Google I/O tonight: 7 reasons why its set to be the most exciting ever

Apple kickstarted June with some massive announcements including HealthKit and HomeKit at WWDC, and now Google is all set to respond at the I/O conference to be held starting today evening India time.

Just like Apple, Google is also betting big on health and home, among other things, but don't be overwhelmed? What are the headlining acts of I/O this year? Here's a quick look at the seven announcements that we are most excited about

Home automation There is enough evidence that points towards Google's smarthome automation system in the making. As the year kicked off, the Search giant announced its big acquisition to enter your homes with Nest Labs, and recently along with Nest it bought video security startup DropCam. With Dropcam in its kitty, Google could expand further into home security and automation, by tying in actions and activities to specific movements, such as turning on lights when you enter the room and native on-device notifications for important alerts, pretty much explaining why Google wants to own DropCam.

Nest holds great potential for Google

Google's move is eventually about diving deeper into home security and staying at par with Apple. So, brace yourselves for some big home automation announcements on similar lines at I/O this week. Afterall, Google will want to move into the 'Internet of Things' space, with connected accessories taking care of the home automation just like Apple. Earlier this month, Apple announced Homekit that will allow users to connect their iPhone/iPad and control their lights, garage-door, security cameras and even thermostats and switches.

Android Wear and wearables We expect Google to finally give us a closer look at the Android Wear - the company's vision for a smartwatch. The device brings the refinement of Google's card-based design language and the power of Google Now inwhat looks and sounds like a fantastic product. Stirred by rumours of the upcoming iWatch, Google plans to do what it's best at - team up with several OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and pump out as many smartwatches as possible.

We've already got a glimpse of Android Wear. It looks like Google Now shrunk down to work and fit on a smaller device which is not as powerful as a full-fledged Android phone. In that sense, Android Wear is an extension of Google Now, with Google Cloud Notification acting as a second pillar. It will also have all the relevant sensors to deliver fitness-related data that are an now considered to be an indispensable aspect of wearables.

Google Now's card-based UI translated for a smaller screen

Smartwatches Given that theDeveloper Preview for Android Wear was made available in March, we can expect a slew of Android Wear devices in the new future. LG, Motorola, Asus, Samsung, HTC, Intel, Qualcomm, Fossil and MediaTek have all signed up as hardware and manufacturing partners for Android Wear and we are likely to see an array of Android-powered smartwatches this year. Of these, LG and Motorola are expected to launch the G Watch and Moto 360 at the Google I/O respectively.

The LG G Watch running Android Wear is likely to sport a 1.6 inch display with a resolution of 280 X 280 pixels. It will get a storage capacity of 4GB that can be expanded further up to 32GB via microSD card slot. It is powered by a quad-core 787 MHz Snapdragon 400 processor coupled with 512 MB of RAM, and a 400mAh battery that promises 36 hours of standby time. Just like the Samsung Gear series, it supports Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. The smartwatch also features tilt, gyro and pedometer sensors that will assist when using fitness apps. Moreover, G plans to add a champagne gold variant along with its black and white models.

LG's G Watch is a more conventional looking smartwatch

There is also the possibility of Google unveiling the Moto 360, the stylish and classic circular-shaped watch. While specs-wise, we don't know much about the Moto 360, we do know that it is expected to be launched at a competitive price.

This doesn't mean, Google and Samsung, who've helped each other make millions of dollars, have decided to part ways. In fact, the Google I/O is also expected to see a Samsung smartwatch running Android Wear. According to sources, the smartwatch will be on similar lines to the company's Gear lineup. The company is in fact, believed to be working on two models of an Android Wear smartwatch - one using Samsung's own chip and another powered by a Qualcomm chip. However, there is no clarity on which one of these models the company plans to showcase at the Google I/O.

Google Fit We know most of these smartwatches will come fitted with sensors to track certain health and fitness functions. Now, it is also known that the search giant is building a platform calledGoogle Fit at the core of its health based products. Samsung unveiled theSami platform last month and Apple recently announced the HealthKit at WWDC, so it's quite likely that Google will announce the Google Fit heath service at the I/O. Google Fit is designed to collect and aggregate data from other fitness trackers and health-related apps. The most recent report says that Google Fit 'would allow a wearable device that measures data like steps or heart rate to interface with Google's cloud-based services, and become part of the Google Fit ecosystem.'

While Google has got most things sorted on the mobile front and there will be evolutionary announcements on the Android OS front, there is one area where Google has not tasted as much success as it would love to - the TV platform. In short, Google has not yet cracked the TV platform, yet. The big question is - will this year be any different. After the failed attempt at Google TV, the search giant is now expected to launch Android TV, its newest platform that is touted to some with simple interface, universal search across apps and more. Android TV will have a horizontal set of scrolling cards which represents different kinds of content - TV shows, movies, apps and games. With Android TV, Google is also looking at attracting casual gamers.

Take a look at the five things you need to know about Android TV.

Leaked image showing Android TV

Needless to say, there will be a lot of Android-related announcements. Android has become a lynchpin for Google's services and it will once again be the focal point for consumers and users.

ART Runtime has a full session, indicating that the big switch from Dalvik runtime may not be all that far away. ART was brought on board with Android KitKat as an option with Dalvik. It's been said that ART will completely replace Dalvik in the future. Considering that most rumours are talking about a major Android UI revamp, this I/O may see the end of Dalvik and a shift to ART as default.

Where apps are concerned, Google has planned activities and sessions around UI and UX design, improving camera software performance and possibly a new camera API, game design, app monetisation and the likes. Android design is expected to change, so a lot of the sessions will delve into redesigning apps to match the new look.

As far as devices are concerned, we may be officially introduced to the so-called Android Silver programme and may hear about the end of the Nexus line, though it may not be fully dead yet.

Google Glass

With its dedicated session to wearable computing, Google could also talk about the Glass along with smartwatches. Earlier this year, the Explorer Edition was made available in the US as a one-day limited offer, but after a good response, it was made available to everyone in the US. Now, the company has taken a step towards expanding the reach of the Glass, which means we can expect the device to go global gradually as the year unfolds. Moreover, looks like Google is looking to turn the Glass into a fashion accessory. It has already teamed up with DVF, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg's studio for its newest range of Google Glass designs. Google has also partnered with Luxottica, which means Ray-Ban and Oakley-branded frames and shades for the Glass should eventually surface.

Google has also planned a sandbox session called, 'Cast-Enable Your Application,' so there will be greater focus on Chromecast. And we could finally see some kind of a store front for Cast apps.

Moreover, there are multiple Chrome OS and Chrome broswer sessions planned, with focus on building Chrome apps, making cross-platform apps and developing using some of Google's new tools for the Web platform. Chrome OS could see a UI and UX overhaul in keeping with the new line of touch-enabled Chromebooks.


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