At this year’s Google IO we expect lots of exciting announcements, many of which involve new hardware. Also, for the first time in 10 years, the event will be in Mountain View at the Shoreline Amphitheater. This outdoor venue should provide plenty of space for drones, large-scale VR demonstrations, and a concert.
Here are our predictions for the top 5 announcements:
Android VR Platform
Rumors are swirling about a new Google VR headset (not Google Cardboard but an actual hardware device). This means we should expect to see software support in Android for high-resolution video, as well as low latency sensors and displays. We also expect an expanded VR section of Google Play to highlight Android VR apps. The headset puts Google in direct competition with Facebook via Oculus Rift and Valve/HTC’s Vive headset. A Google Play VR section would compete with the Oculus Share and SteamVR stores.
New Nest Product
Nest has yet to release an internally developed product since joining Google over two years ago. Shortly after the acquisition by Google, Nest acquired Dropcam and rebranded the camera, the closest they’ve gotten to a new release. A good guess would be something in the smart home/security space. At last year’s Google IO, Google announced Brillo (an IOT operating system spec) and Weave (a protocol for IOT devices to communicate). They’ve since released the OnHub router built on the Brillo IOT platform, which supports the Weave protocol. A Nest-compatible device, such as a smart-lock, doorbell camera, or security sensors would fit nicely into the existing Nest device family (although this would risk putting off partners who work with Nest today).
Amazon Echo Competitor (“Chirp”)
The current rumor mill has it that the name of Google’s answer to Amazon Echo is “Chirp.” Google has already invested extensively into voice-enabled technologies, like the familiar “OK Google” prompt (for iOS users out there, this is just like Siri), as well as language translation technology and a voice API for Android.
Given Google’s strength in search relative to Amazon and their investments in deep learning, they have the potential to muffle the Echo.
The past three Android releases—KitKat, Lollipop, and Marshmallow—all took place in the fall (October/November). We expect Google to do the same for Android N. Our current best guess for what “N” stands for: Nerds™! Other possibilities include Nutella and Nougat.
The first developer preview was released March 9, 2016. There are many new features in Android’s latest operating system. Here are a few that we already know about:
- The “Vulkan API”: a new high-performance cross-platform graphics API
- Revamped settings menu
- Direct reply notifications available to 3rd party apps
- Expansion of Doze mode to lengthen battery life on idle phones
- Multi-tasking support/side-by-side windows built into the OS
- Bundling notifications from the same app to reduce noise
Google has hinted at pressure-sensitive screens with launcher shortcuts. Sources now say this will not be a part of the initial Android N release but instead as a follow-up update.
Android <-> ChromeOS Merger
I’ve predicted this in the past; the writing has been on the wall for quite some time, especially as Google invested in tech to allow Android apps to run on Chromebooks. With the announcement that the Pixel C, Google’s latest Chromebook, fully runs Android, that should be the final nail in the coffin for a separate ChromeOS. The work will not go to waste as I expect the technology to be folded into Android. So far Chromebooks have been very successful in educational environments and the launch of multitasking support on Android N should provide Chromebooks a much-needed boost for the enterprise.
Wishful thinking for Google Moonshots:
- Android Auto widespread availability
- Project Fi wider device availability (Nexus only right now)
- Android Wear partnering with more Swiss watch manufacturers
- Google Glass repurposed for Enterprise / Medicine
- Self driving car launches
- Project Jacquard Launch date , more smart clothes!
- Drone delivery “Project Wing” officially starts
Regardless of what get’s announced, Google IO is always a great conference and highly informative. I’ll see you there!