What was missing from Google I/O?

by: Simon HillJune 27, 2014

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


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 [email protected] 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.

  • Marcellus1

    I was really hoping to hear about Google Voice integration into Hangouts. Did anyone ever even mention Hangouts at I/O?

    • Yeppers.

      This tops everything listed in the article for “What was missing”.

      • Agreed. They discontinued all other services from using Voice but didn’t integrate into Hangouts…

  • simone

    Where are the camera enhancements ??

    • bozzykid

      They are in the “L” preview already.

      • simone

        Really?? Very cool. Could you link me some related news ?

  • MasterMuffin

    “…how they weren’t allowed to drive a car on stage, we hoped to see a driverless car make a shock appearance” because then it would be allowed xD

    I’d have loved to see more about Project Ara!

  • WantNewNexus

    NEXUS 6!!!

  • John-Phillip Saayman

    Missed the version number and name of L

  • Will S.

    One of the best things about this years I/O for me is that they hardly mentioned Google+.

  • wat

    Missed hardware, wanted to see Android laptops.

    • Console OS did that already. ;)
      But seriously, I was more hoping to hear Google make some commitments on what was in AOSP, and what wasn’t. Android Wear, Android Auto, Android TV, stuff like that bears the Android name – but despite Android Wear and Android Auto existing for awhile now… Google has yet to commit to what (if any of it) will be committed to AOSP, or will remain closed source.

      • wat

        I’m backing console OS too and they’re not going to be on laptops and PCs at launch, only specific Windows slates :( I wanted to see Android developed as a laptop and desktop OS by changing the UI just like with Android TV. At least the Android apps in Chromebooks is a step toward the eventual merge.

        • So, to be clear, Console OS will be on many laptops at launch. Desktops and AIO’s are sparse at the moment, that’s something being worked on. PC Tablets and 2-in-1’s are a plurality, but there are already several Windows laptops supported. That’s going to change as funding improves… it’s not a tough challenge for Console OS to add support for additional laptops, it just costs money and resources to do.

          • wat

            The only laptops supported thus far mentioned in the kickstarter are a couple of gaming specific machines which are rare as shit anyway.

          • A lot of the mainstream laptops are 2-in-1’s, granted, but ThinkPad X1, U430p, Yoga 2 and VAIO Pro are hardly gaming machines. Really it boils down to how much demand there is and how much funding is raised. I don’t think there’s any post-2011 Core laptop that cannot be supported with a bit of additional work.

            Part of the challenge is the $50,000 threshold. If you only raise that amount, you have to keep the support small until you get traction, downloads, and users to go for more funding and build revenue-generating services.

  • Bootleg Zani

    I also think it will be called Lemon Meringue Pie.

  • droidtomtom

    Any word from you early adopters of Android ‘L’ if the layout of ‘Config Settings’ has been improved? I was hoping to see some improvement to the organization of that. I know some vendors have improved it a little for their versions of Android but I would like to see it more standardized, with improved organization.

  • Bilal Mahmood

    Nexus 6…

  • Wesley

    Tim Cook

  • Cal Rankin

    Since the statement has been released that the Nexus line isn’t going away anytime soon, I wonder if Google is just going to release all of their Nexus devices in the fall. Releasing a phone and 1 to 3 tablets in October or November would certainly be a nice little event. And that leaves I/O to focus on all the Googly things.

  • Ian

    I am disappointed. Come on Google, what happened to your widely announced products: [email protected], Nexus Q, Google+, Google TV?

  • Yaritza Miranda

    I missed free Led Lampen