Developers from around the world have booked their flights, hotels and taxis in anticipation for Google I/O 2013. Google’s international developers conference will take place at the Moscone Center (the same place Apple tends to hold its big developer event - WWDC) and is expected to serve as the stage for the company’s showcase of new hardware, software and services on the both a desktop computing and mobile front.
There’s already a schedule in place spanning the three days of the conference and one big change from previous I/Os is the switch from two main keynotes to just one. So what will it likely feature?
Android and Chrome to merge?
In previous years, Google has stretched its main keynote announcements over two days, with one event being devoted to all things Android and the other, all things Chrome; but 2013 will see all the company’s latest announcements come together in one long three-hour Google fest.
With the merger of two massive topics such as these, all taking place over one main event, it’s led many to believe that Google might be lining up a merger of the actual platforms they’re pertaining to. Cue Sundar Pichai – Google’s new head of Android and Chrome combined to set the record straight.
In his first interview with Wired since acquiring command over Android, Pichai explained that although it may make sense to some to bring both Chrome and Android under one roof, he and by association Google feels that both consumers and developers prefer services that work across a separate desktop and mobile platform, as opposed to sticking it all together; think Mac OS and iOS, both using iCloud.
Pichai stated, “At Google we ask how to bring together something seamless and beautiful and intuitive across all these (phones, tablets, computers) screens.”
Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, not 5.0 Key Lime Pie?
Knowing that for the moment Android and Chrome are remaining separate entities, it’s then a case of anticipating what lies in store for the next major release of Google’s mobile OS.
Despite Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie on the cards to serve as the next significant overhaul of Android, Google isn’t done with Jelly Bean just yet. Instead, many claim that Google I/O 2013 will serve as the stage on which Android 4.3 Jelly Bean is unveiled.
There’s also other evidence to support this idea, with AndroidCommunity picking up word from both Reddit users and AndroidPolice, who were able to unstitch the 4.3 Jelly Bean name from logs and build numbers on a smattering of existing Nexus devices in use by Google employees.
What improvements Android 4.3 will offer is a different matter. We’re still in the dark about the majority of the operating system’s new features, that is of course save for one or two key aspects which the I/O timetable has helped draw our attention to.
Google Play Games
As we discovered earlier today, the new iteration of the Google Play store has some interesting underpinnings that tie neatly into a new outlet called Google Play Games.
Just as iOS features Game Center, Android gamers will now have a way of tying together their mobile gaming experiences with friends. How the whole system will be implemented remains to be seen, but Google+ is said to be covering the social interaction aspect of it, perhaps whilst also pulling in Hangouts integration for voice or even video streams.
The new Google Play APK also detailed that matchmaking will also be possible both manually and automatically, whilst players waiting to game will also have access to some form of chat lobby.
What is Ingress?
In terms of games to debut the new service, three sessions in the I/O timetable have been marked out for ‘Ingress’ – a new location-based title from Niantic Labs that spans the whole of San Francisco.
Invitations to the game have been extended to every attendee which according to AndroidPolice came with the following message:
“We're pleased to share that all Google I/O 2013 registrants will be given an exclusive opportunity to play Ingress, the massively multiplayer geo game that was recently launched by Google's Niantic Labs and is currently in closed beta. We'll be hosting games on both Tuesday, May 14th from 4- 6PM at Moscone West (1st floor), and on Wednesday, May 15th from 7- 10PM at the I/O After Hours Party at Moscone West (3rd Floor). There will also be a major Ingress-wide game event in San Francisco the evening of Thursday, May 16th from 7- 9PM which I/O attendees are invited to participate in.
Within the next 48 hours, an Ingress code will be sent from firstname.lastname@example.org to your preferred email for I/O communications. We encourage you to set up your Ingress account in advance of the event and begin your field agent training. We'll also have staff on hand throughout I/O, starting on Tuesday, to help you make the most of this innovative mobile gaming experience.
Finally, don't miss out on the opportunity to learn more about the design vision behind Ingress in the I/O session on Wednesday, May 15th at 3:30 PM.”
What about the hardware? Full HD Nexus 7
We’ve covered a lot of the software and services Android fans can expect in a couple of days, but what about the hardware? Last year we were treated to the Google Nexus 7 tablet and the LG-made Nexus 4 smartphone (as well as the easily forgettable Nexus Q), but what sorts of devices can we expect to take the stage alongside Android 4.3?
As we’ll have to wait a little longer for Key Lime Pie to arrive, the Google Nexus 5 and/or Motorola X Phone are both presumed to be off the cards for I/O 2013. Having said that, just as we’ll likely be seeing an updated iteration of Jelly Bean, KnowYourMobile have found reports from KGI Research’s Ming-Chi Kuo regarding updates to existing hardware too.
The report claims that Asus will again be taking the reins in order produce a successor to last year’s 7-inch tablet. The new Nexus 7 is said to feature a 7-inch 1980 x 1200 resolution LTPS HD display, an additional rear-facing 5-megapixel camera, swap out the Tegra 3 quad-core chip for a Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core chip and Qi wireless charging.
White Nexus 4
The Nexus 4 may too make a re-appearance following a leaked image of the phone’s sparkly, holographic back plate, which popped up on a Filipino user’s Google+ page, swathed this time in a white.
As well as a new skin, the white Nexus 4 is rumoured to feature a new Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor, a 32GB storage option and 4G LTE.
Although this overlaps more with the Chrome aspects of the keynote, Google Glass will likely make a reappearance in conjunction with improvements to Google Now; the primary interface used by Glass. Chances are, we’ll see a fair few attendees at I/O sporting the Android-savvy headgear too as developmental units were recently released to those who’d laid down the money.
Where to watch?
If it isn’t obvious, there’s a lot to look forward to from Google over the next week, but unless you’re one of the incredibly fortunate developers on the way to San Fran, you’ll need a way to attend the main event virtually.