The Google I/O 2011 conference officially kicks off tomorrow, and we can expect to Android to be the largest focus yet again. A lot has happened in Android-land since last year, and Google has likely been working around the clock to get the latest and greatest ready to be announced. Whether it’s in the form of the Ice Cream Sandwich update, or something else, we can expect some interesting announcements to come from the search giant tomorrow.
Here’s a list of we expect to see, and what we’d like to see for the most popular Google I/O yet.
Android Ice Cream Sandwich
What most people are probably looking forward to is Ice Cream Sandwich, the next version of the Android operating system. The only thing about the next version of the OS we’re confident about is the name itself, which has been confirmed on more than one occasion. Other than that, there’s very little we know about the update.
Rumor has it that Ice Cream Sandwich will merge all existing branches of the Android OS, which will bridge smartphones, tablets, and Google TV into one project. Not only would this help Android’s fragmentation issues, but it would also allow developers to write an application for one device, and have it run smoothly across a multitude of devices.
While still very much a rumor, this may be the year that Android and Chrome begin to interact with each other in some form. If the next version of Android is to merge virtually everything else, we’d imagine that this may be the best time two see the two operating systems embrace each other in one form or another.
Android 3.0 Honeycomb is a good step forward for the OS in the tablet space, but at the moment, it’s still a bit undercooked. There’s a lot that Honeycomb does right, but there’s still a lot that needs to be done if Google wants to compete with the iPad. While the new iPad 2 ads can induce nausea for some, Apple is right when it says, “technology is not enough.” Honeycomb tablets have the right specifications and power underneath the hood, but the ease of use just isn’t there when compared to the iPad. Honeycomb isn’t hard to use, but there’s a learning curve to it that takes some time to get used to.
While we have our doubts that Honeycomb will see a UI revamp, we could see some polish thrown on, making the experience a bit cleaner.
If Google wants to challenge Apple on the music front, the announcement of Google Music during this conference needs to happen. As it stands today, Apple’s iTunes is a juggernaut that can’t be stopped, and even if Google is planning to release its own service, it will likely take a while for it see the traction it would like to. So far, we have been hearing that the service has been off to a rocky start, so hopefully Google has ironed out these issues.
This is why I think Google shouldn’t stop with just music. Google needs to compete with Apple on every level if it’s looking to challenge iTunes. Give users another portal to purchase their music, movies, and TV at competitive prices, and allow playback on any device. That should get some attention.
Google TV refresh
If the Ice Cream Sandwich Android update rumor does end up merging Google TV into the same project, the service may begin to see more traction than ever. Google TV has been met with mixed reviews, and still needs a good amount of work put into it.
At the very least, we can expect to hear the introduction of the Android Market into Google TV. At the last Google I/O, it was announced that the Android Market will be hitting the TV service in mid-2011, so the official announcement shouldn’t come as a surprise. If Ice Cream Sandwich does indeed merge the TV service into the main branch of Android, the application selection may not be as sparse as we’d imagine.
This isn’t something that we hope Google will announce during the conference, enhanced security measures is something Google needs to do. Malware on the Android Market has increased significantly, and Google needs to do something about it as soon as possible. The last thing we imagine the search giant will do is require all applications to be approved, but the issues won’t go away as it stands today.
Google could create an extra step when submitting an application to the Android Market, which could be an automated way of checking for suspicious code. If a red flag is found within the application, it would be held for further review, but if the submitted application looks to be clean, then said app would be submitted like any other application. While it’s probably easier said than done, this way would allow for enhanced security for the Android Market without sacrificing the ability to get your application to users quickly.
We’re definitely not ruling out the possibility that Google will announce something that hasn’t been on our radar. Last year, Google unveiled a new feature that gave the user the ability to push web pages, Maps directions, and more from the computer to an Android handset. This features later released as Google Chrome to Phone.
We’d imagine that if Google does have something up its sleeve that we haven’t been expecting, it will most likely be some sort of new cloud-based feature. If Google Music has taken a stumble, then we may see Google open up a cloud-based music storage locker similar to what Amazon recently announced.
Those are our guesses, what are yours? Leave your predictions in the comments below!