Google did not unveil at Google I/O 2013 any of the rumored hardware or operating system upgrades that various reports said it would. Should you be disappointed?
Just like Sundar Pichai, the head of Chrome and Android, told Wired a few days ago, this wasn’t a Google I/O keynote where you’d see new OS versions alongside new Nexus-branded hardware. Instead, it was focused on users and developers – after all it’s a conference for developers – therefore on new Google apps and services.
The three-hour keynote was packed with announcements worth your attention but it had little talk about hardware. We only saw the Galaxy S4 Google Edition mentioned on stage right next to a bunch of Chromebooks including the high-end Chromebook Pixel that was offered to all Google I/O attendees. In fact, we also saw the Nexus 4 used to demo certain features, but also the iPhone and the iPad when talking about certain apps and/or features.
In case you missed the opening keynote, you can always check our I/O coverage and read more details about all the software novelties Google introduced at this edition.
In short, Google announced new services such as Google Play Games Services, Google Play Music All Access, Android Studio, Google Play for Education and Google Hangouts, and revamped some of its existing web products including the Google Play Store, Google Play Services, Google Plus, Google Maps and (unsurprisingly) Google Search.
So what didn’t make the cut or simply wasn’t supposed to be unveiled at this time – of course, assuming that any of the products we’re going to talk about is actually real? Let’s take a look!
No Android 4.3
Despite having seen it in server logs, and despite Google having revealed it itself, Android 4.3 was not unveiled at Google I/O. In fact, Google did not announce any new Android update, and did not mention any details about any future OS versions.
In case you haven’t been keeping up with recent rumors and you’re asking about Android 5.0 then we’ll tell you that particular version wasn’t unveiled either, but it wasn’t the primary candidate for a Google I/O 2013 announcement anyway, considering all the recent Android 4.3 talk.
No “new Nexus 7”
That “new Nexus 7” one analyst mentioned not long ago looked great on paper, sporting pretty believable specs. Considering that the first-gen Nexus 7 was announced at Google I/O, it made plenty of sense to assume that a second-gen product was in the cards for this year’s Google I/O edition, but that was not the case.
Google did make sort of a big deal about apps for tablets during some of the keynote’s various sections, but it did not unveil a new tablet of its own.
No 32GB Nexus 4 LTE
Another rumor that got more traction in the past few weeks mentioned the slightly upgraded Nexus 4 – a device that would sport 32GB of storage, offer LTE connectivity and would be unveiled at Google I/O 2013.
Considering that the Nexus 4 is only five months old – which may be old in Android years but it’s still a new product – it wouldn’t have made much sense to actually see a Nexus 5 unveiled at the event. But releasing a slightly updated Nexus 4 model may have made some sense, especially if paired with a new Android OS update.
The white Nexus 4 wasn’t acknowledged during the show either.
No X Phone
The other important presence in day-to-day Android rumors is the Motorola-made X Phone that should be an Android device running a stock Android version, almost a Nexus device but without the Nexus branding.
Of course those X Phone rumors aren’t always on the same page, and while some people believed the X Phone could be unveiled on stage at Google I/O 2013, others said the handset would not make it to the show.
No Google smartwatch
It would appear that our sources were wrong, or at least when talking about the Google smartwatch. The rumored device may be unveiled at a later date, but it was a no-show at Google I/O 2013.
In fact, while we’re talking about wearable computing, we’ll also add that aside from the Google Glasses worn by a few developers attending the show, there wasn’t anything new Glass-related coming from Google at this time either.
Are you disappointed?
In case you were looking forward to see affordable hardware announced by Google, then you may be somewhat disappointed at this time. There’s nothing new except for that Galaxy S4 “Nexus” that will be launched later in June. And that may not be enough for certain tech fans, mostly because it’s not necessarily affordable.
But it’s not all bad news either. Some of the products mentioned above may be launched at some point later down the road in case they’re real. If they’re fake, well, other Nexus handsets and tablets will appear down the road. Google will almost certainly have new Nexus devices in stores later this year, because sooner or later it will have to update Android OS to a new major version, at which point it will need to have fresh hardware to showcase the new features.
In case you haven’t been really looking forward to mild product refreshes – which is most likely what Android 4.3 and a 32GB Nexus 4 LTE would have offered – then you don’t have any reason to be angry with Google. The company focused on software just like it said it would, and delivered on that promise, revealing some interesting products and/or product updates during the show.
Maybe products such as Android 4.3 or the rumored 32GB Nexus 4 LTE and second-gen Nexus 7 aren’t worthy of being the center of attention of an event like Google I/O. Let’s not forget that in late October 2012, Google had to cancel its special media event due to a certain hurricane that hit New York City. The company went on to unveil Android 4.2.2, the Nexus 4, the new Nexus 7 versions and the Nexus 10 tablets via simple press releases. Maybe the same thing will happen with upcoming Android OS versions that aren’t major releases and with some Nexus products that will only offer slightly better specs than their predecessors (in case such products will be made).
Like I said before, a new Android version will eventually arrive, and Google will surely bundle it with new hardware that will most likely match the 2013 standards for high-end tablets and smartphones. After all, Google is not done getting people online, and it will certainly continue to come up with new mobile updates in the future.
In the meantime, Jelly Bean will be available on more and more devices, which may be something Google is interested in. Maybe the company is intentionally delaying Android 4.3 and/or Android 5.0 in order to have more OEMs upgrade existing devices to Jelly Bean. Maybe the company wants to make sure more and more devices run its latest Android versions before a new one comes along, which is something that would help developers too, not that we’re going to talk about OS fragmentation again. And maybe the company wants those users that are still running pre-Ice Cream Sandwich Android versions to have an enjoyable Android experience without having to buy new hardware (which may be unaffordable to some people) or install custom Android ROMs (which may be too difficult for inexperienced users).
What’s certain is that Google is surely taking care of its moneymakers, which are its search- and ad-based web services that bring in lots of cash each quarter, with plenty of that cash coming from mobile devices. Now, the better those services, the better the overall experience for consumers that don’t have the latest and greatest hardware and/or Android software and the more money Google eventually makes.
Moreover – in case you missed the keynote and did not see Google’s references about the other billions of people that aren’t yet connected to the web, with most of them residing in emerging markets – maybe Google wants to make sure core products like Search, Maps or Google+ are ready to offer an even better experience across platforms, one that wouldn’t be dependent on running the latest Android version or packing the latest hardware Nexus-branded or not.
What’s clear is that events like Google I/O are always surrounded by a lot of buzz, with tech enthusiasts and blogs always having high expectations from companies like Google, so nobody will be entirely happy about the products unveiled during such an event.
But let’s hear it from you, Android fans! Are you disappointed with Google I/O 2013 or not?