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Google I/O, the biggest yearly event in the Googleverse is about to kick off in a few days. Google I/O is always special, but this year we have a lot to look forward to, from the launch of the first Android Wear devices, to sweeping changes to Google’s design guidelines, an Android TV reveal, a greater fitness push, Auto Link (Android in the car), and more. And then there’s the stuff we can’t predict and the stuff we’d love to see, like new Nexus hardware and a significant Android update.

In this edition of the Friday Debate, tell us, what makes you excited about Google I/O? What are the big news you expect to see, and what’s the stuff you hope that Google will unveil? What did you like about Google I/O 2013, and hope to see again this year?

Join us in the discussion, vote in our poll, and sound off in the comments.

Jonathan Feist

It is Google I/O 2014 predictions time. A time for us to make wild claims, based on even wilder rumors. I would like to start off, as the conference will, with the numbers.

The Google Play Store is up to, what, 1.3 million apps, that’ll make a nice graphic. Even better is the fact that a good number of individual apps reached the one billion downloads threshold this year, nice work.

Google has been aggressive lately, so we may see reference to the global domination of Android. Holding, in the neighborhood of, 80% global market is something they can boast, I think. We are sure to see the typical numbers with x number of millions of new devices every day and so forth.

Of the numbers, I am interested to see if they address fragmentation. Now, I do not believe Android fragmentation is an issue right now, it is present and can be annoying, but not really an issue. With all of the stuff that Google has offloaded into standalone apps, that we can grab from the Play Store, there is room for Google to at least mention what they’ve done and what they may do next to combat bypass slow to update carriers and manufacturers.

The topic of fragmentation leads to the topic of the next Android version. Truth is, I expect Google to talk about what they have on the go, but I do not expect we’ll find out what “L” stands for, not yet. We do know that there should be big talk about ART vs the now deprecated Dalvik, I expect to see some performance examples and tools to help devs update their apps. Do you think Google will announce that they’ve made ART fully backward support Dalvik apps, so that devs do not need to update?

Despite maintaining the KitKat versioning, I think we will see a major design and aesthetic change in nearly all Google Properties. We talked about Project Hera and Quantum Paper before, well, code names aside, I believe a new look is upon us.

With no rumor to support this, I think Google may introduce a new gaming-type platform. With the move to ART, having Android and Chrome OS under the same roof for so long, the call for designers and the continual Chrome experiments that keep us entertained, Google may just surprise us with an ART or HTML5 etc graphics engine. The platform could be put to use for gaming, or simply an interesting UI experience. I am thinking of the holographic 3D environment computing depicted in Iron Man or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but without the holograms. This may pull in Project Tango, if you see where I’m going with this?

Back to reality, I think we will learn the future of the Nexus program and this Silver everyone is going on about. I really do not know where to stand on this one, but I do not believe that it will be one or the other. Android Silver is an absolutely smart move, to enhance and/or replace the GPE devices, not the Nexus devices.

I am not sure that the Nexus line will survive, but I do not think Silver will be the death of it, I simply think that Google needs to not be a hardware vendor right now. It just is not needed. I will sorely miss Nexus devices if they go away, but other phones, especially in the GPE line, are enough to provide the developer tools that I believe Nexus stands for. Dish off the user experience that Nexus stands for to the Silver project, and Nexus is just another great phone.

Android Wear, yes that’ll be a major factor at Google I/O, but I do not expect any surprises. Watches, Glass, brain implants, it’ll all be there. Don’t get me wrong, Android Wear is my front runner for story-maker of the year, I just do not expect anything outlandish (like brain implants) or any new wearable form factors of consequence to grace the show.

The same goes for Android TV. I expect we’ll see Android TV at I/O, but, no offense, as a cord cutter, Android TV best have something amazing up its sleeve if the other set-top boxes, including the Chromecast, are to be rendered moot. I’ll just wait and see on this one.

Stepping away from Android, there have been some great additions to the Chrome OS Beta stream lately. Nothing earth shattering, but I am hoping the updates will lead to something big at I/O. It’s at least time for a new Pixel, right?

Last, but not least, Google+. Look, Android didn’t die when Hugo went to Xiaomi, G+ won’t die with Vik finding a new role in life either. Google+ needs new life pumped into it, most users love it, but most non-users don’t see the point. I do not know what, but I have a hunch we’ll see something new for G+ at I/O that could help make it a little bit more popular.

I know I played it safe here, what can I say, Google is doing fun and crazy self driving cars and such without the need of a conference, there is no need to jump out of a blimp for this one. Now, we are in the business of sharing with you what we know, which means that your guess is as good as mine. How about it then – do you think I got it right?

Robert Triggs

I’m pretty sure that we are going to see lots of focus on Android Wear and the plans for a more unified interface, as these are two of the only topics that we’ve actually heard much about so far. With the event focus seemingly leaning heavily on developers, this makes a lot of sense too, as Google will want to explain its new design and platform.

I’m very keen to see what Google actually has planned for Android Wear, and whether it’s going to go above and beyond what we’ve seen from wearable devices so far. If we are going to see any new Android software announcements, which I’m a little more sceptical about, I suspect that it will also have a lot to do with Android Wear and how Google plans to make it play nice with other Android devices.

I’m not really very keen on the look or prospects of Quantum Paper or Project Hera, and I can’t say that I’ve fallen in love with the redesigned G+ interface either. It’s all a little too cartoonish for me, and is sure to wind up developers who put the effort in to complying with Google’s Halo redesign last year.

I’m sure Google will also make the time to talk about some of its other side projects, like its self-driving car and high-speed internet plans, and an update on Google Glass is probably due also.

I might end up eating my words for saying this, but I don’t think that we’re going to hear a lot about Android Silver or Nexus. With the first Silver handsets still expected to be eight or more months away, I wonder if Google can really talk about the end of the Nexus line without upsetting the fans, and it’s probably too far away to show off the benefits of any would be replacement. Instead, I think Google will keep relatively quiet on this front, as it has a lot of other stuff to show off. Unless of course, they have a new Nexus device in the works to hold us over until Android Silver. That would be a nice surprise.

Andrew Grush

I believe we’re in for a fun ride this year when it comes to the evolution of Android, and Google I/O will certainly set the tone for the rest of 2014 and beyond. One of the biggest questions on my mind is what’s going on with the Nexus program and I’d love to hear more news about this at I/O.

Unfortunately, I think it’s pretty likely we’ll not only be without a new Nexus tablet at I/O, they’ll probably skirt the topic of Nexus and Android Silver completely. That said, if Android 5.0 (or 4.5?) is revealed without a new Nexus device, we’ll probably have our answer about the Nexus’ future. I’m still uncertain whether or not I/O will be the launching ground for the next major version of Android, but if not then, I’d still say we could end up seeing it later this summer.

As for what Google is more likely to focus on at I/O 2014? Obviously Android Wear will be a big focus, and I expect everyone to receive a free LG G Watch. Google will also likely show off a few other watches from its partners. Like Triggs mentions, its also possible that IF a new version of Android is revealed, its announcement will center around Android Wear integration and support.

We can also bet that Google will have a few other fun side-projects to show us including self-driving cars, an update on Google Glass and the list goes on.

Bogdan Petrovan

I think this Google I/O will be even more exciting than last year, and last year I remember I was genuinely psyched for Google and the future.

Let’s see, I am probably most excited about Android Wear. I think the concept can take off and really extend what we can do with our smartphones, in a way that wouldn’t be possible without new hardware. From the way notifications look and work, to totally new functionality like proximity-based security, smartwatches will extend Android in a way that, I think, will make it even more compelling. Besides the G Watch and Moto 360, I hope to see more devices from other partners, like Asus, HTC, and Samsung.

I don’t think we’ll see any Nexus devices. Last year, Google announced the Nexus 7 a couple a months after I/O, and I think this year will be the same. It’s not like Google would need a Nexus device as a highlight of the keynote, with all the new stuff going on.

A new version of Android is possible, in my opinion, or at least a preview of sorts. All the new stuff rumored (cross-platform redesign, device-wide voice integration, kill switch, move to ART) is the smoke on which I base my presumption. Hopefully, I am not horribly wrong.

I look forward to all the new stuff that Google will release to Play Services, which is almost as important as the updates to the OS itself. Google Play Fitness is new, but there’ll probably be updates across the board.

Finally, as the consummate technology fan that I am, I look forward to just watching the keynote, oohing and wowing at all the announcements, and, hopefully, getting to see Larry Page do an impromptu Q&A session again.

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