Google I/O 2014 is coming up on us soon (June 25th/26th) and as usual the Internet is stirring with rumors and expectations of what may come out of it. I/O has been unpredictable in the past few years, with each edition focused on different things, but the 2014 edition has so much ground to cover that it’s hard to focus on a single thing. So, let’s go through all of our expectations and known rumors for the 2014 edition and see what comes out of it!
Android 4.5/Android 5
Google has made it a tradition to announce new editions of Android at I/O, however last year’s KitKat update happened much later, with I/O having a focus on Google Services and developers instead. This year, people are looking forward to a new version of Android that may finally contain all the features that have been leaked and teased so far, which include a totally redesigned UI and better integration of services. Of course, there’s a high likelihood that this won’t show up in time for I/O, since a minor update has been in the works for KitKat and yet still hasn’t been released. If the new version of Android doesn’t show up in time for I/O, you can probably expect it for a September/October announcement instead, just like KitKat.
Google has already formally announced Android Wear, an edition of Android focused on wearables and companion devices, and so it makes total sense to finally get some specifics and demos at I/O. Expect full disclosure of the UI and APIs for developers to finally get around to fully embracing the new OS, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some related product announcements, including the yet unannounced LG smartwatch and the Moto 360.
Glass is a weird product for Google that really hasn’t been getting the same treatment as everything else. Sold at an extremely high price and only available to a few people for testing purposes, it really isn’t treated or considered a consumer device yet, just a weird prototype. Well, that might all change in time if Google marries Glass with Android Wear, or if a consumer version is finally announced with an appropriate price. A focus on brand new Glass apps and services might also be present at the event if Google decides to keep Android Wear and Glass separate.
New Nexus Tablet
With the Nexus 7 going forward at full steam and being embraced by costumers as one of the better tablet devices on the Android platform, people almost forget that a Nexus 10 exists as well. Very much in need of a refresh, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a new edition of the Nexus 10 with a bump in specs. Alternatively, there have been rumblings of a Nexus 8 for a very long time, and if Google decides to abandon the 10″ display factor, they might choose to embrace an 8″ tablet format instead (maybe with a different aspect ratio and everything!). Or alternatively, they could keep the Nexus 10 line alive and also release the Nexus 8 alongside it, who knows? Either way, a refresh on the tablet market is expected and the market is open enough to support all these different form factors.
Nexus/GPE Program Rebranding
Although we have mentioned Nexus devices a lot, another recurrent rumor is that Google is looking to drop the Nexus branding and replacing it with something else. A new name, “Silver” keeps popping up, but no one knows if that will be the new name or what it means for existing devices. The fact is that Google-sponsored devices will probably keep existing, just with some differences in name and possibly available OS services. This may also affect Google Play Edition devices, and Silver may end up being a more accessible and easy to understand name for consumers with no deep or meaningful changes, or a complete revamp of the program. We don’t know yet.
Project Ara/Modular Phones
Project Ara has apparently been a straight success so far, with live demos and a lot of details pouring in on how it actually works and how the final design should be. While it is maturing fast, it probably is still too early to reach a marketable state, however I would fully expect to see some more news and demonstrations of the upcoming devices and software at I/O this year. Project Ara kind of seems like a device of the future, and a solid, well-defined platform at this stage would certainly be a win for Google.
So, these are our expectations for Google I/O 2014. Some of them may just be wild rumors and speculation at this point, but certainly a lot of them might have a basis on reality. Some of it is to be expected for the future, others are more radical changes, but it all falls in line with what Google tends to do at the event. I can’t wait to see what comes out of it and, as always, anything new with Android will always catch our eye and we’ll be sure to report on it when the time comes. Do you have anything in particular that you would like to see at I/O? Let us know in the comment section below!