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Google I/O: What we didn't get

There was a lot discussed at this year's Google I/O keynote, but just not the stuff we wanted.


The Google I/O keynote for 2013 is here and gone, but not without a fight; at nearly 4 hours, it was enough to challenge even the most rapt attention span.

Yet, Google I/O's central keynote event had precious little of the things we dreamed of and even downright expected. Instead, all most of us can seem to discuss is what we didn't get. Well, for starters:


No new Android OS: Despite a preshow rumor that Android Jelly Bean 4.3 would be unveiled, there wasn't any news. No Android 5.0, not even Android 4.3. Your Key Lime Pie fantasies will have to wait for another day; have another handful of jelly beans. Then again, with all the updates and services announced, maybe 4.3 is a way to tie it all together.

No new phones: Other than running a Nexus software environment on the Samsung Galaxy S4, there was no phone hardware news at all. No word of Motorola's mysterious X Phone, or a new Nexus 4, or anything else, really. Nothing. Just software.

No new tablets: In a similar vein, the supposed 1080p Nexus 7 wasn't announced or mentioned. Android, carry on.

No new Chromebooks: Sensing a trend? The Chromebook Pixel was frequently discussed (and given out to all attendees), but that product already exists (read the review here). Instead, the Google keynote homed in on Chrome's benefits in education, and how Chrome on Android is improving.

Sergey Brin showed off Glass at last year's I/O, setting a high bar. CNET

No Glass news: Despite appearing everywhere from Robert Scoble's showering face to "Saturday Night Live," the futuristic, controversial Google Glass was barely even named, let alone discussed. I thought there would at least be some news. Those who made it in now own Explorer Edition versions of Google Glass, and -- well, as for other Glass news, new apps, or hints of what's to come -- there are the developer sessions over the next few days, but that's it.

No Nexus Q: The left-for-dead glowing orb of a streaming box given away last year and briefly sold was rumored for a reboot with games support. No such thing happened, although that rumor died down before the keynote. Q remains, for now, in the Google Graveyard.


No crazy stunts, no Sergey: Google's 2012 keynote earned the company a reputation for wild antics: skydiving, indoor biking, and plenty of buzz, plus Sergey Brin. This year was the polar opposite: we ended with Larry Page discussing big ideas and raising difficult questions in an often somber, somewhat sad raspy voice that evoked Carl Sagan as he stood in front of a sea of Google Maps-generated stars. The rest was APIs, coding, streaming-music services, and education initiatives. Developers might have appreciated the down-to-earth pace of this year's keynote, but by the end we could have used a little craziness.

No smartwatch: No new hardware news, and certainly no curve-ball announcements. Nobody really expected a smartwatch, but recent rumors seemed to suggest that Google might continue exploring wearable tech. We should have gotten the early memo: a picture of the Pebble Watch appeared early on during the keynote, as if to say: that's already being handled, let's move on.

No self-driving cars: Larry Page discussed the value of Google's automatic cars for the future of humanity, but no actual cars appeared onstage, nor was there any news on that front. Some of these vehicles are on display in the main hall of Moscone, though.

No brevity: A snack break or brief leg-stretch would have helped. Luckily, there were power outlets and Ethernet cables under the seats. Otherwise, we would have stopped live blogging midway.

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