If you’re gearing up for Google’s big annual developer event this year, you might be wondering what the company will be doing with its full two-day event, which kicks off Wednesday. Google’s focus this year is expanding to include more information and value for the gamut of app and software makers. That means speaking not just to developers but also to designers and marketers. But for the average user, there’s still plenty to look for here in terms of news and excitement, too.
A key focus this year, according to people familiar with the matter, will be Android Wear. Google announced the project earlier this year, and released it to developers in beta form. It’s an extension of its mobile OS that is designed specifically for use on smartwatches and other wearable form factor devices, and we’ll almost certainly hear a lot more about it at I/O this year.
Two manufacturers are set to debut the first shipping smartwatches running Android wear this year, including Motorola and LG. Both had promised a summer launch window for these devices, which are the Moto 360 and LG G Watch, and we’ve just entered into summer technically, so we’re almost guaranteed to hear more about these at I/O, if we don’t get a full-fledged launch of both.
We’ll almost certainly get a good long look at Android Wear in a consumer-ready form, with more details and specifics on how it’ll work in terms of both basic built-in functionality and third-party support, and there will probably be a lot of attention paid to best design and development practices for the platform, given that Google and its OEM partners will be pushing for content to populate a wearable app store for the launch of consumer hardware.
Android In The Car
Apple has pushed its CarPlay infotainment integration a lot this year, and Google is expected to follow shortly with its own version. Officially announced in January, there’s not much known about the Android-powered in-car system, but already, partners including GM, Audi and Hyundai are on board and the tech is set to debut in new vehicles by the end of this year.
Google is said to be planning a full-scale announcement and reveal of its Android car efforts, which would be in keeping with its other efforts this year to highlight how Android is expanding beyond just smartphones and tablets to cover a wide range of connected hardware and software. Google is said to be planning to make its in-car system directly web-connected, with a focus on making it usable separate from your device, but also complementary to smartphones.
Android TV and Android In The Home
Google is looking to make this year’s show about Android above and beyond traditional mobile screens in general, and that means we could see updates on other projects that involve the broader Internet of Things. A couple of examples include its television efforts, which currently consist of Google TV. There’s said to be a competing Android TV initiative in development, which could break cover at this event.
Android TV is reportedly more focused on content than apps and software, as opposed to Google TV. Beyond that, not much is known about it. Google also just acquired Dropcam with its Nest division, which is quickly becoming a hub for all things connected home, and we’ll probably see them talk more about this push and its growing orbit of devices and services. Expect talk around Google’s growing stable of first-party products, but also a focus on how third-party software and device makers can get in on the action.
A new version of Android isn’t necessarily going to be launched at this year’s event, but we will probably get a taste of what’s to come. A recently revealed project called Quantum Paper looks to be set to bring a total redesign to Android software via distinct new guidelines, and Polymer is said to be a framework to hep make that happen via customizable, reusable interface elements.
These would make for a very different, significantly redesigned experience not only for Android, but for Google everywhere, on iOS and the web in addition to its own devices. Google wants to really hammer down on design this year, and Quantum plus Polymer look like the best possible candidates to help it chart a path forward. Given how much emphasis is being placed on including designers in the event this year, these are likely candidates for further announcements and explanation.
Google’s event this year will be heavy on those building software for its platforms, but it’ll also introduce a more inclusive definition of the “developer event” that extends to designers and marketers, too. Essentially, everyone involved in the process of building and selling software is meant to get something out of this year’s show, and that includes the old-fashioned developers too.
We’ll have all the action for you over the two-day event right here, including live keynote coverage on Tuesday morning.