandwich successor and that the Nexus 7 tablet will ship with Jelly Bean on board. But is Jelly Bean Android 5.0 or Android 4.1? A recent leak suggested that Android 4.1 is going to be called Jelly Bean, thus implying that we’re looking at an incremental update rather than a full-blown OS refresh like Ice Cream Sandwich was.
Maybe that’s not such a bad thing for Android, considering the fragmented state of the OS. Unfortunately for Google, which would have loved to see ICS on as many existing Android handsets and tablets as possible by now, ICS adoption has been quite shy. Currently, just over 7% of Android devices run ICS, with the majority of smartphones and tablets still on Android 2.3 Gingerbread. By launching an incremental Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update, the Search giant would give more time to Android device makers to bring their devices up to date.
By launching Siri last October, Apple challenged everyone else in the mobile business to come up with a better voice-based virtual assistant. Samsung released S Voice, currently available on the Galaxy S3, and LG launched Quick Voice a few weeks ago. Moreover, even HTC is said to release its own virtual assistant.
But no matter how good these apps would be, we still expect Google to launch one such virtual assistant that would work on more Android devices. Various report say that Majel is the codename of that virtual assistant and we wouldn’t be surprised to see it demoed on stage during Google I/O. After all, developers will surely love to use the assistant with some of their apps, so why not unveil it this week?
Google hosted a special Google Maps event on June 7, a few days ahead Apple’s own WWDC 2012 developers conference. The purpose of this even was pretty clear, to be the first company to announce an advanced 3D mapping system. And Google was indeed the first one to unveil its Google Maps 3D product. More importantly, Google unveiled Google Maps Offline during the event as well, but failed to mention actual release dates for either product. Therefore, we’re expecting the company to reveal more details about its Google Maps major updates later this week.
We have recently learned that Google is working on the next Google Wallet version. Soon after that, we saw Microsoft’s own Wallet Hub that’s going to be found aboard of upcoming Windows Phone 8 devices. Furthermore, considering that three of the top four U.S. carriers are working on their own mobile payment solution called ISIS, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Google introduce Google Wallet 2.0 at Google I/O 2012.
Android is not just a mobile OS for smartphones and tablets, as it can be used for a lot of other activities, neatly tied with Android devices, of course. We expect the Search giant to reveal more details about its Android plans related to other parts of our lives, such as home, work and other instances, and we’re certainly going to keep you updated on everything Android-related that comes out of Google I/O.
Google is rumored to unveil a new cloud-based product during Google I/O 2012, specifically made for enterprises. This IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) cloud-based product would let companies rent virtual servers and/or storage space and thus challenge Microsoft’s Azure and Amazon’s EC2 similar offers.
The product will not necessarily mean much to end-users but companies could certainly appreciate such IaaS offerings from a new player, ready to challenge giants such as Microsoft and Amazon.
Since we are talking about cloud-based initiatives for enterprises, we’ll remind you that regular consumers of Google online services are also waiting for a little something when it comes to cloud-based resources. Google Drive Offline is one such product and recent reports suggested it will be unveiled during Google I/O this year.
Google is taking virtual reality to the next level with Project Glass, a futuristic project that could easily be paired with the future of Android. We have seen Project Glass demoed already and we know it’s a very important product for Google’s top executives, so we’re definitely expecting it to make an appearance during Google I/O, even if the device is months away from a public release.
Google also has a desktop cloud-based operating system that it keeps updating, but Chrome OS is yet to see a widespread adoption with the crowds. The competition is very tough in the desktop environment, where Microsoft’s Windows owns a large piece of the pie, with Apple’s OS X trailing behind but constantly expanding. Nevertheless, Google has no plans to ditch Chrome OS, or to merge it with Android, which means we’re still going to see Chrome OS updates and more Chromebooks in the wild.
The Chrome browser on the other hand doesn’t need any more praises. It’s one of the best Internet browsers out there, and since it works on any desktop OS, it managed to surpass in popularity most, if not all, its competitors.
With that in mind, we should see some Chrome-related action at this year’s Google I/O as well.
Just like Chrome OS, Google TV did not become the hit product Google envisioned it to be. Eric Schmidt said in late 2011 that Google TV will be embedded in most new TVs by this summer. It’s summer already and that hasn’t happened, so we’d expect to see Google detail its Google TV plans for the remainder of the year at Google I/O.
The product must still be important for the company, as it could bring another stream of ad-based revenue to the Search giant. Moreover, lets not forget that Apple is rumored to build its own iOS-based HDTV, which means we could soon see an Apple vs Google battle in the TV business as well.
Why is Larry Page on our list? Recent reports have revealed that following certain health issues, the CEO won’t make it to this year’s edition of Google I/O. Google did not reveal that many details on Page’s health problems, and the secrecy surrounding the topic reminded us of the secrecy that surrounded the late Steve Jobs’ health issues.
Investors, Android developers and Google fans would certainly like to see him on stage during the keynotes, despite what current reports are saying, and most importantly, they’d like to see there’s no major health issue in the picture.
Pinterest for Android is hardly an interesting topic from Google’s point of view since the company has its own social network that it’s trying to market with help of all its other web properties. But the word on the street is that the social network will launch its official Android app during Google I/O, and I’m sure plenty of Android users that are active on Pinetrest will love to take the app out for a spin as soon as possible.
We’ll be back with more Google I/O 2012 coverage for you, so stay tuned for more Android, Chrome, Google TV, and Google news this week!