Yep, it’s that time of year again. Google fans and Android faithful will be glued to their screens, that is, if they’re not already preparing to make an appearance at the mothership in California. Naturally, the rumor mill is teeming with what may or may not happen at the developers conference. And of course, we have our own picks of what we believe will take place, or at least wish will take place at Google I/O 2015 next week. We start off, in no particular order, with the most obvious of them all.
Google made an unexpected move last year when it revealed what was then simply known as “Android L” months before it would be launched and formally called Lollipop. The early preview gave developers time to dwell on and prepare for the new features and new design, which were quite big changes. That might be the same case this year with Android M, which is already shaping up with some interesting expected features:
• Official fingerprint support: with the number of devices sporting biometric scanners, it is actually Google’s responsibility to implement a standard on Android before things get too out of hand.
• Multi-window: Google has been known not to be a fan of this particular feature but the search giant might be willing to finally yield this time, especially with rumors of the upcoming iPad sporting such a feature as well.
Though it’s really part of the Android ecosystem, Android Pay still deserves separate treatment because of how it will go head to head with Apple Pay. It might as well be called Google Pay, for what it’s worth. This mobile payment system that supposedly isn’t just a rehash of Google Wallet has all but been confirmed, but we’re still waiting on the full details. In particular, we’re interested to see what Google has planned for the “more than NFC” part of the system and we’re quite curious to hear where the Softcard acquisition early this year fits in.
A new wearable
This one is interesting if only because of the amount of flack Google might receive. Considering how its Google Glass spectacularly failed (so far), some might be a bit wary of Google’s next stab at a wearable device. The fact that it would come from ATAP, which has a 2-year mandate to transform concept into product, might inspire a bit of confidence judging from the so far successful but still absent Project Ara modular smartphone.
It would be totally hilarious, however, if this new wearable ended up being Google Glass v2. We’re hoping Google won’t be purposely putting itself in harm’s way, but everyone knows how the wearable craze can get, well, crazy.
Android Wear on iOS
This one is quite ripe for the picking and we’d almost say it’s a hundred percent certain to be landing next week, if not for the foreseen bumps on the road. Technically speaking, it seems that everything is already in place for at least a very basic friendly relationship between an Android Wear smartwatch and an iOS device. It might not be as feature rich as an Android to Android partnership, but at least it’s there.
But technical considerations aren’t always the problem. As past events showed, it might be difficult to let this pass through Apple’s stringent but sometimes random app quality assurance process. Especially given the recent launch of the Apple Watch, which is rumored to having a bit of trouble in the market, Apple might not be too keen on letting its competition in.
Brillo: Android for IoT
After smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, cars, and TVs/set-top boxes, Google is aiming for everything else that can be found in your house. Yes, Google is joining the Internet of Things game. Called “Brillo” for now, rumor has it that it will be Android-based. If so, however, it will probably be undergoing a very strict diet in order to fit inside the even smaller computers powering smart appliances. Google already has a foot inside the IoT market courtesy of Nest, so it’s is really more of a when rather than if it would be joining the fray more directly.
What we’re not expecting at Google I/O 2015
Just as there are many things we think or hope to be announced next week, there will also be some that we know, or hope, won’t even cast a shadow there.
After a rather embarrassing run, it isn’t yet time to return the smart spectacle to the public. Emotions still run high and wounds run deep. Google already has a more or less better gig with Cardboard, and it should perhaps distract the masses with VR while it goes back to the drawing board.
Nexus 6/9 + 1
It is also too early for a new Nexus device to be announced. In fact, Google has seemed to have whittle down the new Google Store selection to just one generation of the Google-blessed smartphone and tablet. The Nexus 6 and the Nexus 9 are hardly a year old and in fact still have to actually make any dent in the market the way their predecessors did. There is still a lot of juice to be squeezed out of these two, so you can bet they’ll be sticking all the way to Android M later this year.
Besides, the Nexus 6’s life is really just beginning now that it is the one and only device that works with Google’s Project Fi MVNO service.
And by this, we mean that we don’t expect the next Android version to be named right then and there yet. Google allowed the Internet to guess the “L” name for a good few months before it awarded it to Lollipop. It even has an audition video to commemorate the wild game that the Web developed around it. Shame on Google if it deprives us of that.
Of course, there are already a ton we already know will be discussed, like Android for Work, Android Auto, and Android TV just to name a few. And there are some, like Project Ara, we expect to be there without a doubt. Needless to say, I/O 2015 will be as jam-packed as ever, but don’t worry if you can’t be there in person or even follow the live streams. We’ve got you covered.