Google I/O, the web giant's annual developer conference kicks off today at San Francisco. The company has a history of announcing about 2-3 new products every year at this conference. Android, Google TV and Google Wave were all announced at this conference. Although a lot of products that have been announced at I/O like Google Wave and Google gears haven't turned out to be hits the whole web is abuzz of what will Google offer its consumers this year. The conference tickets sold like hot cakes with developers buying out all the tickets within 58 minutes.
The whole event will mainly be focused on Android and Chrome OS. So here is a round up of all the rumours over the web about Google I/O
- A new version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich: Ya you heard it right, in accordance with Google's practice of naming versions of Android in alphabetical order after desserts, the new version of Android is going to be named Ice cream sandwich. This release will bring in a lot of Honeycomb features to phone which are currently tablet device only. In addition to this Honeycomb will also receive an upgrade bringing in UI and performance improvements.
- Google Music – The music streaming service which Google had showed off at last years I/O is finally going to be launched. A leaked build of the Music Player app floating around on the internet has already revealed cloud capabilities. This service will directly compete with Amazon Cloud Player.
- Revamped Google TV – Google TV will receive a facelift after the flop of the current version. Looks like the idea of 'TV meets Web. Web Meets TV' didn't appeal much to the audience. The new TV will receive a hardware bump and the ability to run android apps. Apps running on Google TV would put it in direct competition with Gaming Consoles. Google aims to increase the interest of developers in this platform to create apps for the TV. To offer good web based content for the TV, youtube will be adding 3000 movies to its catalogue which can be rented.
- NFC – Near field Communication, the wireless technology which has been included in a lot of phones lately inducing the Nexus S will also have its share of promotion at I/O. Foursquare ispartnering with Google to introduce NFC check-ins by simply hovering your phone over a poster. The interesting thing over here is that even though Google has a similar offering – latitude, it is teaming up with foursquare.
- Chrome OS - The Chrome web store was announced last year at I/O. The Web store although available for PCs, Macs and Linux through the Chrome web browser, was mainly introduced for the Chrome OS. This year it is expected that Google will finally announce a Chrome OS netbook which will be available to customers in June or July. Though the Cr-48 netbook had come out earlier, it wasn't available to public and was more of a test run. The chrome OS has recently come out of beta and google has partnered with Acer, Sony and Samsung to manufacture these netbooks. Google is holding a lot of sessions on HTML5 and WebGL (graphics library) to help Chrome OS get the same capabilities that desktops have through web technologies.
Social is expected to take a back seat at I/O. The reason behind this is that Google doesn't want to build up a lot of expectations and hype since it has a very bad history with Social. Buzz hasn't been very successful and was initially caught up in privacy issues. The only social related announcement at I/O will be the already available '+1′ button to promote results in Google searches.
Google has also partnered with a lot of companies like Seesmic, Foursquare, Hashable and many others to demonstrate and show off their use of technologies provided by Google to developers. With these associations Google will also attempt to address the problem of scarcity of tablet optimised apps available on the Android Market.
It will be interesting to see whether Google continues last years trend of taking digs at Apple throughout its keynote even when the open-ness of Android is in a lot of danger.
Like every year, Google will give out a free Android device to every attendee and this year it is rumoured to be the Samsung Galaxy tab. To stay in sync with all the announcements at I/O keep checking Watblog or the event live stream.