Google‘s annual developer conference kicks off tomorrow, and Mashable will be on the scene covering it live. It’s bound to be packed with news about Google products — from Google+ to Android — and there will be lots in store for consumers.
Although this looks to be an eventful conference, company CEO Larry Page is likely to be a no-show. It’s rumored that Page lost his voice late last week and won’t be in shape to appear at I/O. He says there’s “nothing seriously wrong” with him, so there’s no reason to be nervous about the overall health of the Google CEO.
Google I/O begins with a keynote at 9:30 a.m. PT tomorrow (watch for our live blog). A host of Google executives will take the stage, going through Google’s products and strategy, one by one. But since Page has taken over as chief executive in 2011, the company has shown better focus, and we’ll probably see more about how Google’s myriad products integrate with each other in this year’s show, from cloud to search to mobile and beyond.
Google+It’s been almost exactly a year since Google launched its in-house social network, Google+. The timing of I/O might be a coincidence — it was in May last year — but it could also mean Google has some plans for Google+’s anniversary.
Google’s made a lot of tweaks to Google+ recently, launching new apps for iOS and Android and integrating the network with local search results. It’s also available as a channel on Flipboard. At I/O, Google may release more extensive APIs for Google+ so developers can start integrating its content into more apps.
In any case, we’ll certainly get updated stats on the network, hopefully getting an idea if it will ever be as pervasive as Facebook.
Android Jelly BeanGoogle’s next major Android update will be “Jelly Bean,” which will be either version 4.1 or 5.0.
While we’re not expecting any major visual changes to Jelly Bean, we do expect that Google will continue to refine the experience on both the smartphone and the tablet. It’s taken a while, but we’re finally seeing Ice Cream Sandwich handsets ship — including the HTC One X and the Samsung Galaxy S III. With Ice Cream Sandwich penetration still below 10%, it will be interesting to see if handset makers decide to jump directly to Jelly Bean (assuming the hardware is compatible).
The Jelly Bean upgrade could bring with it a final version of Chrome for Android, which has been in beta for a while. That could mean the standard Android browser is about to be replaced, or it could remain as a separate download but that seems more than a little redundant.
The final version of Chrome for Android could mean a more definitive plan for how Google’s mobile platform will interact with Chrome OS. Google recently launched a revamped Chrome OS along with new devices. The company is still clearly betting some money on Chromebooks, but exactly what hand Google’s playing with them is still a little unclear. Perhaps more focus for Chrome OS will be on tap.
Nexus TabletA Google tablet has been rumored to be in the works for a while. It makes a great deal of sense — even more in the wake of Microsoft’s Surface announcement. With the Google tablet, it’ll mean almost all of the major platform providers — Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google — will have a “reference” tablet product. The only exception will be Facebook, which so far doesn’t make hardware of any kind.
However, let’s be clear: If Google introduces a Nexus tablet, one of its hardware partners will actually build the device, most likely Asus. The tablet is also rumored to represent an expansion of the Nexus line of Google-endorsed devices running stock Android — Google is said to be planning several more Nexus phones and devices.
Google MapsEarlier this month, Google unveiled what it dubbed “the future of Google Maps” at a special event in San Francisco. The latest features include offline mapping for Android devices, updated Street View options and 3D Google Earth maps.
The bigger story with Google Maps — and with mobile mapping in general — is the disruption taking place in the space. When Apple officially announced that it was dropping Google Maps in iOS 6, it raised some interesting questions about the future of Google Apps in iOS.
It is very likely that Google will announce its own Google Maps app for iOS, much like it offers apps for Google Voice, Gmail, Google Earth and Google+.
As for disruption, Google is facing a lot of it — and not just from Apple. OpenStreetMap is becoming an increasingly popular mapping API for mobile app developers.
In February, Foursquare announced that it was dropping Google Maps for OpenStreetMap, in part because of Google’s pricing. Earlier this week, Google announced big price cuts to its Google Maps API, perhaps as a bid to keep developers from moving away from the platform.
Cloud Platform and Google DriveBecause I/O is a developer conference, some of the most future-facing — and important — announcements and sessions might also be the most unsexy. Still, we think it’s worth paying attention to what Google announces and unveils about its Cloud Platform and Google Drive products.
With its Cloud Platform, Google offers cloud solutions for application developers and service vendors. It also faces stiff competition from Amazon, Rackspace, Heroku (Salesforce) and Joyent. At I/O, we expect Google to announce its latest cloud initiatives, perhaps with a focus at helping existing businesses and services migrate to the cloud.
As for Google Drive, looking at some of the session descriptions, it’s clear the emphasis is on adding Google Drive support to apps and services.
As we’ve argued in the past, it’s this kind of integration that could make Google Drive a real contender against the likes of Box, Dropbox and SharePoint.
Google TV and Google PlayThe biggest advantage that Apple, Amazon and Microsoft have over Google in the mobile and media space is access to commercial content. Google has tried to mitigate the situation with its rebranded Google Play store. Google Play offers users a one-stop shop for apps, movies, music and books. At least, in theory.
In practice, Google is still having a hard time signing major commercial media partners to its services. It’s also not seeing the adoption on its own platform.
At Google I/O, we expect Google to focus on integrating the Google Play ecosystem across services and devices — putting more emphasis on building a viable content platform.
The living room is a crucial part of any content platform.
Let’s face it, Google has not found success with Google TV. More than two years after the platform was announced at Google I/O 2010, neither consumers nor device makers have flocked to the service. Still, with the living room largely considered to be the “next” battleground, Google has to do something — especially if it wants to compete with Microsoft and Apple.
We expect that Google will discuss the ways it is going to help developers port their Android or web content directly to the television. We also expect to see Google make good on some of the promises it made last year in regards to controlling the living room.
Christina Warren contributed to the reporting in this story.