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At Google I/O, expect smartwatches as Android spreads to new screens

Zach Miners | June 25, 2014
The Moto 360 smartwatch could launch, and possibly a mobile health-tracking system

There's also talk that LG's G watch, powered by Android Wear, could launch at the show.

Meanwhile, Google is reportedly ready to launch Google Fit, a health-tracking platform, that might run on these smartwatches. If so, Google would be competing with a growing number of devices like Samsung's Simband or Gear Fit, trackers like Fitbit, or Apple's rumored iWatch.

Google also wants to get Android into cars. The company is working with auto manufacturers like Audi, GM and Honda as well as chip company Nvidia on the Open Automotive Alliance, formed to bring Android apps and services to in-car systems for easier and safer use while driving.

A recent report in the trade publication Automotive News said that Google would unveil an in-car operating system, based on its collaboration with the auto industry, at I/O. The system could rival Apple's CarPlay, which allows drivers to operate their iPhones via built-in displays in cars.

As for the living room, Google is set to launch Android TV, which will focus on streaming media services and shows as well as video games, according to a report in Gigaom. Once Android TV is available, it's unclear what will happen to Google TV, launched at I/O in 2010 and designed to bring apps and other Web content to TV screens.

In trying to pull all this off, Google faces a number of challenges. One of the biggest is the possible fragmentation of Android. Unlike Apple, Google works with outside OEMs on the hardware side for many products, which can create inconsistencies in the implementation of Android. Some industry watchers say Google could unveil a new version of the OS at I/O, possibly called "Lollipop," to address these issues.

As Android comes to more personal devices, Google could see a greater need to make sure Google+ is used as a central identity platform. But Google+, at least based on I/O's published schedule, does not seem to be a focus of the show, and its future seems to be a question mark.

"If we want all these devices to work together," said Altimeter's Li, "having an identity platform is important."

 

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