GOOGLE I/O: What to expect
Google's annual conference runs at the end of May. What will the Android maker bring to the table in 2015?
Google I/O will be held at Moscone West Convention Center in San Francisco from 28- to 29 May. We take a look at what to expect from Google in 2015 including Android M, Google Glass 2.0, Project Ara and more.
One of the most obvious things to expect this year from Google is a new version of Android. Following the alphabetical list of sweet deserts, this version will begin with the letter M (place your bets for the name now). Don't be expecting a big new version, though:
Android M is likely to be 5.1 and bring along new features and tweaks. After all, 5.0 Lollipop was the big overhaul with the Material Design.
As to when Android M will arrive is unclear, but it's likely to be during the summer and in the second half of the year. The first time we're likely to hear about it from Google is at Google I/O.
Google Glass 2.0
Whether or not you think Google Glass is a passing fad, we could well see a new version this year. Google closed the Explorer Program on 19 January
so you can no longer purchase the Explorer Edition, but that's not the end of the wearable gadget. Google has confirmed that it is "continuing to build for the future, and you’ll start to see future versions of Glass when they’re ready". According to the Wall Street Journal, we'll see a new version this year that will use an Intel chip. And at Google I/O we could get some more details.
Google Glass was first introduced at Google I/O, so this year's conference seems like the perfect time and place to unveil the new version – even if it is in a prototype stage of development.
A grey area is Android Silver, which is Google's supposed scheme for creating Android devices under a set of requirements, a bit like Ultrabooks. This would mean any manufacturing partner to make a smartphone or tablet within the rules would get the Android Silver branding. Google has not confirmed plans for this and recent reports claim it's been scrapped due to a lack of interest from partners.
It's also unclear whether Android Silver will replace the Nexus range of devices. That Google will
continue with Nexus is more likely, and as we'll see on page 9 we're expecting to see at least one new Nexus phone (and likely a tablet or phablet) this year.
One thing we can definitely expect for 2015 is Project Ara, Google's modular smartphone concept. It will allow you to upgrade individual parts of the phone such as the camera or processor in a plug-and-play fashion. There is some competition in this area, but eyes are on Google to lead the way.
"Project Ara is a development effort, not an official Google product. Consequently, we don’t have a market launch date. However, we’re working toward a limited market pilot in 2015," said Google on its website for the project.
Android TV and Android Auto
Google spent some of its 2014 I/O conference talking about Android TV and Android Auto, versions of the OS for the living room and the car. We expect to see the firm push on with these in 2015 as
Android TV replaces the failed Google TV. Sets from Sony, Sharp and Philips will come with Android TV this year. We expect to see some set-top boxes, too.
It might take a little longer to see Android Auto integration, as this is still a new area for this kind of tech. However, big strides are set to take place in 2015. For example, we saw Parrot announce the RNB6 at CES, which is both Android Auto- and Apple CarPlay ready – it's due to launch later this year.
For a while it seemed as though Google would introduce an update to the Android Wear OS for smartwatches at I/O 2015, but it didn't wait for May and instead got out its update out there around the time of the rival Apple Watch launch. The 'Diamond' update brings various new features, including Wi-Fi support, new gestures and emojis.
That news doesn't mean we won't hear about Android Wear at Google I/O 2015, though. It's likely we'll hear about what the firm plans to do next and we could even see new devices at the conference.
We're hoping Google will launch its own Nexus-branded smartwatch.
Child-friendly products and services
According to a report by USA Today, Google is looking to launch child-friendly versions of its products and services this year. We're talking kids aged 12 and under. This should mean new versions of Chrome and YouTube at least.
"The big motivator inside the company is everyone is having kids, so there's a push to change our products to be fun and safe for children," said Pavni Diwanji, vice president of engineering.