At the time of this writing, there are only two days, 13 hours, 46 minutes and 12 seconds until the Google I/O 2012 keynote kicks off. Much like Apple did just two weeks ago, Google will take the stage at San Francisco's Moscone Center to announce this year's upcoming software (and any respective hardware) at its developers conference.
These kingpin companies prefer to keep a tight lid on most of the things they're working on – they don't want to spoil the big reveal. So we don't know exactly what they have coming, but we've got a pretty good idea … for the most part. Here are my hopes and expectations for this year's Google I/O conference:
Google Nexus tablet by ASUS
The closer we get to the conference, the more we are hearing and seeing of the alleged Nexus tablet. It is believed (we're all but 100 percent positive) it will be a 7-inch tablet manufactured by ASUS and is going to hit either at or below the $200 range with a quad-core processor by NVIDIA. Needless to say, for the price, this will be a bad piece of hardware.
But what use does Google have making a Nexus tablet? To boost its lackluster Android tablet sales. To get developers more interested in tablets? The Nexus moniker is somewhat tainted and has only met limited success – despite a hardcore following in the development community – to date. Nonetheless, we're almost certain this is the highlight device of the developers conference and attendees may walk away with an actual unit.
My fingers are crossed for you, I/O attendees!
Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
What good is new hardware without improved software to go along with it? The Jelly Bean update is also rumored to debut at the developers conference this week. (After all, it is a developers conference.) Why gather hundreds of thousands of your most dedicated developers to travel across the country (and possibly around the world) to keep your latest software advances under wraps?
Just this past week, the Jelly Bean moniker and that the Galaxy Nexus would be the first phone to run the next version of software was accidentally revealed on the Google Play Store. It could be me looking too far into it, but considering there is supposed to be a tablet debuted – most likely running the latest software, too – the wording of the slip-up in the Play Store may be more revealing than we originally thought.
Why is Jelly Bean Android 4.1 instead of 5.0? Is it just a minor software upgrade? Are there any notable features that will be debuted? Or is it just a slight modification and improvement to Ice Cream Sandwich? Google has said they are aiming for a rough schedule of one major update each year. But if Jelly Bean is just a minor update, there is reason to believe we could also see Android 5.0 later this year.
Of course, that is pure speculation. But this year's rumors don't exactly match up with last year's announcements and releases. Which takes me to my next point …
No new Nexus phones … yet
Last year, not a peep was said about the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Instead, Samsung and Google met in Hong Kong in October to make the long-rumored device official. This year, I have a feeling we could see a similar turn of events.
Why is that, exactly?
For starters, the global version of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is said (by Google, no less) to be the first phone to receive the Android 4.1 update. Usually, a new device is the first to get access to the new software, while existing devices – both Nexus and non-Nexus devices alike – get the update throughout the following months.
Google is said to be partnering with at least five manufacturers to debut its next major software version, which is actually believed to be a ploy to work closer with their recently acquired hardware manufacturer, Motorola, without upsetting other partners. Something tells me if that specific rumor is true, Google will have something bigger up its sleeve than a few Nexus phones for a minor software update that they're not even going to have first dibs on. It just doesn't seem to add up.
Assistant for legacy Android versions
The other big rumor for Google in 2012 is Project Majel, or Assistant, Google's answer to Siri. We all know Android has been capable of voice input and a few commands for some time now. But its capabilities fall short of some of Siri's features, and we all know Google isn't fond of letting Apple get the better of them, at least when it comes to features.
The project is said to be Google's big focus of 2012 and, just last week, we heard that Google just accelerated its development plans for their voice assistant. What that means is we could either see Assistant debuted (and not released) this week, or we could see Assistant released as a standalone app for all Android devices, not baked in a software update. Either way, keep your eyes peeled for Assistant next week.
Project Glass developer preview/beta
Last and easily the most intriguing project of Google's in 2012 is Project Glass. We know Google doesn't have plans to release Project Glass before 2013 (bummer, I know). But that doesn't mean they won't be willing to crowd-source some debugging or open a trial beta. They did with Chromebooks (Cr-48, anyone?). Who's to say they won't do it again with a highly-anticipated and even more awesome product?
I'm well aware that this one is a long shot, but if they're shooting for a 2013 debut, there is reason to believe they will be opening up to developers to have some third-party software support at launch, rather than launching a product with no apps or additional software for downloading.
There's a lot of speculation and anticipation leading up to the I/O keynote, and it's only two days 12 hours, 44 minutes and 22 seconds away. Tell me, readers. What do you hope Google shows off? Announces? Releases?