What was missing from Google I/O?

June 27, 2014
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google io 2014 keynote (6 of 41)

Some companies are like snipers, camping patiently for hours with a laser focus to pick off their next project, while Google jumps out of the bushes with a rocket launcher and fires it at the moon.

We love the fact there are so many potentially exciting things on the horizon, but it inevitably means some of them have to take a back seat sometimes. Maybe the timing’s not right, maybe they’re far off being ready, and maybe they’ll never land at all. Only time will tell.

If you need to catch up on what was announced, then check out Google I/O in under 7 minutes.  A full update of Google’s roster would make for a 12 hour keynote and no one really wants that, but here are a few of the missing things we either expected or hoped to hear about at Google I/O this year.

The future of Nexus and Android Silver

nexus-10-logo

The rumors were flying a while back about the death of the Nexus line and the birth of Android Silver. Will there be a Nexus 6 smartphone? How about the long rumored Nexus 8 tablet? Why hasn’t there been a new Nexus 10? Google wasn’t likely to unveil new hardware at I/O, the annual Nexus phone cycle points to an October or November reveal. The first two Nexus 7 tablets were July releases, so we may not have long to wait on that score. As for the Nexus 10, who knows? The original was announced way back in 2012, so an update feels overdue.

We’ll have to wait a bit longer for new hardware, but the good news is we did get some clarification on Nexus and Silver after the keynote. Dave Burke says Nexus is here to stay and as Android’s head of engineering he should definitely know. We still expect Android Silver to launch soon and we aren’t any the wiser about the details, but we’re glad it doesn’t spell the end for Nexus. It’s possible that the blueprint revealed for budget devices with Android One is a clue to how Google might handle Silver at the premium end of the market.

Google Glasses for the masses

Smart eyewear is an intriguing idea and it seems to be having a polarizing effect on people, but few in the pro camp are going to find it interesting enough to drop $1,500 (£1,000) on. After two years and an open beta you would think Google might be ready for a consumer release, but there was nary a peep about the Glass project. Even when the chat turned to Android Wear the focus stayed firmly on smartwatches. We can only surmise that Google doesn’t feel Glass is ready for primetime just yet.

No talk of Google+

When Vic Gundotra left back in April, his departure caused a few ripples because he was the “father of Google+”. What would it mean for the platform? The ghost town criticism of Google’s social network doesn’t ring true, but it’s not going to be replacing Facebook anytime soon. Will Google scale back the integration and dial down its profile? Are we going to see more emphasis on Hangouts? Where are we going with this, Google?

Where are our modular phones with Project Ara?

Project Ara circuit

There was an ATAP session on Project Ara at I/O, but it only served to remind us how impatient we are. When you hear about an idea like a modular phone and see some concepts, quickly followed up by a working prototype, part of you expects it to be on sale by Christmas. It’s time to lock that part of you in the basement and tell it to shut up. Ara obviously isn’t a priority and there’s no telling when/if we’ll see the kind of breakthrough required to catapult it back into the frame.

It takes two to tango

Did someone say computer vision? 3D sensors? Augmented reality? Project Tango gets us all hot and bothered, but where is it? Developers got the kit back in February, we just need some hardware to support all the new goodies they’ve been working on, and that requires an OEM partner. We didn’t get a sniff of it in the I/O keynote, but an ATAP session revealed that LG will make the first Tango tablet and it should land in early 2015.

Where’s the Moto 360?

moto 360 first look (2 of 12)

There was lots of talk about the Android Wear platform. Surprise, surprise, Samsung is chiming in with the Gear Live which goes on sale now. The LG G Watch is now up for pre-orders. What about the Moto 360? The watch everyone actually wants to buy is going to be available “later”. Aw, c’mon.

Automate my home

We’ve been waiting for Android home automation to take off for a while. The Android@home project seemed to disappear quietly. We assumed that the Nest acquisition would lead to a bright new home automation horizon and it might still, but it seems like Google is keeping it separate. Nest just bought Dropcam and we’re hearing there will be more Nest partnerships soon, but there was no word about it at I/O.

Driverless cars

google self driving car prototype

For a brief moment during the keynote, when talk turned to Android Auto and how they weren’t allowed to drive a car on stage, we hoped to see a driverless car make a shock appearance. Google has been testing driverless cars extensively over the last couple of years and the cute prototype clearly works. We know widespread adoption is probably still years away and there’s plenty to be worked out, but at least driverless cars are now in the foreseeable future.

What else?

We can’t be the only people hoping that Google’s robotics acquisitions will bear some kind of consumer focused fruit in the not too distant? Everyone loves robots. Google’s smart contact lenses are pretty intriguing, so is Project Loon’s mission to bring the Internet to remote areas via balloon, and we know plenty of people who would sign up for Google Fiber in a heartbeat if they got the chance.

We’re also expecting some news about YouTube’s subscription service to surface soon and let’s not forget that the new flavor of Android needs an actual name. We think lollipop is pretty likely, but don’t discount lemon meringue pie.

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