Last year’s Google I/O developer conference brought us our first glimpse of Android L, alongside the unveiling of Android Wear, Auto and TV. So what can we expect at I/O 2015? Here’s what the big ‘G’ may have in store
Android M is coming
Naturally the biggest and most obvious announcement will be the arrival of a new major Android release. Last year’s conference gave us the first demonstrations of Android L; the developer preview which later transformed into Android Lollipop when it formally launched to the public.
Having passed KitKat later in 2014, we’re now at ‘M’ in the alphabet of sweet treats that Google typically drawers from and whilst we may not get a final name at I/O, rumours point towards the somewhat awkwardly-sounding Macadamia Nut Cookie. As Recombu’s Tony Crammond pointed out recently, why Macaroon, Marzipan or another brand partnership with M&Ms haven’t made the cut is beyond us.
We’ve already made mention of the improved power management Android M is aiming to bring and whilst we’re not expecting a new visual style to swathe the new release, a focus on privacy and security for users seems to be the priority at this year’s I/O conference.
Closer to the likes of iOS, users will apparently be able to pick and choose which apps can leverage their location, use mobile data and access images or other files locally stored elsewhere on the device. This fine grain control sounds like a long-needed feature that will restore at least a little faith in those sceptical of the security currently in place from the platform.
In addition to software improvements, dedicated tools for fingerprint authentication are expected to become a native part of Android, more readily accommodating fingerprint sensors like the one used by the Samsung Galaxy S6. Alongside granting you access past the lock screen, these new tools will also potentially allow security on an app by app basis, ensuring your precious Google Drive documents or Google+ photos stay locked away safely when your digits aren’t around to open them up.
Photos say ‘farewell’ to Google+
Speaking of Google’s somewhat unloved social media platform, it’s assumed that lacklustre traction has lead to the company’s decision to spin off the Photos experience into a standalone service.
The rumoured Photos application will likely include many of the existing features found on Google+ like Auto-Awesome and GIF generation as well as photo cloud backup capabilities.
Android Wear’s new threads
Google pushed Android into new places last year, including your wrist; with the first examples of Android Wear. One year on and almost a dozen first-generation smartwatches later we’re hoping to see bold new capabilities from Google’s wearable OS.
The Apple Watch’s app-first user experience might have given Google some ideas when it comes to tweaking Android Wear’s current notification-first interface and if we’re really lucky, not only will the new software feel tighter and easier to interact with, but we could see demos featuring some tasty new hardware too. Moto 360 2 anyone?
Google gets serious about Cardboard
Whilst attendees at I/O 2014 might not have immediately seen the importance of the cardboard boxes hidden under their seats, (no doubt expecting free Chromebooks, tablets and phones as press from previous years had received), what turned out to be Google’s first VR product – Google Cardboard, was arguably the conference’s biggest surprise.
Whilst we’ve seen Samsung and Oculus take the concept a step further with their Gear VR headset, Google Cardboard remains one of the most accessible routes to creating virtual reality for the masses and we’re hoping the Android M development kit boasts new tools to make even cooler experiences.
Mobile payments via Android
It’s almost as though Samsung’s impatience for fingerprint sensors, VR and Samsung Pay over the last year foreshadowed some of the things many are expecting to come directly from Google at tomorrow’s conference.
Google Wallet is the company’s existing mobile payment infrastructure, but it isn’t as synonymous with consumers as Apple Pay, despite being around far longer. Tomorrow we’re expecting things to change, with new partners, easier means of payment in more markets and, as The Verge suggested, a potential rebrand in the form of ‘Android Pay’.
What are you most excited to learn about at Google I/O 2015? What sweet treat would you pick to name Android M? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.