Google I/O 2012: What to expect
June has been a busy month in tech. First, we had Apple’s WWDC, and last week it was all about Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Now it is Google’s time to shine with the Google I/O conference at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. This annual event is where Google makes major announcements about upcoming products and services. At last year’s I/O, Google introduced Android Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) as well as Google Chromebooks.
Google I/O starts this Wednesday, June 27 and lasts until Friday, June 29 with keynotes on Day 1 and Day 2. The PCWorld and TechHive team will be in full force at Google I/O, bringing you photos, keynote liveblogs, and news coverage on all of Google's announcements. While Google always has a few surprises in store for Google I/O, here are of some of the products we expect to hear more about at the show.
First came the phone, next comes the tablet: The Nexus Tablet, that is. Google is expected to introduce a 7-inch tablet aimed to compete with the Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet. The Nexus 7, as one rumored training document calls it, will cost $199 for an 8GB version, and $249 for a 16GB version. The tablet will likely be based on the Asus MeMo 370T Tegra 3 tablet shown at CES 2012. Rumors put the specs at 1.3GHz quad-core Tegra 3, 1GB of RM, and a high-resolution 1280 by 800 pixel IPS display. Other features will include NFC, Android Beam, and Google Wallet. As for operating system: Word has it we’ll see the oft-mentioned Jelly Bean, which we expect to hear more about.
Those specs would make the Nexus an enticing alternative to tablets like Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet. It would force competitive tablet makers to re-evaluate their offerings. Toshiba’s competitive Excite 7.7 tablet has the same resolution and packs a Tegra 3 and 16GB, but it also costs twice the price.
Other than the rumor that the Galaxy Nexus would be the first phone to receive Android Jelly Bean, we know next to nothing about this dessert-themed update. If Google does announce its Nexus Tablet at the show, there's a good chance that it too will ship with Jelly Bean installed. All signs point to Jelly Bean being an incremental update over Android Ice Cream Sandwich, rather than a major revision - think 4.1 rather than 5.0. The one thing we do know is that we'll likely hear more about this latest Android OS at the Android keynote Wednesday morning.
Another rumor: Google will introduce its own voice assistant, vis a vis Apple’s Siri. Rumored to be called “Majel,” the feature will likely build upon Google Voice Actions and use natural language commands.
While Android gets most of the fanfare at Google I/O, expect Google to announce some Chrome-related news at Day 2’s keynote. Last year, we saw the dawning of Chromebooks, laptops running Google’s Linux-based operating system. And last month, Google introduced a new version of Chrome OS, as well as updated Chromebooks and its first Chromebox, a Samsung-built diminutive desktop system. This year, we’ll hopefully hear more about Google’s plans and vision for the operating system.
Google TV had a rough year. Many of the promises and potential introduced at last year’s Google I/O failed to happen, or did not have the intended impact. Sony introduced a set-top box with Google TV on-board at the start of this week, though; and Google has a track dedicated to its living room OS, so the company appears dedicated to it.
Google needs to pull out all the stops in its play for the living room. With Microsoft’s Windows 8 coming later this year, continual enhancements to Xbox 360, and Apple continuing to make a push for the living room, Google has a wide opportunity to bring Android to the television, and to tie the television and living room in with its phones and tablets.
We must admit that we were blown away by Google's video showing off Project Glass. We were excited by the idea of glasses that let us take pictures, video chat, and post things to Google+ (okay, maybe not so much that last one), all from a slick looking interface. Unfortunately Google would go on to admit that it might have oversold us on Project Glass, stating that it would be able to take pictures—but that some of the things it showed off during the Project Glass teaser reel were still far away. Google I/O seems like the perfect place for Google to show off another feature of Project Glass and maybe start giving out development kits to the developers in attendance.
Google remains tight-lipped about what we’ll see so we’re sure that there will be even more news announced this week. Check PCWorld and TechHive for all of the latest Google news and photos from Moscone Center in San Francisco!