Google will offer the world a peek at its future this week during its annual technology conference, Google I/O. Though the event is geared towards software developers, Google often uses the conference to unveil big new consumer products—Google Glass got its first public demo at the 2012 conference, and Google’s paid music streaming service debuted last year.
There’s no way to know exactly what Google has planned for this year's I/O, but we can make some educated guesses. Here’s a guide on what to expect from the 2014 Google I/O conference, which begins Wednesday:
Google will likely put its operating system for smartwatches and other wearable devices front and center this year. Android Wear, announced in March, is a version of Google's Android operating system fine-tuned for watches and wearables. It's expected to incorporate digital assistant software Google Now and accept voice commands, among other features.
The development kit for Android Wear hasn’t yet been released, so it’s likely that programmers will get their first crack at the software during Google I/O. Google's also likely to demo the first consumer watches to use the software, such as LG's upcoming G Watch or Motorola's Moto 360.
Android in the Car
Google doesn’t just want Android on your wrist—the company eventually wants its software on virtually every device you interact with -- and cars will be one of Google's first targets. Google announced a partnership with automakers such as Honda, General Motors and Audi earlier this year to bring Android software to their vehicles. The fruits of this deal may finally be unveiled this week.
YouTube’s Music Service
At last year's Google I/O, the company unveiled the unfortunately named Google Play Music All Access, a subscription-based music streaming service similar to Spotify. Since that time, though, Google subsidiary YouTube has quietly been working on its own paid music service. The YouTube service was originally slated for release early this year, but it's been pushed back partially because of tense negotiations with record labels. But the project is far enough along now that Google has begun letting its employees test the service. Now might be the time to let the broader world take a peek.
Google will reportedly use I/O to debut its own health tracking app, called Google Fit. According to Forbes, Google Fit will gather data from various fitness and wellness apps, and it'll be able to link up with other services in the Google ecosystem. The idea is hardly new—Apple recently announced its own health software, called HealthKit, which will launch later this year as part of iOS 8. But many of the big players in tech seem to be betting that high-quality fitness software may help spur the adoption of wearable devices.
Google has been trying to finagle its way into the world of television for a while. Google TV, a platform for smart TVs, failed to gain wide adoption, while its Chromecast streaming stick has been more successful. The next attempt may be Android TV, a set-top box similar to Apple TV or Roku that would let users easily switch between streaming apps from companies like Netflix and ESPN. Though rumors about Android TV have persisted for months, it’s not clear how Google would differentiate the product significantly from Chromecast, which already supports a variety of video apps.
Glass has been getting a serious push from Google this year, with promotional short films and ads starring tennis star Roger Federer. The company will likely show off some new apps for the headgear, and perhaps even reveal a timetable for broader distribution of the devices. People can currently buy Glass in the U.S. and the UK through Google’s website, but the product is still in beta.