Google's biggest day of the year is here: Google I/O! And along with fancy developer seminars with enticing names like "open-source technologies from the Hadoop ecosystem as part of your Cloud toolkit," we're also going to get some Fun Announcements. Here's what we're expecting, what we're hoping for, and what'll have to wait.
Thanks to a profile of Sundar Pichai in Bloomberg Businessweek, we now know a few things that will definitely be mentioned at Google I/O. Here are your absolute certainties:
The next named version of Android: Kit Kat 4.4 only showed up in October of last year, so it seems just a bit early to expect a whole new version of Android, but it's coming. Pichai told Businessweek the next big version will definitely appear at I/O. What form it will take exactly, is anyone's guess. It could be more beta than previous name releases given the switch-up of the release schedule. But as with all named releases, it's likely to be a bit of an overhaul.
There have been some leaks about a new set of design guidelines for Android called "Quantum Paper," and it's likely the framework for Androids next big "L" release. In addition to a visual overhaul, Quantum Paper seems angled to help/force developers to use assets that work well across platforms, making future versions of Android play nice on screens of all kinds, whether they're phone, tablet, or TV.
Beyond that we're definitely due for some more minor but still awesome improvements. So far we've heard about things like Google Nearby, which could help stalk or be stalked by your friends, and plans to bring Moto X-esque always-listening functionality to all Android phones, somehow. Hopefully we'll see both of those, along with some other surprises.
Android Wear: Google's Android Wear project is not only officially announced, but it also has two partners already on board in Motorola and LG. We've even seen one of them in action. Sundar Pichai has said that Wear will definitely make an appearance Google I/O, though in what form exactly is still up for grabs. The LG G Watch seems pretty ready for release, so perhaps it'll get gifted to I/O attendees. Or maybe we'll even see a first-party Nexus-type smartwatch. Google does own a smartwatch company after all.
Android TV: You know the saying. "If at first you don't succeed try again and again and again and again and again." Android TV is roughly Google's billionth stab at the television (alongside the still very existent, cheap, and pretty damn good Chromecast) and thanks to Pichai, we know it'll show up at I/O. Not a surprise since not only have there been leaks, but Android TV actually made a stealth appearance at CES this year. Is the Nexus Q coming back? Hahahahaha no. Is its successor getting ready backstage? There's a good chance.
Google Fit: And what good is a smartwatch if it doesn't do fitness stuff? Yes, we've heard rumors about Google Fit before, but it also just makes sense that Google would be working on fitness platform since both Apple and Samsung already are. It almost certainly wouldn't be limited to watches and fitness bands though; Google's already built a step-counter-type-thing into Google Now, and Google Fit will just be a framework for developers to grab onto that functionality and go nuts. On top of that Sundar Pichai made some comments about gadgets that take blood pressure and heart rate to Bloomberg Businessweek, which only makes this seem more certain and that Android Wear will somehow be involved.
YouTube Music: Last year we got Google Play Music All Access, which was OK but doesn't seem to have gained much traction. This year, you can expect the YouTube music service that finally, officially turns listening-to-music-on-YouTube into the Spotify competitor it already is. Maybe. While rumors of rights squabbling offer evidence that the a YouTube music service is actually close, squeezing out the indies could really shoot YouTube Music in the foot. So there might be another delay in store of if Google decides to play it smart and keep massaging its deals.
Glass for Consumers: Google Glass has been around for what feels like forever, but it still hasn't gotten its consumer release. This year's Google I/O might finally be the time. In the past couple of months, Google has reaaaaally eased up on its restrictions of who can by Glass—by eliminating them entirely—and has been pushing the tech towards more normal customers (with frames that don't like total garbage) more than ever.
Google Glass has been flailing around in the kiddie pool for long enough; it's sink or swim time. The biggest question here? How much they'll cost once Google moves past the $1500 beta.
Android Silver and the death of the Nexus: Rumors have been flying that Google's getting ready to finally put "Nexus" to bed, though more in name than in spirit. Rumored successor "Android Silver" is said to uphold the same values of the Nexus line—promoting hardware thats as close to stock Android as possible—but without necessarily anointing a single Chosen One. What this would mean for subsidies on unlocked hardware and the future of Google Play Edition devices is totally up for grabs. But be ready for a shake-up that results in more pure Google goodness on more quality hardware.
A way better version of Hangouts and the death of Google Voice: Google Voice can and should die. From its ashes will rise a better Hangouts, the Hangouts we deserve. Will it happen this I/O? It's a solid "maybe." A Voice-Hangouts merger has been on the docket every since Hangouts was born, and now Apple is offering improvements to its iMessage in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite that make Hangouts look like a real joke. Maybe this is the year Google's messaging finally gets the overhaul.
A new tablet: It's been over a year since Google release the re-designed Nexus 7, and it's been two years since the Nexus 10. There have been some leaks that a new HTC device is on the way, a 8.9-inch sucker called "Volantis" that could either be one of the last of the Nexii or the first of Android Silver. Because if the Android Silver program rumors are true, what better way to usher it in than with a (fleet of?) tablets with a Google seal of approval?
More Project Tango tech: Google's been bandying around its new, room-mapping Project Tango tech, first in a phone and more recently in a tablet. It's probably too early for any kind of consumer release but who knows, maybe we'll see the Project Tango equivalent of a Glass Explorers program.
Android@Home becoming a real boy: Android@Home, Google's big home automation push, has been floating around for ages now, but it's yet to manifest in any way that affects regular folks. Now with Nest under its belt, and Apple nipping at its heels with HomeKit, it's time for Google to put things in high gear and get the future to show up already.
A Chromecast update: We loved the Chromecast when it came out. Still do! But it hasn't done much of anything lately except slowly get a little more functionality app by app by app by app. While it could just be another project that Google forgets about and moves on from, Cast-to-Screen buttons have been showing up on Android phones for a while now, and maybe I/O is the place to take that and the beta streaming-from-a-Chrome-tab feature, and use them to propel the Chromecast to actual greatness.
What's a longshot
A self-driving car update: It wasn't too long ago that we got a peek at the new, steering-wheel-less version of Google's self-driving cars, and while I/O will be a great place to talk about them some more, we probably won't get any big news. After all, Google's hands are pretty much tied by regulators at this point.
Skynet and its robot army: Yes, Google still has its robot army, but it's probably not too keen on opening its mouth about them in favor of just talking about phones and operating systems and other fun toys. Ditto any plans for world domination.
A Nexus 6: So maybe there could be a Nexus 6 at I/O, considering that's where Nexii are often announced, but the lack of any rumors about a new Nexus plus the rumors that the Nexus line is about to be put out to pasture make it seem pretty unlikely.
A Google+ transformation: With Google+ head Vic Gundotra leaving Google, the ever-present social monster that is/was Google+ has reportedly been left effectively dead. There's a chance that Google could take this opportunity to change course, turning Google+ into something more of a hub for your services instead of a social play, like it should have been from the start. But it's more likely that it'll just stay quietly in the shadows.