The Google I/O conference kicks off May 15-17 at San Francisco’s Moscone Center, and a quick perusal of its sessions list gives an idea of what to expect. For example, there’ll be a fair bit of emphasis on Google Glass, the company’s augmented-reality headgear; Google Android will also receive quite a bit of attention, with session slots devoted to everything from the latest developments in mobile gaming to best practices in Bluetooth development.
But will Google use the conference to show off new consumer products? Based on the current spate of rumors, that’s a safe assumption. The blog 9to5Google quotes KGI securities analyst Mingchi Kuo (who’s positioned as an especially accurate prognosticator of upcoming tech releases) as saying that Google will debut an upgraded Nexus 7 tablet at Google I/O, complete with an upgraded processor and screen, as well as a thinner and lighter body. The new-and-improved device could also feature wireless charging and a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera lens.
Other Google-watching blogs have predicted the search-engine giant will use the conference as a launching pad for a new Google Maps interface. “The update will remove the sidebar and will display everything on top of the full-screen map,” read a May 7 note on the Google Operating System blog, which offers unofficial news on the company. “One of the new features lets you restrict local search results to places recommended by top reviews or your Google+ circles.”
And AllThingsD is predicting (based on anonymous sources) that Google will roll out an updated Google Wallet product, although that won’t “include the physical credit card that the company had considered launching at the event.” Instead, it will offer upgraded rewards and loyalty points, with an eye toward competing with Apple’s Passbook for iOS.
While Google Wallet seems like a great idea on paper—using your Android smartphone as a digital wallet would certainly prove a life-booster for many people—putting the technology into practice has proven somewhat more difficult: many businesses lack the NFC hardware necessary to make purchases via smartphone, and there have been concerns about the security of the platform.
“Sources also said that Google CEO Larry Page abruptly killed the card launch plan after he was displeased with a glitchy run-through demo last week,” AllThingsD reported. “He had long been skeptical of a physical card solution, with several sources saying he felt it did not press forward innovation as payments startups like Square have done.”
Last year, Google used Google I/O to debut the original Nexus 7 tablet and Google Glass. The demonstration for the latter featured skydivers over San Francisco and bikers on the roof of the Moscone Center, and earned Google a lot of buzz in the process. This year, it’s likely that a portion of the audience will be wearing Google Glass—but unlike certain Google Glass fans, hopefully they’ll all be clothed.