Stephen and I are off to Google I/O 2015 this week (the first time we’ve sent 2 people – for double the coverage!) but we wanted to preview what we we’re excited about this week. I’d run through the list of expectations but Chance already made 90% of the list when the sessions were launched. Go check it out. Here’s what I’ve been hearing…
Obviously Android M(arshmallow?), Wear updates including the next Moto 360 are at the top of the list. I’ve been hearing whispers that the new 360 is smaller, uses more modern/efficient SoC and a better OLED display. I’m praying to the robot dog overlords at Google that they have these as developer demo units (read: presents) at I/O. Use on iOS as has been found in code would also be nice for us who use both platforms. I’ve heard Samsung might have something round for us to feast on soon, and who knows, maybe we’ll see a $1,400 Tag Heuer Watch somehow with Intel Inside.
I’m not sure how separate Nest and Tony Fadell are from Google and to what degree Nest will be a part of I/O. We know Fadell is hard at work on round two of Google Glass, but not sure if there will be any updates on the wearable display computer. Probably too soon. As for Nest, I’ve heard they are working on home security in a big way with smaller projects that include smart circuit breakers and lawn watering systems. No idea if these are going to be announced or if Nest will even have a presence.
Chromecast’s popularity will be on display, and rumors saying a more gaming friendly two-screen product will be announced, putting the original Chromecast near the “free” threshold. Assuming there will be a “Chromecast 2,” it would also be nice to see 4K support as well as home hub support like Apple is planning to do with Apple TV next month. It also wouldn’t surprise me to see some big streaming partners to help the world cut that cable pipe (but leave that Internet pipe!).
Chrome Browser and Chrome OS haven’t been quiet, but updates seem to roll out just-in-time style rather than waiting for an event. I’d be surprised if Google didn’t take at least some time to highlight the growth of the platform.
Obviously, Android is usually the centerpiece of I/O, and everyone is expecting Android M (Marshmallow?) to take center stage. On Android M alone, we’re expecting to see a number of developments: of course continual refinement of the features that Google introduced with Android Lollipop, but most recently we’re hearing that Google is working hard on making battery life and RAM management much better under the newest version. Just as Apple is expected to take this year light on features, Android M looks like it might be Google’s “Snow Leopard” year.
Likely to be grouped in with the set of Android M announcements that Google has for us is the separation of the company’s Photos services from Google+. Sundar Pichai recently said in a Forbes interview that the company has been at work branching Google+ into three different products — Hangouts, photos, and the Google+ stream — and this big change seems likely to be very front-facing on stage at I/O. Just this past weekend, several photos of the upcoming Photos app for Android leaked out.
Years past at I/O have proven ATAP’s session to be one of the more exciting (besides the keynote, of course). As we found out earlier this year, Google’s ATAP group is ready to introduce the Project Ara modular smartphone to the world later this year, starting in Puerto Rico; we’ll likely get some updates on this Friday morning. Also, the group’s session description mentions that they plan to “blow [our] socks off,” then goes on to say that they “mean this more literally than [we] might think.”
Additionally, Google is also expected to make a bigger deal out of Cardboard this year. The company’s virtual reality platform that was kickstarted at last year’s I/O has matured greatly since its unveiling, and Google Principal Designer Jon Wiley recently moved over to work on the VR team from Search. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that “a version of the Android operating system” is in the works “to power virtual-reality applications.” Maybe we’ll see this at I/O?
It’s hard to get our collective heads around all of the possibilities, so we’ll all just have to watch what happens. Stay tuned for Google I/O 2015 coverage on 9to5Google.com starting tomorrow.