The annual I/O conference is Google’s chance to get in touch with developers, and let the world know what direction they’re about to take. At the conference, we’ve grown accustomed to seeing new and innovative products or services from Google. This year may be different.
That’s not to say Google isn’t innovating. We’ve seen a lot of buildup leading into I/O, and a lot of products we’d otherwise see at the conference have come out already. Things like the Chromebook Pixel, which would traditionally make a grand appearance, had its own ceremony earlier this year. What could have been a coup de grace for I/O was instead given a smaller, quieter berth into the world.
Then we have the fresh discovery of Android 4.3. Nothing has been said in an official capacity, but its existence is undeniable. We were all set for Key Lime Pie, and now it seems another Jelly Bean iteration will come first. Not a problem, but also not what we were expecting.
So what can we expect? At this point, speculation will carry the day. Now that the schedule has come out, we’ve come to realize a clearer picture of what we may see, and what surprises may be in store. We’re also left with a lot of wiggle room, making us think some very big things are in the works.
Will we see Glass? It should make an appearance, but not like last year. The entire project is getting ready for rapid expansion, with the API having been released. As developers get more involved with Glass, we’ll begin to see more apps and services available for it… but it won’t be a huge I/O newsmaker. Expect to see it, but also expect it to be treated like part of the fold rather than a curiosity.
If 4.3 is the next step, it will likely be full of marginal improvements. Since Ice Cream Sandwich, Android is a very mature system, with not much room for major improvement. Tweaks like photosphere or lock screen widgets are great, but not a monumental improvement to the overall OS. Even if we were to see Key Lime Pie, it’s likely we’d end up with the same marginal improvements we’re likely to see with a Jelly Bean update, and would probably have been disappointed.
A new Jelly Bean also has the benefit of reducing fragmentation in the Android space, but that’s really not concerning. Fragmentation has to do with device specs more than anything else, so all the talk of fragmentation is really chatter about upgrading your device. Fragmentation concerns are probably not the reason for 4.3. If we see this new Jelly Bean variant, it will be for functionality with other services. If that is confusing, don’t worry… it will all make sense by the end.
Like Key Lime Pie, we coerced ourselves into believing the X phone was going to happen at I/O. It doesn’t seem likely, now. New benchmarks have given rise to fresh rumors, but it’s a little close to the main event for benchmarks and testing. The X phone was also rumored to usher in the Key Lime Pie era. If Key Lime Pie and the X phone are going to skip into our lives holding hands, we will probably not see either at I/O.