Google I/O preview: what to expect from the biggest Google event of the year

by: Bogdan PetrovanJune 23, 2014

Google-IO-2013 IO logo Close up 1600 aa

Google I/O is starting on Wednesday, and this year, we have tons of exciting stuff to look forward to.

I/O may be a developer-centric conference, but the event has always been a celebration of all things Google more than anything else. And boy, there’s a lot to celebrate. Android is taking over the world, making the jump from smartphones and tablets to the fast growing field of wearables, to autos, to smart home systems, and your living room. And that’s just on the Android front – from self-driving cars, to Chrome OS, to balloons in the sky, to computers on your face, Google’s projects are amazingly prolific and bold.

Let’s briefly go through some of the developments that are likely to happen at Google I/O this year.


Android Wear and Google Glass

Android Wear, an implementation of Android designed specifically for smartwatches and other wearable devices, will likely be center stage at Google I/O 2014. The conference schedule includes several Wear-focus sessions, and multiple reports suggest that LG and possibly Motorola will fully reveal their smartwatches at the conference. The LG G Watch in particular seems like a safe bet, as sources told us Google will be giving away a G Watch to every conference attendant.

Besides the G Watch and the Moto 360, Samsung is also said to be showing its own Android Wear smartwatch at Google I/O, though we have no details on it. It’s possible that other Wear partners will join in the fun (Asus, HTC?), but that’s just speculation.

Will I/O 2014 mark Glass’ full public debut? There haven’t been leaks about it, and the conference session doesn’t seem to suggest a big Glass push this year. But Glass just launched officially in the United Kingdom, so it’s possible that Google I/O will bring some more good news for international users.

Philips Android TV

Phillips take on an Android-powered television set.

Android TV and Google’s set-top-box

Having a solid foothold in the living room is crucial for any digital ecosystem to thrive, and Google has long tried to establish itself in this area. Google TV has failed, and the Chromecast, while relatively successful, is too basic to form the backbone of a living room stack. Have no fear, Android TV is coming to the rescue.

Android TV is rumored to be Android adapted to large screens, in a way Google TV never was

Android TV is rumored to be Android adapted to large screens, in a way Google TV never was. Instead of Google TV’s tablet-like interface, Android TV will feature content in scrollable tile stacks that should be way easier to navigate with a simple remote. There will be all the apps you’d expect from a smart set-top-box, including access to the Play Store, and content from big providers like Netflix and Pandora. Gaming will be a big component of Android TV, leaked screenshots have shown, and it’s possible that Android TV devices will come with Bluetooth controllers, either bundled or offered as separate accessories.

Code found on Google’s servers suggests that the company is working on its own Android TV device. Presumably codenamed “molly”, this device may be a reference set-top-box in the vein of Nexus devices, though we don’t know if Google will launch it as “Nexus TV”.

Past rumors said Android TV/Nexus TV would launch at Google I/O, but there aren’t any sessions at I/O overtly covering developing for TVs, which may be a sign that Google isn’t ready yet to show Android TV. But session schedule isn’t a perfect predictor of I/O announcements, so Android TV remains on our list.

audi infotainment

Android in the car

There was little news on the auto front since Google and several global carmakers announced the Open Automotive Alliance back in January. That could change on Wednesday, according to one report, which claims Google will introduce Auto Link, a feature that will allow drivers to control their Android smartphones with the controls in their cars.

It doesn’t make much sense to build embedded operating systems for cars, when you can simply project a phone’s interface to the in-dashboard touchscreen and make it driver friendly. We first heard about this “projected mode” in a Mercedes job listing from March, and incidentally, Apple is taking the same approach with the CarPlay initiative.

Google will probably announce Auto Link at Google I/O, but don’t expect to hear any announcements about specific car models that will use the technology.

android 4.4 kitkat logo 1

New Android version? New Nexus tablet?

Things complicate a bit when it comes to the chance of seeing a new Android version announced at I/O. Google typically releases major Android versions alongside a reference device, usually a smartphone. This year, HTC is rumored to make a Nexus 9 tablet, but that will only launch in Q4 2014, so it’s unlikely that Google will come up the long-awaited L-release at I/O this week.

We can’t really rule out a smaller point release though, and a preview of features coming in a future update is possible as well.

We don’t expect new Nexus hardware, but Google may offer some information on Android Silver, the program that will reportedly replace Nexus devices starting in early 2015. The cat is already out of the bag, with several outlets reporting on it, so Google might as well come clean.

Quantum Paper Google Design

Design changes and new features

There’s been a lot of talk lately about a big redesign coming to Google’s apps, that would bring a more consistent look across Android, web, and iOS. Dubbed Quantum Paper, the initiative could be announced at I/O, along with tools for designers and developers to implement the new guidelines.

Judging from the sessions, design will be a main focus of I/O this year. Even Matias Duarte, head of Android UX, hinted at a design-centric I/O edition and encouraged designers to attend the conference. Moreover, Duarte talked about his belief that mobile, as the central focus of UX designers, is dead, and that future UI implementations from Google will scale across screen sizes, from smartwatches to big screen TVs.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about a big redesign coming to Google’s apps

But it’s not all design – Google may be rolling out a new fitness-focused backend service similar to Play Games, that would make it simpler for app developers to tap into the data collected by fitness gear. Another rumored feature that could come even without an OS update is wider support for Google Now voice commands.

google self driving car prototype

All the other cool stuff

Project Tango, Project Ara, driverless cars project, Nest, Chrome OS, Project Loon, smart contact lenses, Google Now, the list goes on and on. Google has dozens of ongoing projects, ranging from intriguing to the downright futuristic. And that’s without counting the wonders coming out of the Google X skunkworks, of which we hope to see something new and amazing this week.

Android Authority at Google I/O

As usual, expect round the clock coverage of all the new and interesting stuff coming out of Google I/O. This year, we only have Josh Vergara on the ground in San Francisco, but rest assured that Josh is perfectly capable of delivering some amazing videos all by himself. The rest of the team will at home, glued to the monitors, watching the livestream and reporting on all the announcements as they come.

What are you excited the most this year at Google I/O?

  • Jayfeather787

    Google is pretty darn amazing.

    • Corbin Crutch

      Yeah they are!

    • Unicorn741

      Yah they are so amazing it’s hard to describe… They have such incredible strategy, they always win they are like superman of the internet.

  • Unicorn741

    I want Appleware ! I want sliced Apple on my table google ! Get rid and rip off them ! I want my gontinuity, gmessage an guick type keyboard, an all photo gloud, Google health kit, Google home kit, google search in spotlight, 64-bit support, a new programming language, google metal, and another 4000 new API’s !!! All in an all new translucent and flat design ! I want all of them !


    • Unicorn741

      Kill the iWatch kill the carPlay ! Before it’s even born !

    • Corbin Crutch

      You might want to leave here for a bit to cool down….

    • Corey Watford

      I think when you typed Apple, you meant BlackBerry. Try using Swiftkey, works wonders for typos.

      • Unicorn741

        Thanks for a good tip brother, but my screen is so rough it’s hard to use swiping keyboard. And seriously, what could the big G copy from blackberry ? They were crushed by Android long ago…

        • Sequoia46.2

          You don’t have to use the swipe feature. With tap typing, SwiftKey has the best autocorrect out there.

  • Corbin Crutch

    If they do announce ALL of this… This will be undoubably one of their biggest IOs. I love it!

    • Unicorn741

      A budget OS ? Seriously !? THIS IS THE OS FOR PIONEERS IN MOBILE SPACE. not for overpriced budget crap !

      • Corbin Crutch

        Excuse me?

        • Unicorn741

          You are excused brother ! Amen !

          • Corbin Crutch

            Maybe you’re not fallowing… EXCUSE ME?!?!

          • Corbin Crutch

            Much better

  • MegaDragonite

    So if you root your car, is your warranty voided?

    • Corbin Crutch

      xD Only if you can’t get to recovery

      • Jayfeather787

        You’ve changed your identity!! You are MasterMuffin are criminals!!!

        • Crutchcorn

          Guity. :P Wait…. HE HAD A PREVIOUS IDENTITY?!?!

          • Jayfeather787

            No but he’s a criminal because he’s MasterMuffin.

          • Crutchcorn

            Damm….. He got to you too!

    • MasterMuffin

      Surprise systemui crash!

      Oh and a tip: overclocking your car will make it go faster trrrrust meh

      • Jayfeather787

        I trusted you!!! I exploded da engine!! Why u do dis to me?!?! I hold you responsible!!

        • MasterMuffin

          You’ll never find me! >:D

          • Android Developer

            No worry, install a new kernel and everything will be good again. :)

          • Jayfeather787

            NOOOO!!!! Get back here!! Villian!!

        • HowToRebootACarOS

          It’s ok, just close all the windows, then open them again.

      • Crutchcorn

        “How do I get to canada”

        “Will that be by car or plane?”

        • MasterMuffin

          I can imagine that happening :D

          • Crutchcorn

            At lease it’s no Apple Maps. xD Android Auto looks AWESOME!

          • MasterMuffin

            Yea in the maps department Google takes the victory 100-0

      • Sunny

        King commenter!

  • fredphoesh

    My biggest hope is for Android TV to be dealt with. I have two android boxes in my house, and they are good, but could be a lot better.

  • BZ

    Will google know how many chicks I pick up and tag them every time I do and update >D

  • Kyle Ong

    The android TV is kinda intersting. Imagine samsung or Lg, also tv makes, did it. Beside the heavy ui…knock knock, fingerprint sensor, heartbeat monitoring..n not forgetting the curved

    The android car..”hello google…..take me to…” cool.
    hv kit kat run on mtk chip

  • we’re counting on you josh HAHAHAH :D