Google I/O 2012: What to Expect

Tomorrow, at the Moscone Center in San Fransisco, Google kicks off Google I/O, its annual developers conference. The conference will be full of workshops and sessions for developers but it will also play host to several expected announcements that will intrigue consumers as well.

At 9:30am sharp, Google executives will take the stage and likely take the wraps on some of the new hardware and software that the company has worked on. And while the company hasn’t announced anything specific yet, we already have a good idea about what those products might be.

Google I/O 2012 is particularly important for a number of reasons. One, Apple just announced iOS 6 which will arrive this fall with a number of new features including a new Maps application that will replace Google Maps, new features for its voice controlled personal assistant Siri, and more.

In addition, Microsoft just announced Windows Phone 8, its ambitious new mobile effort that will be arriving on Windows Phone devices this fall. Windows Phone 8 is Microsoft’s most ambitious mobile software effort yet and it’s one that might propel it closer to both Android and iOS. So, it’s important that Google makes a splash during its keynote tomorrow.

That being said, here is a look at what mobile users should expect to go down at tomorrow’s Google I/O 2012 keynote address.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

Possible Features

One of the centerpieces of tomorrow’s announcement will surely be Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. We’ve seen the Jelly Bean sculpture appear on Google’s campus today and last week, Google’s own website outed the software as coming soon to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

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So, given those two pieces of information, it would be odd not to see something about Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the operating system that will take the place of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, announced tomorrow.

Unfortunately, details remain scarce, even as we sit a day away from Google I/O.

Earlier in the year, Jelly Bean was believed to bring capabilities to Android similar to what Motorola had developed for its Lapdock with the Webtop UI. It’s unclear if that will still be a part of the software.

Android 4.1 is rumored to be coming along with a new piece of tablet hardware which means that it might contain an assortment of tablet specific features.

And given that one of Apple’s focuses with iOS 6 was on Siri, the software’s voice control, it’s possible that Google is gearing up to beef up its Voice Actions for Android service with the new software.

Don’t Expect the World

Jelly Beans appeared at the Googleplex campus.

Don’t expect Android 4.1 Jelly Bean to be a massive update. Its Android 4.1 name should be a dead giveaway. Android 5.0 this is not. However, that doesn’t mean that it won’t bring some nice upgrades to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. It will.

Google Nexus 7 Tablet

This could be the Google Nexus 7 tablet.

Along with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Google is widely believed to be announcing a new tablet, rumored to be made by Asus and called the Nexus 7. The tablet has been outed various times and already we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Google’s first Nexus tablet.

The tablet is rumored to have a 1.3GHz Tegra 3 processor on board which means that it will more than likely be Wi-Fi only. Other rumored specifications include 1GB of RAM,  a 7-inch 1280×800 display and a front-facing camera. It’s said not to have a rear-facing camera.

It might end up looking a great deal like the Asus Eee Pad MeMO, a device that was announced at CES, and can be seen in the video below.

Google’s Nexus 7 has been pegged for a July launch and it might come with a price tag around $199 or below. The company is also widely expected to sell the device directly, instead of through third parties.

We fully expect the Nexus 7 tablet to be announced with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean as its operating system.

Vizio just announced its new Google TV set top box.

Google TV

Sony and Vizio both announced new Google TV set-top boxes today which could be a sign that the company is planning to reboot Google TV at this year’s Google I/O. Sony’s device will feature Blu-ray while Vizio’s will offer OnLive, a streaming gaming service.

We expect that Google will build on both of these announcements and usher in a new era of Google TV.

Whether that is through new content partnerships, something that was lacking in the old iteration of Google TV, remains to be seen however.

Google Play

On Google’s I/O website, it states, very plainly, that one the first I/O sessions deals with “new developments coming soon from Google Play.” What exactly? We’re not sure yet but Android users should definitely expect some improvements to Google’s Android marketplace.

Hopefully, that means better search.

Google Chrome/Google Drive

Will Google announced Drive for iPhone and iPad?

Last but not least, we expect to hear something about Google Chrome, both browser and OS, and Google Drive, the company’s cloud storage solution.  Google’s Chromebooks, which run Chrome OS, have flopped so the company might be looking to do something new with the operating system. Maybe integration with Android is something that Google might be looking at.

That’s not out of the question considering Apple introduced iOS features into its new OS X operating system, OS X Mountain Lion.

Also, iPhone and iPad owners will be hoping that Google finally announces Google Drive for iPhone and iPad. The company had said that it was 98% done weeks ago, and we expect to hear something about its availability tomorrow.

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