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May 25, 2015

Google I/O 2015 preview: What we expect from Google this year

google io 2015

Google I/O 2015 is almost here. Starting the morning of May 28, I/O is two days packed full of new Android and Google goodies. The schedule has been announced for the event, but it doesn’t give us much to go on. There will be some new stuff surrounding Android for kids and families, a Google Fit session, Google Analytics, and Material Design sessions, but what is really coming from Google at this year’s I/O? Here’s our take on what we expect to see.

Android M

Lollipop was announced just last October, but speculation is that Google will be announced Android M already. The follow up to 5.0 Lollipop, Android M should be mostly bug fixes and enhancements over its predecessor. We don’t expect it to me anything groundbreaking. Android Lollipop sure could use some spit and polish, and Android M should bring that to us. There are a few new features that we could see in M, however.

Google is said to be readying a universal fingerprint authentication feature that will streamline the method that OEMs and app developers use with their biometric fingerprint scanners. This should provide devs and manufacturers an easier way to implement fingerprint scanning and use it for authentication purposes.

Android M could also bring us better control over app permissions with the re-introduction of advanced permission controls. These controls would let you fine tune which permissions each app has, either when it’s installed or later on. Changing app permissions can cause problems if it’s not handled properly, making this a touchy thing for Google to offer to users. We’ll see how it turns out. In addition to these security controls, there may be Smart Lock changes and more Android for Work integration baked into the M update. Additional features for parents and kids could be also be baked into Android M. Google seems to be focusing on security and enterprise integration, in addition to some much needed bug fixes and OS tweaks.

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Android Wear and Google Fit

Google Fit and Android Wear will see some love this year. New Android Wear hardware could be unveiled, and something having to do with smart socks has been teased by the Google team. That means new wearables. Motorola might have the second generation Moto 360 for us, and Tag Heuer is working on a Wear watch that might break cover. In fact, we’ll almost surely see new Wear hardware and watches. The 5.1.1 update for Android Wear is already rolling out to devices with added functionality, so we probably won’t see new Wear firmware announced. The platform will continue to grow.

Android Pay

Google Wallet is going to be folded into the new Android Pay platform, a unified payments service that will take on Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. Google envisions this as a platform that manufacturers and developers can use to make mobile payments easier. Google Wallet certainly isn’t dead, and Android Pay could be the backbone of your mobile payments in the very near future.

Android Auto

Android Auto is just beginning to make an appearance in vehicles and is now available via third-party head units. There is a session focused on helping devs get their apps working with Android Auto, but we don’t know anything else at this point. Google’s automobile platform will continue to evolve. It also continues to face many hurdles on its way to widespread adoption.

Android TV and Google Cast

Android TV will see some action this year at I/O, with sessions focusing on building out global search as well as gaming. The platform itself shouldn’t many changes, but the focus is on building it out. In addition to Android TV, the new-ish Google Cast platform is getting some attention. Gaming and making games easier to use with Google Cast is the point of focus right now. Mobile gaming is still an incredible area of opportunity, and tying that to Cast offers Google another point of entry into your home.

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ATAP

One of the most exciting things that Google is working on is Project ARA. This comes from the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) department. We should be coming close to a public beta release of ARA hardware. That may make an appearance I/O 2015. Project Tango does get a session this year, focuses on mobile 3D tracking and perception. This doesn’t really provide us with any more information than we already knew about Tango. I’m most excited about ARA and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we get some more information and maybe even a glimpse at updated hardware.

Android Home

Android Home doesn’t get mentioned by name, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t see it at I/O. There is a Nest session on Day Two. We’re hearing rumors about something called “Brillo” which is a brand new platform that Google is using for its Internet-of-Things. Google might even tie Wear, Home, Auto, and IoT together under this new name. At the very least, each of these platforms could talk to each other and share information. Nest and Dropcam will likely factor into this as well. Getting more information about us and our homes is a huge focus for Google.

New Photo Service

We’ve been hearing rumors of a new Photo app for a bit, and we’re likely to see that this week. The new Photo service and app will break your photos free of Google+, giving them their own home outside of Google’s dying social network. Let’s be honest; no one really wants to go through Google+ to get to their photos. We don’t know much at all about it, and it may simply be a new app and web interface for your pictures.

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Virtual Reality

Google seemed to poking fun at VR with Cardboard, but it’s actually a big deal. There’s a session on Day Two that focuses on designing for VR. We’ll probably see an upgraded Cardboard or even some actual hardware. Google is also rumored to be working on a virtual reality platform, kind of like Android Wear is for wearables. Hardware advancements like those from HTC make Android VR a very interesting and high-profile platform.

Other Stuff

We could get new Google Glass hardware, although that’s not likely. Google ended the Glass Explorer beta back in January. Nest co-founder Tony Fadell took over the project then, but there hasn’t been enough time to rework that yet. It’s the same thing with any new Nexus devices. We won’t see anything new on that front at I/O either.

Google has a way of surprising us. They may drop something totally unexpected. Google I/O 2015 kicks off on May 28, so we don’t have long to wait.

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Jeremiah Nelson

Jeremah lives in Virginia, on the east coast of the U.S. He loves Android and is versed in iOS. In his spare time you’ll find him flashing ROMs and listening to metal.