Today Google is kicking off its biggest event of the year: Google I/O, a massive developer conference that opens with a two-hour keynote (gah, yes, two whole hours). For a glimpse at the future of all things Google, you can stream the event live via the video below and on Google’s event site.
Follow along with us during I/O here and on Twitter @VentureBeat. Google CEO Sundar Pichai takes the stage at 10 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. EDT). Own own Emil Protalinski, Ken Yeung, and Jordan Novet will be on the ground at the event. (You should follow them, too!)
At last year’s I/O, Google unveiled Android M (that’s M for Marshmallow); two Internet of Things technologies, Brillo and Weave; an Apple Pay competitor; and a slew of other things. This year we’re expecting more details on the next version of Android, a standalone VR headset, updates to Android Wear, and maybe even an Amazon Echo competitor — more details on that below.
Google I/O 2016: What to expect
Android N: Google is expected to spill new details on Android N, the next version of Android. The company already released two developer previews of the OS over the past few months (this is unusually early for Google), revealing some of the new features planned, like notification improvements, split-screen modes, a new 3D rendering API, and launcher shortcuts.
Android VR: After toying with Cardboard for ages — an entertaining, but so far super low-quality VR experience when compared to its pricier counterparts — Google’s rumored Android VR could shake up the industry in a big way if it ends up being announced today. In an interview earlier this month, Google’s head of VR, Clay Bavor, teased the company’s next steps:
So we want to embrace many of the things we think Cardboard got right: mobility, comfort, approachability, low cost. But then of course, the smartphones that Cardboard makes use of, were meant to be first and foremost smartphones. They weren’t designed with virtual reality in mind, and Cardboard of course is just cardboard. And so I think that if you’re more intentional in designing phones, designing software and go beyond Cardboard you can do something pretty magical that is even higher quality, higher performance and so on. But while maintaining many of the attributes that make Cardboard so powerful and appealing.
Android VR could end up being a platform, headset, or both. In February, the Wall Street Journal said Google was working on “an all-in-one virtual-reality headset that doesn’t rely on a smartphone, computer, or game console.” And a few days ago, a placeholder on Google’s developer site seemed to officially confirm Android VR’s existence.
…the team has been busy upgrading the platform ever since. In this session, we will share our vision for the Android Wear platform as well as tools available to both designers and developers.
Welp, we’ll see. So far the OS has not blown us away.
Project Chirp: Google may be working on its answer to Echo, the surprisingly well-received speaker box that ships with Amazon’s personal assistant, Alexa. (Alexa is akin to Apple’s Siri, Google Now, and Microsoft’s Cortana.)
So far the New York Times, Recode, and The Information have all reported on various aspects of the alleged product, which may be a reaction to the Echo’s early success (though Amazon won’t share how many Echoes it’s sold).
Other stuff: More fun rumors and reports include a big update to Project Tango, signs of Android and Chrome OS’ convergence, some sort of update to Android Pay, and maybe even something in the realm of messaging and chatbots. We’ll find out shortly.