Google I/O: What to Look for

Google I/O: What to Look for
Mustansir Mashruk Rahman

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Less than a week away, Google I/O is creating lots of excitement across the technology world. The conference – being held on 28th and 29th May, will see Google unveil the technologies they are working on. As ever, rumors are rife about what new announcements are coming from the conference. All eyes are glued to the keynote address where Google executives will reveal new projects and products that are either ready for the market or are ripe in the R&D phase they are in.

Last year Google showed off Android L, then codename for 5.0 Lollipop, as well as Google Auto, Android TV to name a few. They also displayed their quirky take on virtual reality with Cardboard as well as new features in Chromebook.

This year, rumors are tougher to confirm as the mystery surrounding the conference is unlike anything last year. Apart from the conference schedule, there are few other credible sources to go for information.  The biggest hype is being created by Android M, the codename for the next incarnation of the Android OS. But we aren’t human if we don’t try to speculate about the future, being one of the traits of our sentience, now, would we? So, we better gorge ourselves into the rumors, just to make sure we are human.

Android M

We can only imagine, having named Android versions for mouth-watering treats, what M will stand for. But the first letter is also progressing in the alphabetical order, from Cupcake to Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, KitKat and now Lollipop. M may stands for Marshmallow, but who knows? But when the search giant first published the I/O schedule, there was a session titled ‘Android for Work Update’ with details saying ‘Android M is bringing the power of Android to all kinds of workplaces.’ Since then Google has removed the entire posting. Now I/O will hold another session called ‘What’s new in Android’, demonstrating Google has something up their sleeve that they want to share.

Google is also holding several sessions on ‘Material Design’, leading to conclusion that Android M will have little in design change. Another session titled ‘Notifications, Interruptions and Volumes: Coming Attractions’ is pretty upfront, stating that Google has worked and changed how notifications behave on Android. Google also seems to have worked on battery performance, Smart Lock features and memory management.

Virtual Reality

Google has a session called ‘make believe’ on virtual reality in the I/O dedicated to virtual reality. Since Oculus Rift drew attention, Google unveiled Google Cardboard, their take on VR.

Details on the session is pretty sparse, although VR will come swinging hard this year… or so the rumor machine dictates. “Join us to explore virtual reality and how it may change our lives.” says the entry for the session, “Learn how it works and how to design virtual reality experiences, including lessons learnt from virtual reality game developer Katie Goode.”

Satellite Mapping

In 2014, google acquired Skybox, a satellite mapping company. This year’s I/O will see what Google intended to do with its service.

In a session ‘The Earth in Real Time’, Google is “looking to take the next step forward in satellite imaging and find new ways to help people use data from space to solve problems on Earth” – as the session description read. Google also plan to use it to improve internet access worldwide and provide better disaster relief. All issues considered, this could be the next big thing!

Smart Home

With Nest, the smart thermostat and smoke alarm company Google acquired in 2014, Google is working on home automation and we will see their first fruit in this year’s I/O, in a session titled ‘Working with Nest to build a thoughtful home together’. The session description hints at making smart-home gadgets and systems work better together, with improved security. In 2013, Nest launched ‘Work with Nest’ program to allow other smart devices work with Nest products to work in consort.

Google Glass

Google already said they are working on next generation Glass and this will certainly make a present in this year’s I/O. Google has partnered with Intel for more power into Glass. Change may also come in shape, relocation of sensors and cameras. It may also get a eye tracking system.

Other Wearables

There are several sessions that, in their demeanor, promises new wearable devices. There could be a new smart fitness device announced in the session on Google’s health dashboard app, ‘Google Fit’. Apart from that, there is ‘Smart Lock’ session, a security feature introduced in Android Lollipop that lets you unlock your phone or tablet by having a trusted smartwatch close by.

The most anticipated on the wearables is what Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) is doing with Project Tango and others. ATAP is working on giving smartphones the ability to do realistic 3D mapping and create virtual experiences as the phone’s owner moves through the real world. People will dying to know the latest update on these futuristic techs.

All in all, Google I/O is creating lots of excitement around the tech world but Google is keeping its mouth shut until the conference begins in 28th May, so details are somewhat rare. But judging by the rumors, even if only a fraction is true, then this will be a spectacular conference indeed. If some rumors turns out to be false, don’t worry, Google may surprise you yet!