Although it’s months away, rumors are already cropping up left and right about 2014s Google I/O.
Ever since Google made a big splash in 2012 by kicking off their annual I/O developers conference with a Google Glass announcement that included skydiving and various other extreme sports, rumors start to buzz months in advance regarding what new software, hardware, or other initiatives will emerge during the next meeting of the Googlers.
The Google I/O 2014 dates were dropped recently in a Google+ post by Sundar Pichai, Google’s Senior Vice President of Android, Chrome, and Apps.
It’s too early to know for sure what to expect, but there are several rumors already, as well as some safe assumptions as to what we will be seeing at this year’s Google I/O. In the past, I/O has been used as a platform to announce new editions of Android, but that hasn’t been the case for the last few iterations, so it’s not a given that we will receive a new version of Android at Google I/O this year either, but last year we did get the announcement of the spin-off of Google Play Services, so just because there’s no Android 4.5/5.0 version released doesn’t mean we won’t be seeing any Android improvements announced.
One such rumored improvement is Google Babble. Google Babble would be the unification of all Google’s messaging services, specifically Google Hangouts and Google Voice, bringing all messaging services under one roof for Google, not too different from Apple’s iMessage, although it would play a much more significant role in Google’s ecosystem.
Google’s first Nexus 7 tablet was announced at Google I/O 2012, but I/O 2013 skipped the announcement of a new tablet and instead launched it a few weeks later in July, so, while we won’t necessarily see this unveiled at the conference, it may not be trailing far behind.
We likely won’t see a new Nexus phone this year, since it’ll be around 8 months since the release of the Nexus 5 and Google typically releases Nexus phones in the fall. The Nexus 7 and 10 are both due for a refresh, though, and rumors of the inclusion (or substitution) of a Nexus 8 are persistent.
While Google has traditionally gone with a 7” tablet, most major competitors, such as Samsung and Apple, have tablets closer to 8”. Google isn’t the type to launch two products that are so similar, so if there is a Nexus 8, it will likely be at the exclusion of a new Nexus 7; however, the Nexus 7 has proven to be so popular that Google may not feel the need to add an 8” tablet to combat Apple and Samsung’s lineups.
The original Nexus 10 was launched in the fall of 2012 and hasn’t had a replacement issued yet, so it is high time for a new one. There were quite a few rumors surrounding Google launching the device at Mobile World Congress, but that didn’t end up happening, leaving many to wonder if it will happen during Google I/O
Some rumor state that HTC will be the hardware partner for the Nexus 10, which would be interesting, given HTC’s Boomsound is such a significant part of their current hardware, and the original Nexus 10 was one of the only other devices to sport stereo speakers on the front like the HTC One lineup does.
One big change last year was the inclusion of Google Play Edition devices. The Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition was announced at I/O and the HTC One GPE followed shortly after the conference. With the Galaxy S5, the All New HTC One, and new devices from LG and Sony, we may see more announcements on this front as well.
The other long rumored device we could see is a Google smartwatch. Many rumors suggesting this have emerged, some saying that LG will again be Google’s hardware partner for this initiative; however, there was a smartwatch project at Motorola Mobility dubbed “The Google Watch” by some Motorola employees, so don’t be surprised to see a Motorola watch. This device could also be an in-house Google device if they kept it in the advanced research division of Motorola, which is one of the few things Google is holding on to in the Lenovo acquisition.
Much of what happens at Google I/O is not headline making news, though, as the conference is targeted primarily at developers. There are always lots of small bits of news, such as design standards, and the release of additional APIs, or SDKs that go into enabling developers to improve Google devices and services. We are likely to see improvements to Google Play Services, Chromecast, and Chromebooks come through the conference as well, but most of those details probably won’t draw as much attention.
We still have months before Google I/O, so anything can happen by then. Be sure to keep an eye out as we are bound to have many more Googley leaks and rumors for you to read about before the end of June rolls around.