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What to expect from Google I/O 2014

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Google’s big developer conference is right around the corner, and the company has a lot of goodies to shove into a two-hour window. Here’s what we think will go down.

Google’s annual developer conference has gone from having two different keynotes to one large keynote over the last couple of years, and now it has been reduced again to a single two-hour keynote stuffed with all things Android and Chrome. With rumors about a new version of Android, the recent acquisitions of Nest and Dropcam, and tiny self driving car prototypes floating around, it’s easy to get overly optimistic about what is actually going to happen at Google I/O.

Chromecast

Google has historically split its I/O conference between Chrome and Android as evenly as possible, but there’s no rule that says this has to happen. Now that Sundar Pichai is the big-man-in-charge, there’s no reason the presentation shouldn’t be split down the middle. Google will dedicate some time to showing off adoption rates for Android and Chrome, as well as briefly recapping some of the more recent updates to both platforms. What everyone really wants to see is some kind of merger here, but what is more likely is that Chrome OS and Chromecast will gain some much needed updates that pave the way for greater Android integration.

Spotify Music Player Moto 360

Android will be the more exciting of the two halves most likely, but not because of a new version of Android. Google’s wearable platform is going to take center stage, and what few details haven’t already been confirmed regarding Android Wear will come forward. Google will show off the apps that have been put together as collaborative demonstrations with third party developers, and it will be made clear that adding Wear support to your existing app will be incredibly simple. We’ll see the LG G Watch, the Moto 360, and commitments from at least two other hardware manufacturers on stage.

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We’ve seen leaks surrounding Google’s next attempt at a full set top box platform, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Google I/O is where that platform will be officially announced. Android TV needs to incorporate the ease of use we’ve come to expect from Chromecast, while offering the higher quality streaming and access to apps and games we’ve come to expect from the Amazon Fire TV. If this is announced with a reasonable price tag, it will be a powerful accessory in Google’s attempt to control the living room.

Several sources have reported the existence of Android Silver, a program that is expected to replace the Nexus and Google Play Experience lines. The idea is that these devices will be offered by multiple manufacturers, sold by carriers, and offer the Google Experience to a wider group of users. This is a tough rumor to buy due to the consistent update struggle that is often encountered with mobile carriers all over the world, but if Google announces partnerships that make this problem disappear it could be a huge deal for Android fans who are interested in sticking with the current carrier financed setup.

Project Tango

There’s also fringe devices that Google will hopefully take time to address on stage this year. Google’s ATAP lab had been hard at work on Project ARA and Project Tango, and while ARA has its own conferences now there’s still plenty about these experiences that deserve some spotlight. Google Glass is on this list as well, especially with the Android Wear program taking off at I/O this year. Google will most likely dedicate some time to these projects to update everyone and offer some direction for each of these platforms, but it is unlikely that any of them will take any significant time away from the larger topics for this year.

Google is going to do the same thing it does every year: delight and impress us with shiny new things to throw our money at. We’ll be talking about the things Google unveils and places greater focus on for weeks after, and that’s what makes this event such a huge deal for consumers and developers alike. The show starts Wednesday at 12pm (Eastern) and will be streamed live for the world to enjoy, and we’ll be right there with you to soak it all up.



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