Google's annual developer conference starts on Wednesday, and ReadWriteWeb will be there. This is the fifth year of Google I/O, and the news is sure to have serious implications for the online universe. We'll see new flagship devices, major updates to apps and services, and demonstrations of those crazy, impractical technologies Google has been hacking on lately. Here's what we know is in store - but there are sure to be surprises.
"We don't have the space on Google's campus to hold I/O," said Mike Pegg, the Googler in charge of the event. Instead, the Google I/O event will try to recreate the Google campus in San Francisco's premier convention hall, Moscone Center, right down to the micro-kitchens full of tasty snacks.
The event includes two keynote addresses. The first will take place on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. Pacific, and there's another on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. Google isn't giving out advance information, but the keynotes will be streamed live. If you watch them on ReadWriteWeb, we'll fill in the blanks with context and commentary as the announcements roll out. In addition to the keynotes, we'll survey the big areas of developer news and provide interviews with key Googlers and developers.
New Google Devices
It is widely accepted among gadget mavens that Google will unveil a seven-inch, $199 tablet under the flagship Nexus brand. It's a Tegra 3 tablet built by Asus, and it will run the latest Android version, known as Jelly Bean, which will also be released at I/O. Conflicting reports identify Jelly Bean as either Android 4.1 or Android 5.0. Rather than speculate, we'll just wait and see what's announced.
Which is not to say we'll shy away from gadget-bloggery altogether. At this point, I'll go first-person so as not to implicate my colleagues. I've gone on the record predicting a tablet running Chrome OS. Why? Oh, just for fun. Also, the Chrome team told me back in May, when the new flagship Chromebook and Chromebox came out, that more OEMs would release Chrome OS devices this year in "a number of different form factors." Plus, we've seen tablet versions of Chrome before. Google I/O is the right time to talk about multi-touch Chrome apps, so it's the right time to show off the new device as well.
Lastly, we have no inside information on this, but it sure would be cool if we got to try on Project Glass glasses this week.
Google's Platform News
Pegg says the biggest Google platform news will be in three categories.
The first is Maps. Google's brilliant mapping software, introduced in 2005, instantly made the Web a more useful place. This year, Google is, in its own words, taking Maps to "the next dimension." With new 3D technology and an improved user interface, Google Maps and apps built on it will make your surroundings look radically different.
Google has already made some big announcements ahead of the conference. It slashed prices for apps that access Google Maps (after imposing fees for the first time in October), and Google spokespeople made clear that this was just a prelude. With Apple poised to kick Google Maps out of its iPhone mapping app, location-based apps are about to heat up.
The second category is cloud services. Google has an offering called App Engine that, like Amazon Web Services, lets developers host Web apps on Google's servers. It has been an experiment for a while, but now it allows for service-level agreements, so real businesses can be built on it. Google wants to launch a full-fledged competitor with Amazon's offering, and there will be major news on that front at I/O.
The third area is Drive, Google's cloud storage and syncing service that launched in April. Like its popular competitor, Dropbox, Google Drive provides a synced file system that stores documents for all kinds of applications. At Google I/O this year, we can expect the service to open up to app developers, so they can integrate it into their products. Google Drive does neat tricks like reading text and recognizing objects in photos, and now third-party apps will be able to use it to do the same things. Apps - especially for mobile devices - built on Google Drive could enable some serious life hacks.
Where to Watch
You'll be able to stream video from Google I/O at developers.google.com/io. Google plans to stream twice as much content this year as last, and it will all be available on YouTube afterward. Both keynotes will be streamed, the entire Android and Chrome tracks will be streamed, and there will be a selection from other sessions, too.
We'll embed the streams here with our coverage alongside, and you won't want to miss it. We've got two reporters (Taylor and me), Fred the business editor, and Eliot the video producer and photographer in attendance.
If you have questions during the event or want to meet up with us, hit us up on Twitter: