[Update: Google IO 2015 Livestream video at the end of the post]
Lo and behold, Google IO 2015 is here! It will be starting today at 10PM IST and let me assure you that you don’t want to miss it at any cost if you have even 1% of geek in you. It’s gonna be a good 2.5 hour keynote which makes me restless to guess what all goodies will we see tonight unveiled by none other than Mr Sundar Pichai.
Last year in Google IO 2014, we saw the launch of Android L(we know it’s Lollipop now), Android Wear (inception of Smart-watches), Android Auto (to droidify your car), Android TV (reattempt leading to nothing) and Chromecast mirroring. All in all, last year’s event was a blasting success. It became witness to how Google is trying to tie all of its endeavours together, ending a bit of its much-hated fragmentation.
I am listing down my Top 10 predictions (or more of assumptions and guesswork really) about what will be unveiled this time in Google IO 2015 happening in Moscone West in San Francisco, based on the development work they have carried out last year analysed with a pinch of rumours and obvious periodic announcements. Google has been busy with the secret lab works on Chrome OS, virtual reality, and its Project Fi cellular service. So let’s get it on..
Top 10 predictions for Google IO 2015:
#1 Android M?!
Marshmellow? MGM? Macadamia Nut Cookies?!
HA! This get crazier every year. No points for guessing but Android M would be next iterative version of Google’s latest and greatest mobile os – Android. We have seen some leaked docs and papers with Android M code name as Macadamia Nut Cookies! But we all know that may not be the case when big G will unveil it as KLP was used for Kitkat and LMP for Lollipop which never turned out to be same.
So, what will be new with Android M! Well, we can’t be too sure but I think improving battery life is something Google will have planned to improve. Along with that, we can see some further refinement on Material design UI after Lollipop UI overhaul. We did see this message leak in the Agent on Google IO website:
Android M is bringing the power of Android to all kinds of workplaces. This opens huge new markets for hundreds of millions of devices to workers at small businesses, deskless workers, logistics and warehousing jobs …
So, Work may be the central point. I am also hoping Google may introduce some of safety features to ensure that user has proper control over the privacy (viz what app can access data like location, contacts, photos, internet etc.). As of now, all we see is what all permission does app needs while installing from Play store. I really liked the implementation in Xiaomi’s MIUI where you can individually choose and alter the permissions at a given time.
#2 Fingerprint support baked into the core of OS
Well, lets accept it. After Apple launched TouchID (fancy name for Fingerprint scanner) with iPhone 5s, alot of manufacturers rushed in and implemented the same on Hardware lever. This is where things messed up. Being a user of Apple iPhone 6 myself, I really appreciate the way TouchID really like a thoroughly thought and implemented features as it integrates to almost anything which may need authentication. On the other hand, Phone’s like Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8 Max etc which implemented the fingerprint scanner hardware felt like a half-baked approach as the functionality was too constrained and didn’t felt universal.
I am hoping Android M will bring deep-level support for Fingerprint scanning which will let users log into apps like Gmail and Google Drive with the touch of the thumb.
#3 Android Wallet + *Dark Magic* = Android Pay
Ever since Samsung showcased Samsung Pay with Galaxy S6, I have wondered that how long till the Google decides to incorporate something similar in base of their own OS and yes they did have it as Android Wallet but it lacked universal compatibility. Samsung saw the opportunity and went for it resulting in perfect execution of how traditional payment alternative methods should be.
If Google decides to go this route, they will need to make sure that they get put some extra effort to get some major retailers on board that too around the world.
#4 Project Fi
Project Fi is one of the most intriguing Google news for this year. Let’s see how google puts it:
Project Fi is a program to deliver a fast, easy wireless experience in close partnership with leading carriers, hardware makers, and our users!
Sounds simple right? Nope! It layman language, Google is now a kickass mobile phone carrier! Yes, I know, for now it’s exclusive to Nexus 6 only but their plan for “pay-for-what-you-use” phone service that seamlessly hops between Wi-Fi and two major US networks (Sprint and T-Mobile). I can’t see why they won’t pursue it further by releasing some low cost Android One devices with Project Fi to expand the reachability because hey! Nexus 6 is pricey ($650).
#5 Android Wear
Its been exact one year since Google introduced Android Wear, home baked fork of Android OS designed especially to adore your smartwatches. It was accepted fairly well by the users and we have seen a lot of new Android wear devices from Lg, Sony, Moto and even Huawei. We may see some new hardware but I am expecting some serious progress on software side. Apple proved once again with Apple Watch that how well their software binds with the hardware.
Android Wear suffered with poor battery life and limited use case and dependency on your smartphone. Although in last few month we did see a lot of new apps for Android Wear. Let’s hope Google brings something different on table than it already is.
#6 Android Auto
Similar to Android Wear, Android Auto was also announced last year. It promised the system which is designed to provide a more distraction-free interface that allows you to select a music playlist, check traffic conditions and get directions, all using a voice interface. Google launched Open Automotive Alliance (OAA) with major carmakers including Hyundai, Audi, GM, Honda as well as Nvidia. But now after one year we haven’t seen much of compatible head units and neither we have a lot of phones running on lollipop.
I think Android Auto may also be launched as a standalone app which will be integrated with Google Now so that you can use your favorite head unit you want in your car and pair the device with it as especially buying an exclusive/premium head unit or a car is not very practical.
#7 Custom Android UI for VR?
Virtual Reality! It’s really one of the hottest topic on 2015. Microsoft showcase their HoloLens in Build 2015 and proved that they still can be cool and surprise people. There was a never before like enthusiasm in all the developers and tech-journalists which is usually seen in Apple events. With Facebook buying Oculus Rift, Sony working on their own VR device, GoPro also in the line, it’s time we see a custom-built android os made from grounds up especially for VR devices. There is a huge gap in the area as every VR hardware device manufacturer is making their own custom software. There is no general OS suited for VR. Google did amuse us with Google Cardboard.
Google IO 2015 will clear the air if Google is actually serious about exploring the VR horizons or Cardboard remains a fun project forever.
Also, with Google Glass project no more, could we see a Glass 2015 edition as a surprise and a comeback to Microsoft’s HoloLens? That remains to be seen.
#8 Project ARA for real!
Over the last year we have had plethora of news for Project ARA with plenty of leaks and sneak peaks. We saw a prototype device too in last year’s IO. I am hoping Google may showcase some serious project this year with a fully functional prototype/semi-finished product, and maybe even allow developers to get their hands on it.
It may still be a distant future before we see a totally modular smartphones where you can simply swap old processor for a new one or maybe upgrade the camera by replacing the shell. Google said on the record that they aim to sell Project ARA for pretty low price to put one in everyone’s pocket.
#9 Internet of Things
“The Internet of Things (IoT) is a scenario in which objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.”
Imagine a future where all your appliances and devices are connected to your smartphone so that if you enter home from outside in Summers, so based on your body temperature, your smartphone will switch on the AC and send a command to Refrigerator to make some ice and lower the temperature so as to chill that Heineken in the door. 😉 Sounds cool eh?
Yep! This is future. With advancements in Smart Watches, Bands, Mobile devices, Automobile connect to the network and continuously syncing data in background with processors analysing it to give meaning full data. There were a rumour or two that google is planning to connect all your household appliances like Televisions, AC, even your water motor to the network so that you can get alerts, reports on your smartphone and be updated about all of them. We may also see Google Home automation speaker as a comeback to Amazon’s Echo.
#10 New Devices!
As much as a developer centric event Google IO is, still Mountain view giant is notorious for handing some new devices to attendees to check out their newest goodies running on their latest and greatest software. Some of the devices which we may see getting unwrapped:
- Nexus 8 (A new segment tablet?
- Chromecast 2 (a possible spec upgrade to successful Chromecast)
- Motorola Moto 360 (2nd Gen/2015) – Most awaited! Let’s hope we get a fully circular display this time.
- Google Home automation speaker (Amazon Echo competitor?)
- Google Fi Phone (Affordable Android One smartphone)
- Google Fit Clip (Fitbit competitor)
- Google Glass (2015) (with huge packet of salt)
- Google Plastic (it’s like Cardboard, but made out of plastic this time around)
Google IO 2015 Livestream: