Google, arguably one of the biggest companies in the world, has come a long way from just being a search engine. On par with Apple’s WWDC developer conference, Google will once again host their developers’ conference, Google I/O, starting tomorrow.
Over the last couple of years, the company has moved into several new areas. Apart from being the mastermind of the biggest mobile operating system in the world, Google has explored balloon internet, fixed-line fibre broadband, built a number of mobile devices and made some really cool acquisitions.
The technology world will be squarely focussed on their annual conference for hints of what is to come, but we have sneaked a peek into Google’s secret files and compiled five things that you could expect from I/O.
Google has steadily released a new candy-flavoured operating system every year, and this time it shouldn’t be any different. While we might not get to see a fully-functioning new OS, it is a pretty sure bet that we might get glimpses of what is to come.
There is also a bit of uncertainty if it will be Android 4.5, or a completely new 5.0 version. The name is also a bit of a contentious issue. Google has traditionally gone with confectionery-themed names, but a recent report hinted that Google might drop ‘Lollipop’ in favour of just going with the single letter ‘L’.
In the online schedule for I/O, there is a talk called “What’s new in Android”, and the company gives a number of hints as to what’s to come. “Join us for a thrilling, guided tour of all the latest developments in Android technologies and APIs. We’ll cover everything that’s new and improved in the Android platform since… well, since the last time,” the description reads. It will be hosted by Google engineer Chet Haase, who is a member of the Android UI Toolkit team.
With Google Glass as the company’s most famous and biggest entry into the world of wearable technology, there is sure to be more news on it. But also expected is the release (or at least the announcement) of more wearable products that will incorporate the company’s operating system.
Rumours of rival Apple releasing a smart watch have been swirling for almost a year, so it would actually make sense if Google tried to enter the wrist-worn technology market as well – they certainly have the technology to do so.
During this year’s I/O conference, there are at least two sessions dedicated to wearable technology, with one focussing on design while the other leans more towards wearable computing.
“Wearable computing is here and the way we interact with technology will be completely different. We’ll tie them all together with common design and development practices as well as the Google Platform. This is the key information that’ll get you ready for being part of a sea change of technology that invariably puts the user first,” Google’s staff developer Timothy Jordan explains in the brief.
Google also announced the Android Wear project earlier this year, and released it to developers in its beta form. I/O could showcase the result of these beta trials, while Motorola and LG are expected to show off smartwatches running Android wear this year. We might get to hear more about their offerings, as they were slated for a ‘summer’ release, which is right now in the northern hemisphere.
Speaking of Google Glass, one thing expected from this year’s I/O is news of new apps to go with the somewhat creepy wearable. There are at least three sessions dedicated to Google Glass, with the ‘Innovate with Glass’ session being made available for live streaming.
“The Glass platform has expanded dramatically with the introduction of the GDK (Glass Development Kit) and recent update to KitKat (Android 4.4). This session will provide a deep analysis of the Glass software platform and provide developers with tools, APIs, and sample code to build truly innovative user experiences on Glass,” I/O’s schedule says about the session.
Google’s hugely sought-after Glass has only been made available to a very select few, and this year we might find out when the technology will be distributed to the wider population. Coupled with an expanding Explorer beta program and the release of designer frames, this year could be the year of mass production.
It is quite possible that we could be completely off the mark here, but there is one session from I/O which has a bit of a cryptic heading and description. Under the name ‘A 3D tablet, an OSCAR, and a little cash. Tango, Spotlight, Ara. ATAP’ Google explains that their Project Tango will be making its way into space pretty soon… but what isn’t explained in the brief is what ‘an OSCAR’ is.
At first glance it might just look or sound like a code name, but given Google’s history with operating systems, it could be Operating System Car – meaning a competitor to Apple’s CarPlay. The company has previously hinted that they wanted to start developing apps, gadgets and technology marvels for every car, and we don’t see why they wouldn’t announce it at I/O.
Apple’s version will allow you to control your iPhone is a safer manner, and pushes the thing you want to do with iPhone right into your car’s dashboard. Google might be planning to do the same thing for Android phones, or something else entirely.
Google will also be giving us a little bit more details on ATAP, or their Advanced Technology and Projects group. “A small band of pirates who believe the future is what we choose to make. And that we choose to make what we believe in. We believe the future is awesome. We can build it faster together. ATAP + developers = some epic sh*t.”
While only referencing the project in a session description, we will most definitely be given more information on the new smartphone that will be making its way into space pretty soon. According to Google, the smartphone-like unit will construct a 3D-map of the International Space Station and enable autonomous navigation of a floating robotic platform. The ultimate goal for the project is to create a robotic assistant for astronauts. But that isn’t all – for earthlings the unit will apparently have augmented reality, architecture, retail and gaming tie-ins.
“We’re harnessing 10 years of advances in computer vision and robotics to build perhaps one of the most powerful mobile devices ever made. One with human-scale understanding of space and motion. Epic,” Google explained.
[Source, Image – Google]