What to expect at Google I/O 2011

With more than 20 sessions on tap for the annual developer conference, Android will play a key role. But what exactly will be announced?

Scott Webster
Scott Webster has spent the better part of his adult life playing with cell phones and gadgets. When not looking for the latest Android news and rumors, he relaxes with his wife and son. Scott also is the senior editor for AndroidGuys. E-mail Scott.
Scott Webster
3 min read

With Google I/O 2011 less than two weeks away, I wanted to take this opportunity to round up a few potential Android-related announcements. The annual Google developer event has grown to include more Android news each year, and this event will follow suit. Indeed, Android is listed in at least 21 of the sessions scheduled for May 10-11, with topics ranging from Honeycomb and 3D gaming to NFC and Android Market tools. Two keynotes will be covered live by CNET; expect tomorrow's session to focus on Android with Wednesday's session switching to Chrome. And on that note, Samsung has a press conference on Wednesday night where we could see a Chrome-based device.

Google TV
Looking closer at some of the sessions, I expect to see a heavy, if not renewed, focus on Google TV. When the service was announced last year, we knew that the SDK and true integration of the Android Market wouldn't happen until 2011. Next month, developers will get a pair of classes that address development for Google TV while using Android or Web (HTML5 and Flash) apps. As a result, I predict that developers soon will be offered the tools to code for Google TV and Android Market support for distribution.

OS updates
More than a few of the sessions will cover Gingerbread and Honeycomb features such as NFC, high-end 3D, and hardware acceleration, so expect that the Google team will demonstrate new games and applications that take advantage of the updates. They might come in the form of high-profile developers or industry partners announcing titles in conjunction with the conference. A few names that might be worth watching include War Drum Studios, Gameloft, Catch, and Com2uS.

As we've heard before, Gingerbread and Honeycomb features are beginning to converge for the next major Android release, Ice Cream Sandwich. It's very possible that we'll see the next version of Android demonstrated, if not fully announced. Among the features expected for inclusion are improved copy and paste, enhanced notifications, multicore processor support, and a persistent action bar.

Android Market
As for the Android Market, we may get our first look at how music and movies will be integrated. Back in February, we found that Google has a few related domain names that point through to the Market. At the time they were discovered, books were not yet offered in the Android Market, yet they launched with Android 3.0 and the Motorola Xoom.

Vic Gundotra, senior vice president of Social at Google, gave attendees a very early glimpse of music streaming at last year's Google I/O, promising it was coming to the Market at some point in the future. With Amazon having recently launched its own cloud-based music-streaming service and Android application, now would be a good time for Google to answer. Even if things are not completely ready for launch, I'd anticipate seeing how things have progressed on this front.

Also, we're still waiting for content ratings to find their way into apps and games. Nearly six months after we first learned they would be offered, Google has yet to turn them on. Given that a test version of the new Android Market recently landed on a few handsets, Google might be wrapping things up in time for the conference.

I'm curious to hear what you might be expecting at Google I/O 2011. Is there a certain feature or service that you've been waiting to see?