Exploring the themes of ‘design, develop and distribute’, this year’s edition of Google I/O 2014, Google’s annual technology conference, promises to be replete with new product ideas and interactive experiences. Since its last I/O 2013, the digital juggernaut has acquired almost 25 cutting edge technology companies. One can hence expect interesting updates as part of Google’s roadmap for developers and consumers alike. Here are five predictions on what’s possibly coming up at Google I/O 2014 and where Google will focus its efforts next.
#1 Android 5.0 – LolliPop
With 2014 ushering Apple’s iOS 8 and Windows’ 8.1 updates, Google is expected to announce the next iteration of Android, nine months after KitKat 4.4 was announced. Keeping in line with Google’s tradition of naming their Android versions in alphabetical order and after desserts; the anticipated ‘L-themed’ name for the upcoming Android update is rumoured to be ‘LolliPop’. Google is working on bringing some UI changes to Android in this release, and it looks like design will take centre stage this year, with 11 sessions at Google I/O dedicated to multi-screen/unification, interface and functionality. In line with past precedents, LolliPop is expected to debut initially on the next Nexus with the Google Edition and Nexus devices receiving it soon after.
#2 Google Now – more intuitive, more accessible
Taking the battle with Apple’s Siri & Microsoft’s Cortana one step further, Google’s digital personal assistant, Google Now has been working towards bettering its abilities. By offering deeper integration with the Android OS, it will allow users to control different apps including possibly third-party apps with voice commands. While Google Now features were previously more focused on US content, it is becoming more globalised with international topics getting supported such as sports like cricket.
#3 Empowering developers in a cloud first world
Google believes that the best Android applications take full advantage of the cloud to provide a greater user experience across a variety of platforms. This I/O, it plans to make it easier to build cloud applications quickly and provide deeper insight on how to get the best performance out of cloud resources. One can also expect some interesting highlights on data processing, modelling and interactive analysis processes. What’s more, Google just announced it is integrating its compute engine with Docker to provide a low cost and predictable cloud solution.
#4 United we Hangout
Last Google I/O conference, Google released Hangouts with the aim of changing our messaging experience by unifying pre-existing messaging services including SMS. Following this trend, Google aims to enable VoIP calls using a Google Voice number and unify all its other services (Talk, Hangout, Voice, Video, Messenger and Chat on Google+).
#5 Extending Android to wearables
Google launched its Android wear software a few months ago as a key to the multiscreen world; aiming to provide users with small, powerful wearable devices that intelligently answer spoken questions and help with everyday tasks. Google is expected to introduce this interface though smart watches but we don’t foresee an official Google watch being announced just yet. However, the event is going to see the launch of the Android Wear SDKs enabling customised wearable experiences for existing Android apps. On the sidelines, we do expect Motorola’s fashionable Moto 360 and the square LG G watch to make their first on-stage appearance. These smart watches will differ from others like the Samsung Gear and Pebble with its intelligent software and Google Now alerts that will deliver relevant information to your wrist before you perform an action.