With Google's annual developer conference, Google I/O, fast approaching, it's time to once again predict some of the Android-related items that I expect out of the three-day event. As usual, there's no shortage of Android rumors to ponder, but this year seems to be just a little bit different. For the first time since Android was announced, we're expecting to see an Android device officially launch at the conference. Exciting? Sure, but there's much more.
Chances are good that you've heard rumors over the last few months that Google is working with Asus on a stock Android tablet experience. The earliest details first surfaced more than six months ago when Google's Eric Schmidt hinted at such a device. Then in February, Android lead Andy Rubin indicated that Google still had a lot of work to do on the tablet front and that the company must "double down" on the initiative. Longtime Android followers may recognize this as being similar to the smartphone landscape in 2009 when Google introduced the Nexus One. Designed as a way to move the discussion forward, this signature handset is notable for being "Pure Google" and the most likely to see future software updates.
As for the Google tablet itself, it is commonly referred to as the Nexus 7, namely because of its presumed 7-inch display size. The speculation is that Google wants to wrest back control of the Android tablet scene and give consumers more bang for their buck. While there has not been one runaway tablet hit on the Android side of the fence, Amazon's Kindle Fire has proven to be quite successful due to its unique experience and the $200 price tag. Google believes you should get more tablet for that kind of money.
The full hardware details for the Nexus 7 tablet are still unclear, but rumors pair it with a quad-core CPU and a price point of $150-$200. More specifically, the processor is a 1.3GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor and comes with Nvidia's ULP GeForce GPU. Additional specs reportedly include Wi-Fi connectivity, a front-facing camera, 768x1,280-pixel screen resolution, and Chrome browser preloaded. Should Google deliver here, the tablet could fly off shelves, perhaps at a rate as high as 600,000 per month. For those wondering about the Oprah "You got a car!" moment of Google I/O 2012, look for the Nexus 7 to be the device that goes home with attendees.
Among other details, the Nexus 7 is expected to be the first device to launch with Android's next major release, Jelly Bean. Early rumors for the candied OS had it tied to a v5.0 release candidate, though it now appears it will be 4.1 instead. Much like 2.0 and 2.1 were back-to-back updates, this should be the case for the Ice Cream Sandwich successor.
Typically, Google will announce the next major release of Android at Google I/O and tease some of its features. But for all the talk about Jelly Bean, Google and its partners have been able to keep a tight lid on things thus far. While I have a few things I'd like to see in 4.1, it's quite possible that it will be a lot of back-end stuff that developers might notice more than typical users.
The aforementioned tablet should be the first device to come integrated with 4.0, while the existing smartphone to get the update should be the unlocked Galaxy Nexus. As for more Jelly Bean handsets, Wired reports that Google will launch up to five Nexus devices with 4.1 later this year. That's not out of the realm of possibility and may actually work to the platform's advantage. Rather than releasing one phone with a brand-new device, a host of partners could work together on tweaking the OS in time for the holiday shopping season.
Watch from home
For the first time, Google will be broadcasting its keynote and sessions live on YouTube. Should you miss the trip to San Francisco, you can still watch everything unfold online. The program is perfect for fledgling developers looking to bone up on best practices. CNET will of, course, be in attendance and covering things from the ground. Check back for more information and reaction on Google I/O in the coming days!
What do you hope to see for Android at Google I/O? Tell me below.