It's that time of the year again, where Google shows off what it does best: software.
Google on Thursday will host its annual I/O developers conference in San Francisco, where it's expected to talk about initiatives involving Web-connected devices for the home and its push in virtual reality technology. Google is also expected to tout updates to its Android mobile operating system, which powers more than 80 percent of the world's smartphones.
The keynote begins at 9:30 a.m. PT on Thursday, and we'll be bringing you all the news and commentary from the event. I'll be live-blogging along with CNET's Scott Stein, Tim Stevens and Nick Statt. CNET's James Martin will provide photography from the event.
For Google, the event is a crucial pitch to try to get developers on board with the company's new software offerings. The more third parties build for Google's platforms, the more people use the company's services like search and maps -- and the more data Google can glean from users. That kind of information is gold to the company because it makes advertising with Google more valuable to marketers.
Google is hoping to be the software platform for devices beyond smartphones, laptops and tablets. That includes Internet-connected everything: from cars to TVs to baby toys to blenders.
One of the things Google is expected to show off is a platform to power all those disparate devices, first focusing on smart home gadgets. The software,will be able to run on low-power devices that don't have much of a computing punch -- like, say, a blender or cutting board.
The company could also discuss its nascent. Google unveiled its VR initiative at last year's I/O conference with a tongue-in-cheek device called Cardboard. The company -- which has become known for giving out expensive gadgets like Chromebook laptops or smartwatches to conference attendees -- last year also gave out a do-it-yourself kit for developers to make their own VR headset made out of, well, cardboard. The kit included about $20 worth of trinkets like brass fasteners and rubber bands to keep the project inexpensive.
But the kit was more than a joke. Google has begun to invest in earnest in virtual reality -- the has put out job postings to grow the team. Google has also begun to bring its VR efforts to market little by little. In February, the company partnered with toymaker Mattel to create a new version of the Viewmaster, the iconic toy that lets you see different scenes by looking through a mini projector. Google's version, which comes out in the fall and will cost $30, requires a smartphone to make it work.
The company will likely show off the latest version of Android, nicknamed Android M. The new software is expected to delve into mobile payments, an effort to let consumers pay for things with their smartphones. Google's product czar and Android chief Sundar Pichai in March confirmed a long-rumored feature called Android Pay. Competition has heated up in that arena since Apple announced its own service, Apple Pay, in September.