Google’s annual I/O software developer event kicks off next week. It’s traditionally the place where we learn about the company’s plans for Android with guest appearances made by every service in the Alphabet. Google I/O is the place that launched Google Glass, for example, and Google TV, Android Pay, Google Music, Google Photos, Google Now, and the ill-fated Nexus Q music streamer to name just a few. It’s an event not to be missed by fans — not just of Google, but of technology in general. Where Apple plays its R&D cards close to the chest, Google lays them right out on the table and then shoots them to the moon.
This year’s I/O will be a little different since we’ve already seen a developer preview for Android N (Nerds? Nutella? Nougat?). But Google’s said that it has a few surprises to come. One of which will be apps that take advantage of built-in support for pressure-sensitive screens. Though that might come later than originally expected.
We’re still waiting for Google to reveal its new, smarter messaging app rumored since last year. A service fueled by AI, that’s capable of connecting you to friends or all-knowing bots. Why not do it at I/O.
An Android VR headset followup to Cardboard is also a possibility. The rumored stand-alone headset is said to function like Samsung’s Gear VR but supports a wider array of smartphones. It’s performance is said to slot somewhere between the Gear VR and high-end rigs like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. There’s also Tango, a 3D mapping technology that Google wants to make "ubiquitous." Think Google Maps but for navigating inside buildings and in VR.
There’s also a chance that we’ll hear more about modular hardware from Google’s oft-delayed Ara initiative. Failing that, maybe we’ll see if Lenovo’s new Moto X does indeed feature a smart connector on the backplate. Or how about the next Nexus devices, dubbed M1 and S1 from HTC? And isn’t it time we heard more about Project Aura now that the Google Glass successor has found a new home?
We’ve also got the longstanding rumor / hope that Android and Chrome OS will merge or at least heavily blur the line between the two. And what better place to demonstrate this than on a new Chromebook Pixel or Pixel C.
And maybe, just maybe, we’ll get an update on Android Auto and Google’s self-driving car initiative — after all, last month it was "close to graduating" from Alphabet’s X lab.
But really, anything could happen during the two-hour keynote on Wednesday the 18th. These are just my best guesses based upon current rumors. Which one has you most excited?
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