What to expect at Google I/O 2014: Android 5.0 Lollipop, new Nexus, and smartwatches


Update: Android L is now official! Take a look at our post-Google I/O coverage here.

Google I/O is right around the corner: this year’s biggest Google developer event kicks off in San Francisco on June 25th with a keynote featuring Android head Sundar Pichai, and hopes are that we’ll see a brand new version of the operating system, as well as some hardware to show its capabilities off.

Google I/O, however, has a much larger scope than before. In the past year, Google has acquired robot makers from Boston Dynamics (you probably did not know, but Google went on a shopping spree last December, acquiring a total of 7 robotics companies), thermostat and home automation experts from Nest, and multiple others. So in addition to the usual Android and (hopefully) Nexus news, we could see the first announcements regarding Google’s robotics plans.

Our focus here, however, will stay on mobile, as the big story of Google I/O 2014 will almost certainly be about the next version of Android. Will it be the long anticipated Android 5.0 ‘L’ release (and is it ‘L’ for Lollipop?)? We don’t know, but what seems certain is that Apple has picked up the pace with iOS 7 and 8 recently, and all eyes will be on Google for an appropriate response.

The ‘L’ release: Android 5.0 Lollipop


I/O 2014 starts nearly 9 months after Google presented Android 4.4 KitKat to the world. With no big Android events that we know of, this seems like a perfect occasion for the next major version of the world’s most popular operating system to get unwrapped.

We've been hearing rumors about Android 5.0 Lollipop for quite a while now, but what will it be about?

A massive Android redesign (codename: ‘Quantum Paper’)



The biggest upcoming change in the next Android version seems to be in its looks. Android Police uncovered plans for an all-encompassing (web, desktop and mobile) redesign of Google products to a new language referred to as ‘Quantum Paper’. A flat interface with dominant whites and contrasty visuals, we've seen it leak for future revisions of apps like Calendar and Gmail, but it’s only logical to assume that it will affect all native Android apps.

These new ‘Quantum Paper’ visuals are linked to the upcoming Android ‘L’ release, but expectations are for a gradual launch, with the new visual style appearing in updated apps one by one, rather than in one sweep.

Chances for Android redesign news at I/O 2014: 80%

Google Fit: Android's health and fitness hub


After Apple debuted its Health hub at WWDC, with SDKs already available to users, Google would now have to play catch up in the health and fitness game, and that’s exactly what we expect it to do at I/O. This will allegedly happen via Google Fit, an interface that will gather health and fitness data from wearable devices using open APIs.

Google should announce partnerships with wearable makers (think Jawbone and FitBit). It’s also likely that Google Fit will be integrated into Android Wear (see below), Google’s platform tailored for smartwatches and smart wearables.

Chances for GoogleFit news at I/O 2014: 90%

Google set to unveil a rival to Apple's CarPlay OS at Google I/O


It looks as if Google will unveil its own in-car interface at I/O as well. The new interface is said to carry the codename Google Auto Link, and to be developed by the Open Automotive Alliance, a group of companies consisting of Google, Audi, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai and NVIDIA. Needless to say, cars from those brands are likely to be the first to support this new interface.

So what will this Google Auto Link do? First, it will allow users to control their Android smartphones straight from the dashboard, without having to reach for the phone and be distracted from the road. It will not have the full Android functionality, of course, but the essentials will be there: you should be able to make calls, browse Google Maps, send messages, and play music, and Google Now could also be integrated.

Chances for Android CarPlay news at I/O 2014: 80%

The first Android Wear smartwatches: LG G Watch, Moto 360, Samsung Gear Live


While all the planned changes to Android are massive, nothing excites more than new hardware, real devices that you can touch and play around with. Luckily, multiple source indicate that there will be some freebies for all Google I/O attendants in the form of the first Android Wear smartwatch - the LG G Watch.

Google’s idea of the smartwatch is not of an independent device, but rather as a companion to your smartphone that can listen to your voice, and display quick and relevant information in one glance. It will also have an always-on display, so you would not need to worry about turning it on just to glance the time.

The biggest concern about this new Android Wear smartwatch? Battery life, of course. Having a color display on at all times comes with a big battery drain, making the smartwatch just another device you’d have to recharge very often.

Chances for Android Wear and smartwatch news at I/O 2014: 90%

Nexus at crossroads: Nexus 8, or the end of the Nexus line?



The Nexus smartphone program has brought us some great devices at extremely affordable prices - the Nexus 5 for instance in selling for around half the price of other flagships, yet offers nearly the same performance and functionality. While we all hope for a new Nexus (a Nexus 6, as some call it), it’s not very likely that we’ll see it at I/O 2014. This is not even all that surprising - Google has made it a tradition to unveil new Nexus smartphones at a late-fall event, at least that’s when it brought the last two in the line.

For starters, LG, the company that made the last two Nexus smartphones nigh confirmed that it is not making this year’s one. Moreover, rumors about a new program called Android Silver persist in saying that the Nexus line will go the way of the dodo this year, and there will never be a 2015 Nexus phone.

If that new Android Silver line is indeed real, though, we could hear something about Google’s plans for it at I/O, even though, we would not bet on seeing actual devices.

Chance for Nexus 6 news at I/O 2014: 20%
Chance for Nexus 8 news at I/O 2014: 40%

Google Glass: again, a no-show


Google’s futuristic Glass, the wearable computer with a camera on, has undergone extensive beta testing by thousands of ‘Explorers’ in the United States, but it’s launch is put off time and time again. Early rumors speculated that it could arrive iat the beginning of 2014, but Google X head Sergey Brin has last confirmed that it’s more likely to arrive early next year. Brace yourselves.

Chance of Google Glass news at I/O 2014: 50% (but much lower for an actual launch)

News on Project Ara


Finally, Project Ara. The idea of a modular smartphone that you build and customize yourself, piece by piece, could have massive implications for the whole phone industry. Imagine it taking off - you won’t need to rely on companies like Samsung, or HTC, to put parts together in an attractive (or not so much) design, that you buy every two years or so - instead, you’d have the option to ship directly from chip and camera makers.

Not bad, considering that you can thus upgrade just the feature you need and use your phone for a much longer time without needing to shell out cash for upgrades every now and then.

Project Ara, however, did not make it in the news around Google I/O at all, so either it’s in stealth mode, or there will be no major news at this developer conference.

Chance of Project Ara news at I/O 2014: 20%


Conclusion


All in all, it's clear that Google I/O 2014 will be one of the biggest events of the year. Don't get mistaken: it's mostly about the software and developers, and not so much about hardware, but Google has established a tradition of having at least some hardware to show, so we do expect to see a few devices. I/O attendants always get some freebies, and this time we've heard that the LG G Watch will be given away, and we would not be surprised if developers got a new Nexus tablet (if it exists).

What about the rest of you? You can, of course, stay tuned to PhoneArena on Wednesday, at 9 am PT | 12 noon ET when we'll start with our extensive coverage of the opening keynote and all the news it brings us, and keep refreshing the page all throughout the week for the latest news in the world of Android. What are you looking forward to at Google's biggest show this year? Let us know in the comments right below.

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66 Comments

1. Ninetysix

Posts: 2965; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

I expect everything to be original and innovative. There should be NONE and I repeat NONE that's copied from somewhere else. We'll feel bad if Google copies something since we've posted so much sh*t in the iOS 8 articles regarding copying, originality, innovative, etc. Please Google :) /s

6. Ashoaib

Posts: 3299; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

google usually try to bring innovative products unlike apple, who just copy features of android to ios then call it ios8... making of phablet bcoz all else does already... iwatch youwatch or nobody watch, bcoz all others released their gears... list goes on n on

7. Ninetysix

Posts: 2965; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

Good to hear that everyting that Google will announce is new. Thank you Ashoaib.

13. nexusdude

Posts: 151; Member since: Aug 22, 2013

Who cares if something is copied from elsewhere? If it's good, it's good for you. The problem in Apple's case is, as MKBHD tweeted, that at WWDC they first bashed Android (with wrong facts BTW) and then announced half the features that make Android so beloved.

15. nexusdude

Posts: 151; Member since: Aug 22, 2013

^Didn't see the /s.

29. techspace

Posts: 1037; Member since: Sep 03, 2012

Apple never bashed android, i like MKBHD but he is wrong in this case. They didn't bash android,they didn't say that android is bad,they have said that the latest version of android isn't available to most of the users, there aren't any apps in the play store that are optimized for tablets and they have talked about android malware, these problems only need better thinking and decision making from google and their oems,they don't suggest that android is inferior in any way at all.

49. engineer-1701d unregistered

bull s;it they didn't , i watched the event they bashed android and windows

51. techspace

Posts: 1037; Member since: Sep 03, 2012

They never said anything bad about android itself, they said that most of the android users don't have KitKat and they were talking about malware, which can be prevented by avoiding apps from unreliable sources. And talking about windows, they said that many users don't have windows 8, but they didn't say windows 8 is bad.

31. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

I'm sure that you will agree with Armando Ferreira's opinion: "Apple WWDC 2014 | iOS8 and Thoughts on Tim Cook" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9ucLg2FUsQ

33. techspace

Posts: 1037; Member since: Sep 03, 2012

That is apple's way of presenting. They target other companies in the middle, but i still think that their keynotes are really good.

43. sgodsell

Posts: 7459; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

I hope they bring in multi-window to the next version of Android. Instead of OEMs like Samsung, Sony, and LG adding that feature on themselves. This way it could be standardized across the Android platform. For smartphones and tablets.

44. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

It would be nice.

39. bob_monkeywarts unregistered

Well, yeah, it's fine to copy things, like Apple did with the Samsung F700, but now Apple keeps suing Samsung for every product they make.

52. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

You better believe it. How else would you get your iOS 9 features?

17. adwienc

Posts: 136; Member since: Mar 26, 2014

Oh come on, everything is copy of a copy, and Google copied Symbian. Hell, I wouldn't use word "copy" when saying about iOS bringing features from Android, it's more of influence.

37. iushnt

Posts: 3126; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

Yes u r true..its influensive when everybody does it but Samsung.

11. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

You are Genius, Brosephine /s :)

16. Ninetysix

Posts: 2965; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

hehe :)

28. techspace

Posts: 1037; Member since: Sep 03, 2012

i think not copying from anyone is 'arrogant'. google and apple have borrowed few things from each other in the past and they should continue to do so. What android fans have said on PA would never influence google's decisions,the end result should be good and that's what matters. any fanboy would support his favourite company,come what may.

36. iushnt

Posts: 3126; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

Ninetysix, you are talking as if u are a Google supporter and not Apple's. Samsung first got serious with the health features on smart device. Now it like a trend.

53. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Spot On! Samsung; Been here done that!

59. Liveitup

Posts: 1798; Member since: Jan 07, 2014

If anything Google will be taking cues from WP. That's where iOS 7 and 8 got its inspiration. You guys don't realize this but compare iOS 7 and 8 with Windows Phone on the "light" background, you will see just how much of a copy iOS is of WP. But I guess thats how it goes when something looks great but isn't necessarily popular the popular ones will copy it and bring it to the masses. WP is a classic example.

60. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

OK, let me see if I can get this through your titanium skull. Everyone copies from everyone. When one company brings a new feature their competition has to offer the same thing or something similar to compete. That's business. But some companies like to use other's features while litigating those who use theirs. If you'll recall it's the fans of a certain device introduced in 2007 that lobbed the first "copying" shots. But when that sake company does it, it's OK? That's not in ANY way hypocritical at all. smh BTW, nice going throwing out a flame comment and assure that it turns into a fanboy war. I'm starting to wonder if some of the people on here work for PA and do that to generate click bait.

2. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

I'm sue that it will be one of the biggest events of the year. I am most looking forward to new version of Android and Project Ara. :)

3. Fatal1ty_93_RUS

Posts: 3; Member since: Mar 10, 2014

This is a make or break moment for me: If Google doesn't announce Nexus 8 anytime soon, I might switch from N7 to LG G pad because I use my N7 only at home these days, so portability isn't that much of an important topic for me unlike the times when I didn't have a Nexus 10, and the 1.3" screen size... well, you know how much it matters on mobile devices Also, if Google doesn't announce Nexus 10 2014 anytime soon, I might switch over to either Tab Pro 10.1 or Tab S 10.5 or Tablet Z2. Don't get me wrong though - both of these are awesome tablets, but in the first case I would like to benefit from a bigger screen, and in the second case - well, Nexus 10 is 1.5 years old now, and 4.4.4 will most likely be its last update it officially receives from Google, besides the tablet is already showing how it dated - the Exynos CPU used there and 1GB of RAM just don't cut it even with kitkat

4. SuperAndroid507

Posts: 361; Member since: Jan 06, 2014

More news on Project Ara and Google Glass !

41. bob_monkeywarts unregistered

Personally, I think Ara would sell better... all the people with the Glass Explorer Edition say that everybody stares at them...

5. FingerMyApple unregistered

used to be lots healthier name like gingerbread, but now so much candy name like jellybean kitkat lollipop, im not surprised most android user are end up diabetes... And ironically, most doctor are ios users :)

8. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

"And ironically, most doctor are ios users" World wide or again just in U.S. ?

23. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Don't even respond to that brainless nimwit. You're wasting your time with that basketcase. Saying shit about Android, but has a HTC one on the want it list. That's a troll.

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