May, 09 2011

Google I/O is set to kick off in just about 24 hours. Don’t believe me? Check out the official countdown clock on the I/O site. But what can we expect? A new Android version to be revealed? Some new info on Google TV? An Android-powered robot that will turn sentient and eventually go rogue, recreating the events of the Terminator franchise? We really can’t say for sure, but we can make a few educated guesses.

Just taking a quick look at the sessions list for the week’s events, we see that this year’s I/O focus is decidedly more Android than ever. Sure, there will be some talk of Google’s +1 social service, the Chrome webstore, and the cloud, but Android is covered top to bottom. A large emphasis seems to focus on gaming, but sessions will also cover everything from NFC to apps for Google TV. Yes, apps for Google TV will be covered, but can we expect any big announcements for the platform at I/O?

Many sources are saying that while Google is indeed in the middle of revamping Google TV, no huge announcements will be made about an imminent update to the platform. We may get a glimpse of a new Google TV interface, a tease of some new hardware, and even a look at the internet television box running some Android apps, but don’t expect anything to actually launch for several months. Remember the gap between announcement of the platform at last year’s I/O and the actual release in the fall? Still, the new capabilities should come as the result of Google merging many aspects of Honeycomb, Gingerbread, and Google TV to create the next iteration of Android: Ice Cream Sandwich.

OK, so we don’t have 100 percent confirmation that the code name will not simply be Ice Cream, but Ice Cream Sandwich seems the popular choice. Either way, we expect this to be the major focus of Google’s keynote address tomorrow. The next version of Android is rumored to answer the question of how Google will navigate the separation of Android for tablets and smartphones. Some of the bigger features (and maybe even UI tweaks) of Honeycomb will come to a smartphone-friendly package. But we’re sure Google has a lot more up their sleeve than that.

And maybe, just maybe if we’re lucky, the announcement of Android Ice Cream Sandwich will coincide with the launch of Google Music, the lone holdout from last year’s I/O conference. In May of 2010 Google first impressed us with visions of a cloud-based music service to rival iTunes, but since then countless reports have surfaced of Google’s inability to ink any deals with record labels. The latest says Google is shifting their strategy and turning towards established music provider Spotify to help launch the highly anticipated service.

So that could be Google I/O in a nutshell, but so much more will occur within breakout sessions and around the Moscone Convention Center that we can’t possibly predict what could come out of the conference. We still expect Google to give away a customary free device, though we don’t know what it could be. Remember, you have a chance to win it no matter what. We’ll be live at I/O bringing you all the news as it breaks, so be sure to stay tuned to Phandroid for all the latest.