Here's what I'm looking forward to at Google I/O 2013Evan Selleck - Contributing Editor
Today is a big day. Even if you don’t use Android, today is a big day. This is the day that kicks off Google I/O. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here. Now we get to see what Google’s been working on behind the scenes. In the past that meant we got to see a new version of Android, and maybe even a new piece of hardware. This year, though, it sounds like Google is taking a bit of a different route, and focusing more on services.
This is a smart move, considering how “stable” Android is now. There’s no doubt in my mind that Google’s been waiting for a time like this, when Android could stand on its own both as the stock software, and not simply due to the proprietary software that their manufacturing partners have created.
Android has come a long way, and now Google’s ready to focus on the services. With the shift towards the Google Play Store, we can see that Google is pushing harder and harder for the digital storefront to rival Apple’s. Will we see an update to Google Now? Maybe. Will we see an update to Google TV? Hey, why not? It’s a party, and all of Google’s services are (potentially) invited.
But, while it’s anyone’s guess right now what Google will unveil, we don’t have much longer to wait. And the closer we get, the more excited I get. I’m excited for the rumors to finally come to fruition, or to see them wither away for another year’s event. However, I will say that the two biggest rumors that I’m excited about do seem to be the most expected at this year’s I/O.
The first is one I’ve covered briefly in the past, based on an early rumor. It was speculated that Google would be launching a gaming service, much like Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE or Apple’s GameCenter. The gritty details were all based on information pulled from files embedded with Google Glass. They outlined what could potentially be a service that is based on Xbox LIVE or GameCenter, but potentially eclipse both those services with its own feature set. Things like in-game chat, and lobbies, for instance.
It’s a bit more of a substantiated rumor now, though. New APK files were pulled from a recent update to the Google Play Store, and Google Play Games was right there, with a brand new shiny green controller for its app icon. So, it’s something that exists, but we’re still waiting to see how Google unveils it, and what it means for games that could support the platform. Or, which version of Android will support it, for that matter.
However, while I am excited about Google Play Games, I’m actually more excited for something else. This new service focuses on music.
You’ve undoubtedly heard the rumors before now. They’ve been a dime-a-dozen over the last year or so. Google had its sights set on launching its own streaming music service. But as things would have it, business would get in the way, and Google would find trouble getting deals with record labels. It’s a similar story to Apple’s, in fact. But apparently Google has figured it out.
According to a report yesterday from The Verge, citing sources close to the company, Google’s gearing up to announce their streaming music service at I/O this year. They are able to do this, finally, because they sealed up specific deals with Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment recently. These new deals are focused on licensing deals for both YouTube and Google Play, and it means that Google’s signed up the “Big Three,” as it reportedly “bagged” a deal with Warner Music Group earlier in the year.
So, essentially, the hard part is over for Google. Now all their planning, which they’ve undoubtedly been doing, can see the light of day. And if this new report is right, and Google is going to unveil it at I/O, well, that’s just ridiculously exciting.
It’s exciting to me, mostly, because it isn’t reportedly a service similar to Pandora, or Slacker, which acts like traditional radio stations, playing random music. (But giving you the ability to skip, among other things, mind you.) That type of service is rumored to be what Apple is gearing up to launch, if they, too, can ink deals with the major record labels. No, Google is looking to compete with services like Rdio and Spotify, which means you’ll be able to build your music library, and pay a monthly subscription cost to get as much music as you want.
I love this idea, as long as the service itself offers features that are equal, if not better, than what’s already out there. The application has to be worth using, too, for that matter. These little details will matter, even for the diehard Android and Google users, because services like Rdio and Spotify are so engrained in a lot of people’s daily life. So it will be interesting to see how Google competes, after such a distinct head start by these other applications.
Are you excited to see what Google announces at I/O? What are you most excited to see? A new music service, like Spotify, or a new gaming platform? Or are you excited about something else? Let me know!
image via Android Police