What to Expect at Google I/O: Beyond mobile… and reality
This week the eyes of the technology industry are all on Google’s annual developer conference – Google I/O occurring from 18-20 May. The first conference since the creation of Alphabet has a brand new outdoor home – Shoreline Amphitheatre in San Francisco.
While tech blogs are already awash with rumours, I’d like to share some areas to look out for.
Going beyond the smartphone…
The developer’s release of the latest Android N Operating System in March – usually the star of Google I/O – hints that the focus this year will be on expanding this ecosystem into a wide range of devices.
As mature smartphone markets are reaching saturation, Google is pursuing new revenue growth opportunities by expanding the reach of its platforms in cars, wearables, connected home solutions and more.
Google might also bring Android and its Chrome operating system closer together to create a more seamless consumer experience across different mobile computing devices.
In addition, another new development might be a competitor to Amazon’s ‘Echo’: a smart voice activated search assistant in a box for the home that links with Google services. Using the same technology as the Google Now intelligent advisor, a Wi-Fi enabled product could connect and control a user’s entire Google ecosystem – from TVs to home heating.
… And beyond reality!
I expect more from Google on virtual and augmented reality, there are a number of sessions at on the subject at the event and this is a hot area where Google needs to take a more prominent role.
Microsoft, Facebook and Samsung have stolen the limelight in this area recently so I am certain of a reaction from Google. I expect to see both hardware – potentially a new VR headset providing better experience than Cardboard – and, most importantly, a new Android VR platform announcement at Google I/O. We will also learn more about Google’s Project Tango technology and likely more about the first device from Lenovo that will carry the technology. Tango uses a 3D-sensing camera to create a 3D map of a room that can then be overlaid with content.
Tango has initial applications in indoor mapping, 3D virtual models of homes and home makeovers for real estate, and gaming. This kind of augmented reality represents a natural progression of Google’s core search business and critical technological addition to Google’s assets.