It's that time of year again. Apple's WWDC is past, and developers' eyes now turn to Google's I/O conference.
The Googlepalooza for developers opens Wednesday in San Francisco. Although it's focused toward developers, the event usually offers announcements of interest to any Google- or Android-watcher.
As with any self-respecting tech event, speculation has begun in earnest. Android-based smart watches are expected to be highly visible this year, especially since developers might be walking out with them as part of their event swag.
Google is expected to have some response to Apple's growing claim on health sensoring via wearables. One report, from CNET, predicts Samsung will make an appearance at I/O to demo a new Android Wear watch. This will have political overtones, given that Samsung has also begun releasing wearables running on its Tizen operating system, which is seen as a way for Samsung to become less beholden to Google.
Some new version of Android is expected to be previewed, although there are differences of opinion as to whether it will be a major new version or an incremental update. One rumor floating around focuses on something called Quantum Paper, a new design framework so that Android experiences will be uniform across platforms. Such an effort, huge though it may be, could go a long way toward quelling continuing talk of the fragmentation of the Android OS, which is best visualized by the many different kinds of interfaces and interactions.
Depending how extensive Google wants to make this year's scope, there could also be developments in the ripe areas where Android has barely gotten a foothold. These include TV, autos, and those many devices ready to become part of the Internet of Things.
Home automation in particular could be a focus, especially given the recent news that Google-owned Nest bought home video monitoring provider Dropcam for $555 million. Apple has also begun to lay its claim to home automation, and Microsoft has been conducting research in the area for years.
Of course, expect Google Glass to be visible everywhere, and it seems like it's time for the tech giant to take its most visible hardware product to the next level. One can expect the unveiling of new Glass apps, and perhaps a less expensive consumer model or new stylish versions.
Particularly considering Amazon's recent announcement of its Amazon Fire Phone with 3D capabilities, Google might want to show some recent steps toward its own 3D smartphone technology, known currently as Project Tango. Developers are enamored of this project, even though the general public has probably not heard about it. Similarly, Project Ara, Google's effort to create a do-it-yourself modular phone, may see some visibility at the conference.
Some watchers are expecting a spectacular opening to rival the 2012 conference, when skydivers wearing Google Glass headsets parachuted down to the conference center . The idea that robots might make an appearance is being bandied about, especially considering that Google has scooped up more than a half-dozen robotics companies.