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Google I/O 2014: Five Things We're Expecting


We're hours away from Google's annual main event, and the roster of products is jam-packed.

Each year, summer is kicked off with a double-barrel of excitement for the tech world. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) leads the warmer months with its Worldwide Developers Conference, which recently unveiled many long-awaited elements to iOS and Mac OS X. (See: WWDC 2014: Apple Becomes More Like Google, and That's Great News.) But hot on the heels of Apple's annual event is its chiefest competitor Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) hoping to steal some of the thunder away from Cupertino at its I/O conference.

And considering the sheer amount of Google-forged features Apple revealed in its upcoming products earlier this month, Google must double-down on all the product debuts this year if it wants to stay ahead of the curve.

Fortunately, the company is expected to cover a lot, but here are the five most notable products we're expected to see tomorrow.

Android Wear
As the rumors continue piling up for Apple's iWatch without any official unveiling, we've already caught an eyeful of Android Wear, Google's dedicated platform for wearables. But while the promo videos whetted our appetites and allowed us to think big for the future of smartwatches and fitness bands, Google has yet to delve extensively into the platform and dissect its features or products -- like the Moto 360 and LG's G Watch -- in front of a rapt audience. This year's I/O event will likely be the most in-depth look at Android Wear to date.

Android Gets More Bells and Whistles
Although it's less likely that we'll see the grand debut of Android 5.0, updates to the platform will undoubtedly make I/O's roster this year. Future support for 64-bit architecture, something Apple beat all competitors to with its iPhone 5S, is expected to make an appearance, as well as a strong push into enterprise -- given the precipitous decline of BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) and Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) weak offerings on the mobile front.

Desktop and Mobile: Unite!
As iOS and Mac OS start to look more and more like each other, Google's suite of official Android apps are proposed to look more like its desktop Web apps, all part of the "Quantum Paper" design framework. Several leaked screenshots of matching desktop and mobile versions of Gmail have given us an idea of what to expect, but Google designer Matias Duarte said it all in an interview at the Accel Design Conference: "We need to stop thinking of 'mobile' as a distinct category."

Android TV
After Google TV amounted to a colossal failure for Mountain View, Google's standing in home entertainment looked to be hopeless for the foreseeable future. Then came Chromecast, a $35 HDMI stick that was easy to use, increasingly versatile, and a hit with the public. And aiming to build off that demand is Google's anticipated overhaul of its set-top box division with Android TV. Little is known about how Android TV will fit in with Chromecast on the shelves and in the living room, but hopefully we'll see a friendly, symbiotic relationship so as not to cause consumer confusion. (See: Apple, Amazon Will Survive Android TV -- but Will Chromecast?)

The Triumphant Return of Android@Home?
It's been over three years since Google demoed Android@Home, a platform with the goal of jump-starting the home automation movement in 2011, and we've yet to see it officially mentioned since. But after its acquisition of Nest and Dropcam, not to mention some nifty features showcased in the Android Wear promo, Google could very well resurrect the absent brand for a huge push into home automation. We'll find out tomorrow if our Android phones and wearables will start controlling lights and appliances as soon as we step through the door.
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