Home Technology Google I/O 2016: Things to watch out for

Google I/O 2016: Things to watch out for

Google’s annual I/O event is just round the corner (May 18 to be precise), which makes this just the right time to speculate as to what the Mountain View company might have in store for us this year.

However, this happens to be the first time the developer’s conference is being held with Google being a subsidiary of Alphabet. That is not all as the event will be spread over three days which makes for another first and is a pointer of there being a lot more to discuss than it had been over the years.

Here is a short compilation of all that’s likely to be coming our way during the three-day event.

Android: First off is off course Android, and its ‘N’ this time round. No confirmation what the N stands for though its Nutella that is being speculated. However, Android N won’t have the same spotlight as has been the case during Google I/O events in successive years. That’s because Google had already revealed the Android N Developer Preview in early March, a move that had taken everyone by surprise.

That said, there might still be a new Android N Developer Preview version to show off during the event though it surely won’t have the same effect as introducing a whole new Android Developer Preview. The second preview was mostly about the Vulkan graphics API along with a few other features such a new emoji’s and so on.

A few new Nexus devices that are now being built by HTC might also find mention though given that Android N is not expected to debut before Q3, 2016, those might only have guest appearances at the most.

In any case, features likely to be part of Android N include new design and functionality for the notification section, support for multiple windows, along with maybe support for a pressure sensitive display as well.

Android + Chrome: There has already been a lot of talk about Google attempting a merger of sorts of its Chrome OS with Android. And that might also be the reason why the company revealed Android N earlier than it usually does; to ensure Android and Chrome merger gets the bigger spotlight.

If things indeed pan out that way than it is Android that’s likely to emerge as the jack-of-all-trade sort of operating system from Google powering everything from mobiles, tablets, watches, and cars to laptops and desktops in future. Sure that would call for quite a bit of modification such as a new UI for Android to enable it to work in a desktop environment, complete with a mouse and keyboard as compliments.

Unofficial sources claim a demo version should be ready by 2016 with a more matured version slated for release the following year. However, it would be prudent for Google to take into confidence its developer community on such a major new restructuring effort.

Virtual Reality: That already is the newest fad the Silicon Valley is under the grip of and will no doubt feature prominently at the conference. Google also isn’t a newcomer here, having already amassed a lot of experience with its quirky but immensely successful Cardboard project. Of course things aren’t going to stop at that; more so with Facebook and HTC already having launched their state-of-the-art Oculus Rift and Vive VR headsets respectively.

Details are scarce at the moment though rumors have it that Google does have a new and more durable (compared to the Cardboard) headset unit up its sleeve that won’t be as exotic as its competitors but will still be special in its own way. For instance, it might have its own computing resource to run on, without requiring being connected to an external high-performance computer.

Project Tango: That makes for Google’s take on augmented reality with the form factor of a smartphone. Also, the development partner is Lenovo and with the launch window likely to be around late summer, it no doubt will get featured during the event. For the uninitiated, the project envisages using a smartphone laced with an array of advanced sensors that can create the 3D map of, say the interior of a room.

IoT, AI: This happens to be one of the hottest segments at the moment with no sign of it letting off some heat anytime soon. Google also has the advantage of being an early mover here after having acquired Nest, a company that specializes in developing smart gadgets. Unfortunately, it could not capitalize on the lead.

However, the enthusiasm might be back with reports of the company likely to show off something it can hold aloft against the Amazon Echo. Those might still be rumors though the I/O event still present a nice setting to discuss such things and stuff like the Echo is already selling in respectable numbers.

Self-driving cars: It’s no secret Google has been practicing quite a lot here and we might finally get to have something more concrete emerging with its driver-less car concept. Google has already entered into a partnership with Chrysler with maybe a tie-up with another company is in the wings. Self-driving cars is also another hot new tech initiative that is being pursued by all major car companies and Google certainly wants a slice of that lucrative pie.

Google Aura: Google Glass has been the showstopper of the Google I/O event 2012 and it remains to be seen what sort of a reception Aura – Google Glass Part 2 – receives this year. Often been the butt of many a joke, Google hasn’t really junked the project. Instead, it is being through a revival of sorts with Nest CEO Tony Fadell calling all the shots here. Also, Aura is being seen to fit those in the manufacturing and healthcare industries with the focus this time being on enterprise rather than consumers.

Google Hangout replacement: The search giant is still faltering with its strategy in a segment as lucrative and important as instant messaging. Its Hangout has never been popular while users flocked to alternatives such as WhatsApp or Snapchat. That could change as Google is already reported to offer an alternative to its Hangout, something that might be previewed during the developer’s conference.

Overall, there seems a lot of action awaiting us this time. The show begins 1 PM EST on May 18.