With one week to go until Google's annual developers' conference kicks off, the rumors surrounding new products, features and services is reaching fever pitch, and new tablets and an updated operating system are widely expected by those in the know.
The Google I/O Developers
Conference, which this year will be held in San Francisco May 15-17 and for which tickets sold out in60 minutes, is expected to focus heavily on its smart headset, Google Glass. Indeed the opening keynote address, which usually lasts less than 60 minutes, is this year scheduled to run for three hours.
However, as well as the future of augmented reality glasses, the event is also expected to showcase a host of products and services that consumers will actually be able to buy before the end of this year (a consumer-friendly version of Google Glass is not expected to debut until some time in 2014.)
Chief among these are new tablets. The Nexus 7 tablet is currently considered by the tech community as the best small Android tablet on the market and, at $199, it also represents one of the best value for money packages. However, a year is a long time in consumer technology and so Google is expected to unveil a new version -- the Nexus 7.7, which like the existing slate, will be manufactured by Asus but will also feature a full HD display and a Qualcomm chipset which will give it 4G LTE super-fast mobile internet connectivity (for a monthly network fee, of course).
RAM will also double to 2GB and a rear-facing camera will be added. The only thing that isn't clear is which version of Android the device will run. However, many expect that the existing version of the tablet will remain on sale at a discounted price (an approach that has helped Apple to continue to dominate the tablet market).
Joining a new small tablet will be a new full-size tablet. The Nexus 10, built by Samsung, boasted the highest resolution screen of any comparably sized tablet when it launched last autumn. Although its specifications were impressive, figures suggest it has not performed very well in terms of sales.
Samsung is hoping to address this sales shortfall by incorporating an 8-megapixel rear facing and 2-megapixel front-facing camera into the Nexus-11 and taking the screen up to 11-inches. It is also expected to be the first Nexus device to feature a micro-SD slot capable of upping internal storage by 64GB and will use Samsung's own high-speed Octa-Core processor. Like the refreshed Nexus 7, the Nexus 11 is expected to retail for the price of its predecessor -- $400.
Android 4.3, not 5.0
Finally, a new version of Android will be showcased at the event and the signs are that it will be a minor refresh rather than a huge overhaul of the operating system.
This past weekend, HTC accidentally leaked information surrounding the software that suggests it will bring significant improvements to handsets in terms of tethering via Bluetooth to always-on devices -- everything from the aforementioned Google Glass to fitness trackers and ‘smart' internet-of-things devices. The update will also focus on getting the best out of the latest generation of premium processors like those inside the Samsung Galaxy SIV and HTC One which should take gaming to another level. However, no big changes are expected, meaning that it will be another 12 months before Google pushes out Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie, although a number of Android forums are reporting activity from devices that run the operating system.