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Google I/O: what to expect

tech reviews Updated: Jun 24, 2014 10:23 IST

June began with Apple's developer conference, where new hardware was expected but failed to materialize, and it is set to end with Google's own two-day event for its coders, developers and partners, where physical products tend to take a back seat yet are tipped to be revealed.

Chief among them is a new Nexus tablet built by HTC which was discovered by Android Police and which promises a 64-bit processor, a lot of RAM and a high-resolution 8.9-inch screen. All of which means it should be equally at home streaming a film and put to more productive uses. It also means that in terms of specifications, it will be on a par with Apple's iPad Air.

According to the latest data from ABI Research, the tablet market is set to become more challenging this year. Although over 200 million tablets are expected to find new owners over the course of the year, demand and focus are starting to shift. Where 7-to-8-inches was the display size of choice in Europe and the US, thanks to the growing popularity of phones with 5-inch+ displays, tablets are going to start getting bigger again in order to differentiate.

So, expect the HTC-built 8.9-inch tablet to have some competition before the end of the year.

Wearable technology is going to be a hot topic at the event. Google will be demonstrating the capabilities of its new Android Wear operating system, developed especially for devices like smartwatches. And now, according to CNET, the event will also see a new smartwatch from Samsung running the new software. This is alongside devices confirmed by Motorola and LG that could also make their debut at I/O.

Android Wear has managed to create a bit of a buzz, at least within the tech community, since it was first announced. Designed to make the most of Google's contextual awareness capabilities, it can use a person's physical location, preferences, email inbox and calendar as guides for offering hints, tips information and other things that will be pertinent at a particular moment in time.

Anyone with an Android phone that runs the latest version of Android will have some idea of what this is like already though the Google Now system which does things like automatically push the results of football matches and news about transport strikes to a handset's home screen if the industrial action impacts on a journey home or if the score means that a team has progressed or been eliminated from a tournament.

What we shouldn't expect from the two-day event is a consumer-ready version of Google Glass. It still isn't ready for primetime. However, do expect to see hundreds of attendees and keynote speakers wearing the smart glasses for the duration of the two-day conference.

The Google I/O conference runs June 25-26.