Here at Android Headlines, we've been getting in the mood for Google I/O and you probably might have noticed a slew of I/O previews a while back. I encourage you all to read them. Here though, I'm going to go through pretty much everything in one big, bumper I/O Preview. Sure, there are a whole host of these articles around the internet but, keeping tabs on just what Google could be up to is a little difficult. Here, we're going to be going through things piece of piece, covering all of the big things that could be happening at this year's I/O, and some we just want to happen. Join me, as I run through some crazy predictions and put my mind-reading talents to good use.
Android 4.3, Android 5.0, Key Lime Pie or Whatever The New Version is Going to Be Called
So, we've been hearing a lot about this pie business lately, is it Android 4.3 or Android 5.0. There's been evidence to suggest that Google are testing an Android 4.3, which wouldn't be surprise us at all. Android 2.0 had releases all the way up to 2.3, so it's not uncommon for Google to do something like this. What we don't want Google to do is to name Android 4.3 Jelly Bean again, we understand the importance of naming and a series of releases but, this is just going to give carriers and OEMs even more ammo. Ammunition to easily worm their way out of keeping devices updated, "Well, it's still Jelly Bean", is the phrase that I can see spewing out of both carriers and OEM's mouths. It's not as if they need any more encouragement is it?
Will Google announce/release a new version at I/O? Well, more than likely - they did last year after all. Also, it's been a while in Android terms since we had a big release, Android 4.2 came out last fall. If Google were to unveil a new version of Android, we'd expect some tighter integration with Google's services, improved apps and a whole raft of new cards for Google Now. What would like to see fixe/implemented or even changed in a new Android release?
Babel, Hangouts and The Project That Will Change Messaging for Ever
If we're really honest with ourselves, Google's Messaging platforms suck. Really suck. If I'm at my computer for instance, and I'm chatting away to Alex, let's say, why does my phone, and then my Nexus 7 beep at me? Why? That's something that shouldn't happen and it's said that Babel is going to fix all of that, we've gotten a little bit of info concerning what Babel or Hangouts might look like but nothing concrete. The general idea here is that Google are going to bring all of their messaging strands into one, and I for one can't wait. Apple have had iMessage for some time now, and while it's far from perfect, it's a lot better than what we have to deal with on a daily basis. If Google are really going to move into mobile in an even bigger way, they need to get on top of messaging.
Google Gaming; "Google's Playground"?
This is something else that we've heard quite a bit about, and it actually looks like the most likely to happen on this list. First of all, there's the massive hint that Google left in the My Glass app and of course another subtle hint is Google inviting everywhere to their own playground. Stay classy, Google. So, why is this a good thing? Android is a brilliant platform for games developers and gamers in general, there's a lot of titles out there and devs are given a lot more freedom than they would be elsewhere. Regardless, there are a myriad of multiplayer options out there on Android and while most of them work quite well, you must have an account for each of them. This sort of widespread competition doesn't encourage people to play with their friends. At all. In fact, you could say that it's soured the whole experience. Thankfully though, it looks like Google are going to muscle in and sort things out.
Apple's Game Center might not be the best example here but, it brings friends together and it encourages more gaming. I don't really like mobile games but, if there were a cohesive platform for all gaming on Android, then I would probably buy more games. I am the same on PC, I will pay more for a game on Steam to keep away from Games for Windows Live and Origin (don't get me started on Origin).
Changes to GMail and Google Maps
Recently, we reported on some significant changes heading to Google Maps online. Whether or not that suggests these changes will be coming to Android is something we don't know but, there's talk of Google actually changing the look and feel of the maps, which would have to come over to Android. It's easy for us to forget that Google still run websites when we're so transfixed on Android but, maps.google.com is still muscle memory for a lot of people out there and changing things up seems an interesting idea to us. After all, it's been a long time since they changed things up and others are looking to get in on the mapping game so why not show the rest how it's done?
There's also talk of GMail getting a sprucing as well, which I think a lot of us would welcome. It's said that the Android app is about to get some improvements that should bring it in line with the iOS apps and make sure they hold their distinct Android look and feel. GMail is a big part of my life, and every morning I wake up to the Nexus 7 I wish for a better experience, hopefully I/O is where we'll see it.
New Nexus Devices?
If there was going to be some devices announced at this year's I/O we'd probably have heard a lot more about them than we have done. However, very recently we just got word of the "new Nexus 7", which is said to be shipping with Android 4.3 and a Snapdragon S4 Pro. Again, Google will be selling this device at cost so we can expect something in the same price range as we have now. It seems pretty likely that the device will be announced at I/O, but then again if Google were to announce a whole range like last year, announcing them all in the fall would make sense.
As for the Nexus Q, there's whispers of something new on this front but, I very much doubt it. The project was a flop and the device itself was too expensive, especially compared to the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 4 that came in the fall. It was an admirable effort by Google but, ultimately it was a flawed concept.
New Chromebooks, Chrome OS News
Here at Android Headlines we're big fans of Chrome OS and I even have a CR-48 in my possession. In just the last year or so, Chrome OS has come on leaps and bounds. Ever since the Luna update that bought a more traditional interface to the Chromebook, there's been more and more happening in Chrome OS land. For one thing, it's even more secure than it was and now there are even more parteners involved. HP and Lenovo have joined the fray now, too. Google put their own faith in their platform with the Chromebook Pixel. Not even Google would ask that much for a laptop if they didn't think it was worth it.
In between the cheap $249 Samsung and the Pixel, there's very little in between. I'm thinking that this is where Google will announce a new Chromebook. A device to sit somewhere in between all of this expensive Pixel business and the super-cheap offerings from Samsung and Acer. Now, if they were to release a quality 1080p Chromebook around the $500 mark than I think it would do very well indeed.