Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Google IO 2015: news, rumours and predictions


Updated: Google IO 2015: news, rumors and predictions

Latest Google IO 2015 news and rumours

Official dates were revealed for Google IO in mid-February. The developer conference is set to invade San Francisco's Moscone Center May 28 - May 29. Registration opened March 17 at 9 a.m. PT/5 p.m. GMT and lasted until March 19 at 5 p.m. PT/1 a.m. GMT.
Demand to attend looked as high as ever, despite general admission passes costing $900 (about £601, AU$1,140).
Like years previous, Google plans to broadcast the event's happenings for folks who'd like to tune-in from home. The keynote and select sessions will be live streamed.
Details on session specifics are still missing, though we'll update this hub as soon as we know more. That being said, it's not too early to start thinking about what this year's IO will bring, from the big to the small. Google is facing a wave of competition on all sides - not least of which from Apple and its Watch - which should make for a compelling Android-oriented conference.
Read on for more news and rumors below!
In the months since the IO 2014, Google has unleashed a number of tantalizing products and intriguing concepts that have us looking forward it its 2015 conference.
With Android L releasing into the wild, the revelation of the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9Android Wear smartwatches winding up on wrists everywhere, and devices like Project Ara and Project Tango teasing us with possibilities, Google is setting itself up for even more innovation in 2015.
Unlike last year's IO, which was short on exciting announcements, we expect Google to rebound an event loaded with breakthroughs, surprises and products we can't wait to use. Read on for the latest news and rumors surrounding the show, and let us know what you'd like to see in the comments below!
Also, head to Page 2 for what we'd like to see at Google IO 2015.

Project Ara

The intrigue around Project Ara, Google's modular phone, is palpable. The biggest question surrounds whether this thing will actually work with so many parts options, and thankfully we'll get a chance to see if it can in the second half of the year.

Project Ara
Google announced in mid-January Project Ara will launch as a pilot program in Puerto Rico later on this year. We know, that's after IO, but we wouldn't be surprised to hear more about this program, and maybe even some more test markets, before IO is in the books. Look for some nitty gritty on how Project Ara functions during the conference as well as a pitch to developers and components makers to bolster the Ara ecosystem.

Android 5.0 Lollipop and Chrome

Android 5 is pretty sweet, but it's having a hell of a time getting to flagship phones. Sure, the HTC One M8 developer and unlocked additions were treated to Lollipop in mid-January along with Galaxy S5s living in the UK, but that's hardly widespread adoption.

Android Lollipop

We hope by the time IO rolls around, most flagships on most major networks have joined Team Lollipop. If that's the case, it would make for good timing for the next version of Android to release, something like Android 5.5 or even, dare we say, Android 6. Announcing Android 6 would fit Google's timeline for new mobile OS reveals; it was at IO 2014 that we first met "Android L," after all.
Chrome also seems likely for lots of IO love. While we haven't heard anything specific to IO, we do have a sense of things to come. Google announced in mid-January Chrome Remote Desktop for iOS, letting users access their PC on their iPhone or iPad. The concept is nothing new, but the fact Google released this specifically for iOS gives us a clue that more cross-OS functionality is top of Google's mind.

Cardboard

Oculus Rift may rule the VR roost, but don't count Cardboard out before it gets a chance to shine.

Cardboard

In December 2014, Google announced some choice updates for its VR viewer, including a dedicated page for apps on Google Play and a number of places to purchase Cardboard so users don't have to make their own. Developers (the target IO audience) were also given access to Cardboard SDKs for Android and Unity. New viewer specs and a wave of VR-related hiring rounded out the year-end announcements.
So what does this mean for IO 2015? Likely plenty. There's six months between these announces and the conference, ample time to hire VR folks, improve the viewers design (Cardboard 2, anyone?) and create apps and games to prance out on the IO stage. Expect Cardboard to get more than a brief mention at this year's conference.

Android Auto

Besides wearables, there's really no hotter space for companies to get into than cars right now. Google, as you know, has been very active on the auto front.

Google self-driving car

Let's start with a no-big-deal project (not) - its self-driving car. Google followed up the buzz around its initial mock-up by revealing in December 2014 it has a self-driving prototype that, you know, actually drives its self. Google is currently testing this version and plans to put functioning vehicles on Northern California roads sometime this year. A Google IO 2015 demo feels very plausible.
In addition to its self-driving car, car companies are signing up for Android Auto left and right. Several Android Auto-related announcements were made during CES 2015, including ones from PioneerVolkswagen and Parrot. Following Android Auto's debut at IO 2014, you can bet your left blinker Google has more car talk planned for this year's gathering.

Android TV

Say hello to the new king of Google's TV OS ambitions. Google TV is dead, the company announced in early January, usurped by the burgeoning Android TV platform.

Android TV

With support ending for Google TV and the one-year anniversary of Android TV's emergence approaching at IO, Google is sure to spend plenty of time talking about the smart TV system this year. Sony plans to put Android TV in all its 2015 models, and developers are now encouraged to create Android TV and Cast-enabled apps.
Google will no doubt enlighten us further on its living rooms plans at IO 2015, placing Android TV at the heart of it all.

Google Wallet, Glass, virtual reality and Fit 

Read on for what we want to see during the annual developer confab, and tell us know in the comments what showstoppers - or showsleepers - you think Google will whip out.

Pull out your Google Wallet

Now that Apple has gotten serious about mobile payments with Apple Pay, we anticipate Google Wallet getting some love during IO 2015.
Mountain View's mobile payment platform has bounced like a bad check, but as Apple gets into the game in a big way (have you been to a McDonald's in the US lately?), Google can't sit idly by as its biggest rival gobbles up NFC payment-dom.
The world is still wary of mobile payments, especially in the wake of massive credit card hacks, so it's yet to be proven if Apple Pay (or any service) is the silver bullet to the anti-credit card conundrum. Despite that - or maybe because of it - we want Google to swing for the fences with a revamped Google Wallet.
The timing may be tricky as some US retailers are shunning Apple Pay in favor of their own mobile payment system, but we wouldn't put it past Google to corral some big names into its tap-to-pay service circle.

Where the heck is Google Glass?

OK, Google. The Explorer program is several years old, more apps have found their way onto your loved/loathed wearable and you've allowed US consumers to have their hand at Glass, but when are we going to see the final consumer version and its (hopefully) cheaper price?
Yes, Google Glass is part of completely new device category and there's want to get it right, but there's a feeling we can't shake that now that Android Wear has shown its face, Google has relegated its first wearable to the basement.
Not helping matters is the fact the consumer edition release date has reportedly been pushed until 2015, and app makers, including Twitter, are distancing themselves from the Glass.
To top it off, the Glass poster child, Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin, left his company-made headset behind in the car while he attended a November Silicon Valley event, not exactly sending a singing message that Glass is something you can't leave home without.

Google Glass

That sets the stage for a pretty telling IO 2015. Google has two choices, really: either try to re-capture the public's imagination with Glass (or, more fittingly, show it has real-world applications), or keep quiet and let Glass slide quietly out of sight.
We think Google will go for the former, otherwise all those years of pushing Glass on developers and executives sporting them on their brows will be for naught. More critically, with other head-worn wearables like Oculus Rift gaining greater visibility, Google can't afford to let Glass' future get any foggier.
We expect Google to place lots of emphasis on apps made for Glass, especially since its Glass Development Kit will be around a year old by then, plus show us hardware that's vastly improved and/or vastly cheaper than what one sees bobbing on heads around the Valley these days.

When Google met VR 

Speaking of things you put on your face, Google's DIY Cardboard VR headset was a fun yet potentially conspicuous surprise during last year's IO.
Google handed out the headset as a little something extra at the end of its Day 1 keynote, but you didn't need to be in attendance to get one because anyone can build the "no frills" viewer with a few acquired materials.
Could Google flush out the concept during IO 2015? We think so, especially since Samsung's Gear VR does virtually the same thing with more premium materials.

Cardboard

Whether this means Google delivers a more durable headset, reveals apps and games developed for Cardboard as-is, or introduces some virtual reality features somehow tied Glass, we don't know, but we can say the VR market is too hot for Google to pass up.
Update December 10, 2014: Google showed how serious it is about Cardboard by filling us in on the work it's been doing since the viewer was revealed. The company added a dedicated collection page on Google Play for Google apps. There are now more places to pick up a Cardboard viewer, developers have access to SDKs for Android and Unity and makers scored some new building specs. Finally, Google said it's hiring for positions in Cardboard and VR, signaling this is far from the last we've heard about the DIY VR viewer.

Focus on your Fit

Another carryover from IO 2014 we'd like to see at the 2015 run is Google Fit. The Apple HealthKit rival officially launched as a Google Play app in late October, while developers were given full access to the platform's APIs.
As developers create health-enhancing programs for Android users and devices become better equipped to use Google Fit's feature set, there should be plenty to relay come dev con time. We'd like to see just how far Fit has come in a year's time and what the future holds for Google and health. What's more, who's to say Google won't have a fitness tracking wearable to show that puts Fit front and center?

The living room, Google watch and other stuff

Coming to your living room … again!

Stop us if you've heard this one before, but Google will make a play for your living room during IO 2015.
What we hope is different this time around is Google coming at your favorite four walls with some kind of cohesive plan in place.
The company recently announced Nexus Player, perhaps its most robust and practical entertainment offering to date, but don't expect it to stop there. Even if it should.
Google struck gold with Chromecast, the dirt cheap dongle some people own more than one of, so no one would be surprised if the firm returned to the formula with Chromecast 2 or another bargain bin-priced device. In fact, Google is reportedly already working on Chromecast 2, making an IO reveal seem all the more likely.

Chromecast

Whatever Google does, we want it to, you know, make cohesive sense. So far, this "scatter gun approach" (hat tip James Rivington) is only creating a series of half-baked products that no one is buying into. That is, except Chromecast.
It might be time for Google to put its money on the winning horse, if you catch our drift.

'Android Wear, where you at?'

"In watches like the Moto 360LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live, that's where, TechRadar!"
Yes, Google's wearable OS has taken hold in a surprisingly quick turnaround from announcement to market. The only thing missing? Google's own smartwatch running its home-grown Android Wear OS. No biggie, right?
Like the Apple Watch before it, the Google watch has been the stuff of legend for what feels like ions. Unlike the Apple Watch, the Google watch is still unannounced. Even more unlike the Apple Watch, the Google watch probably won't be on sale by the time IO 2015 rolls around (the Apple Watch release is slated for early 2015).
This leaves Google out of a growing hardware product category while others grab hold. One could argue Google has more than enough of a stranglehold on the smartwatch market with Android Wear, and it's certainly a valid point.
However, in order for Google to truly be in the wearable conversation, we need to see its own branded hardware serve as the hallmark for what Android Wear can really do.
So, Google, give us the Nexus Watch, or whatever you want to call it. Give us something we can point to and say, "Hey, Apple, you see what Google came up with?" Give us something to strap on our wrists so we can complete the look with our Nexus phone, Nexus tablet and Google Glass.
Give us the wearable we've been waiting for.
YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQHVfNSVmH4Update December 10, 2014: With the release of Android Lollipop for Android Wear, Google introduced a bevy of custom watch faces for the wearable. The firm also released its Watch Face API, letting developers take a crack at creating their own watch faces. We have an inkling the many faces of Android Wear (plus a whole lot more) are due for some major airtime at IO 2015.