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Google I/O 2013: what to expect

April 25, 2013 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

The official unveiling of Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie will be just the tip of the iceberg at I/O 2013…

San Francisco’s Moscone Center is most famous in technology circles for hosting Apple’s major keynotes but, just as Android gazumped the iPhone revolution, it seems Google I/O may now be the most interesting event at the venue. I/O 2013 will run from 15 – 17 May and takes place just 11 months after the 2012 conference brought us Jelly Bean 4.1, Project Butter, Google Now, Chrome for iOS, the Nexus 7 and Project Glass.

In 2013 expectations are equally high and with leaks and rumours stockpiling it is time to round up our expectations for what promises to be one of the highlights of the technology calendar.

Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie
Whatever else Google announces, nothing will grab the headlines like the next major version of Android. While we will deal with some of the key functionality for version 5.0 in the sections below, the overriding question is whether an ‘evil Android’ will finally compromise openness in favour of greater control.

The biggest hint comes this week from Motorola with executives confirming Google’s influence will see its next handsets released with stock Android, while Google itself is expected to further push its Nexus brand at mainstream consumers. Google CEOs have also been increasingly vocal about issues of Android fragmentation and, while networks have been partly responsible for this, the growing trend for major partners like Amazon, Samsung and most recently Facebook to fork Android for their own ends could finally see Google fight back.


Google Babble
With leaks abound this unified messaging system it looks nailed on to make its first appearance at Google I/O 2013. Babble is expected to unite Chat, Talk, Voice and Google Plus communication into a single service with the same conversations and features available everywhere. Furthermore talk of a Google bid for WhatsApp earlier in the month suggests the company has plans to go toe-to-toe with Apple’s iMessage and BlackBerry Messenger long term.

Interestingly Babble is also said to incorporate notification syncing, a long overdue feature that dismisses notifications on all your devices once they are checked on one. Given the growing number of smart devices we carry, hopefully this will encourage other services (we’re looking at you Facebook) to follow suit. Incidentally it is unknown at this stage whether ‘Babble’ will be the final name for the new service (we hope not), but we don’t have to wait long to find out.


New Nexus 7
With annual and even bi-annual product life cycles now the norm a new Nexus 7 tablet is certain to grace us next month. The original Nexus 7 was announced at Google I/O 2012 and proved a breakthrough device given its remarkable price point. This time around the new Nexus 7 is expected to gain a super high resolution screen like the Nexus 10 and faster quad core Qualcomm chipset while shedding the pounds and reducing the size of its bezel. Talk is the new Nexus 7 will come in at the same $199 price as the current model, though a $149 RRP has been mooted along with rumours that the original Nexus 7 will continue to be sold for just $99.

Nexus 5/Motorola X Phone
The tech world seems split over what new handsets Google may have for us at I/O 2013, but there is consensus we will see something to show off Key Lime Pie. Motorola’s next-generation handsets, most notably the fabled ‘X Phone’ (supposed render, right) is widely tipped as is a Nexus 5 with 5-inch 1080p display.

The latter would seem premature given the Nexus 4 only launched in November though the former would provide a fine stage for Motorola’s increasingly hyped new handset and confirm the successful Googlefication of the company with the world’s press watching. We expect any handsets unveiled will update seamlessly to new Android versions as Google looks to send a message.

Google Game Center
Game Centre may be one of the worst-looking services on iOS, but its ability to unite iPhone, iPad and iPod touch gamers and simplify multiplayer gaming across these devices is beyond doubt. Hints that Google is about to follow in Apple’s footsteps broke only this week… This is a sample, to read more about Android’s answer to Game Center along with major announcements planned for Google Glass, Google Now and the Nexus 4, Nexus 10 and Nexus Q click here for the full feature @ TrustedReviews

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6 Responses to “Google I/O 2013: what to expect”
  1. DMG says:

    Hi Gordon,
    You asked me on a TR thread what I thought would be coming at Google I/O this year.
    Obviously I have no idea, and all your guesses sound fair.

    However, as someone who only now has finally understood the Chrome OS strategy, I think that this will also be part of Google I/O. Further, once I got it, I had to sit back and think: This is extremely ambitious and if they get it right, extremely powerful.

    Psssst. If you respond to this with “..but it doesn’t run native apps”, then you’re missing a big piece of the puzzle in your assessment :-)


  2. Gordon says:

    Hey DMG, good to see you make it over to my site.

    To be honest I think Google has surprised everyone with I/O this year given the lack of Android 4.3/5.0 and any Nexus hardware.

    That said they are easily released later in the year. What excites me about yesterday’s announcements, however, is they all unify Google products. Rather than giving phone makers another firmware update to work on (while they already struggle to get to 4.2) the features are universal: upgradeable core apps, gaming platforms, streaming music services, mapping, unified messaging and enhanced developer tools for everyone on Android. Whether Android can be truly unified is still up in the air, but this was a launch about bringing the disparate parts of Google closer together rather than widening the gap.

    I’ll be writing an editorial about it later :)

  3. DMG says:

    I guess it was kind of foolish not to actually LOOK at Google I/O before writing that response.
    I’m not much of a groupie. I’m happy to find out about things with a bit of lag.

    Anyways, talking about Chrome OS. I was shocked to hear such a praised review by Jason Calacanis in ThisWeekIn. Here’s the clip at the right time


    But immediately the natural response is, what about all the native apps you need? Then it dawned on me that the Pixel DOES support native apps. That is what NativeClient is all about.


    ..a bit of searching revealed I wasn’t the only one understanding Google’s plans here.

    …the games launched on this new technology is also already promising.

    So it turns out Chrome OS is really about Native, just with a safer, sandboxed and unusual twist.
    With the distinct (initial) failure that is Windows 8, demonstrating that there is a real divide between touch & production suites, Chrome OS may really be a unique offering from Google, than can offer both production and safety from Viruses/malware/slowness that traditional operating systems suffer from WITH the ability to port native apps over.

  4. Gordon says:

    Exactly. And Chrome OS is the dedicated building blocks for ultimately rolling all that browser and web standards based goodness into Android so you get the best of both worlds.

    Google demoed a simple, multiplayer racing game running across web browsers in Android phones and tablets and iPhones and iPads. That kind of platform free concept is the future once data speeds are both reliable and fast enough.

    Of course this idea is what Firefox’s entirely mobile OS is built around so there is some momentum.

  5. DMG says:

    This is where the x86 vs ARM divide still becomes an issue. I doubt that QuickOffice for Chrome will work in Chrome for Android, for example. Still, having it as an Android App on the one and Chrome App on the other, is not a bad compromise (with very little development work). When this comes to be, the HTML5 crowd won’t exactly be happy. Always some winners and losers.

  6. Gordon says:

    Well Android works on both x86 and Chrome so it shouldn’t be a problem.

    Larry Page’s Q&A was excellent yesterday, well worth hunting down. And he took a few jabs about standards too: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57584678-93/larry-page-disses-microsoft-for-milking-google-for-its-own-benefit/ (admittedly after Google just forked WebKit!)

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