Google I/O 2013 preview: New Nexus tablets, Google Glass and Android 4.3

May 14, 2013

With Apple and Microsoft also gearing up for their own developer conferences next month, it is that time of year again when the big market players show what they intend to launch in the coming year.

Google I/O is no different and will most likely see the introduction of a new tablet, smartphone and operating system, even if new Android boss Sundar Pichai has hinted that it will be a low-key affair.

“It’s going to be different. It’s not a time when we have much in the way of launches of new products or a new operating system. Both on Android and Chrome, we’re going to focus this I/O on all of the kinds of things we’re doing for developers, so that they can write better things,” Pichai told Wired.

From tablets with high-resolution screens to pie-named operating systems, here’s what to expect from the event.

Android 4.3

Google only announced the latest version of Jelly Bean (Android 4.2) back in October but already the search giant looks set to take the wraps off the latest iteration of Android – which is said to be called Key Lime Pie (it will either carry version number Android 4.3 or Android 5.0).

The OS is shrouded in mystery and its features are not known at this time. Indeed, the only reliable report coming out on Key Lime Pie is that it may have been delayed by as much as four months so that Google’s OEM partners have enough time to get working on this latest iteration.

Hi-res Nexus 7 tablet

One of the safer bets at Google I/O is that it will see the launch of the second-generation Nexus 7 tablet, but this time with a hi-res 7-inch display.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that such a model exists, promising a 1920 x 1200 resolution display with a narrower bezel, a 5MP camera, a faster Qualcomm APQ 8064 processor and a chassis which is lighter than the previous version.

Kuo, who says the model will retail for $199 – the same start price on the original model, also claims that the new Nexus 7 will support wireless charging.

An upgrade for the Nexus 4 smartphone

The LG-made Nexus 4 was Google’s fourth smartphone under the Nexus brand and, despite only launching in October with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, could be replaced sooner than you think.

CNET reports that Google is phasing out the model, while TechCrunch claims that the firm could release an updated version at the show with 32GB of internal memory (the current version ships with 8GB or 16GB) and integrated LTE support.

In recent weeks, a leaked screenshot appears to show that a white version of the smartphone is also on the roadmap while one source claims that the next model could have a 5-inch screen.

Motorola X smartphone, maybe even a tablet

Google has been pretty quiet about Motorola Mobility ever since its $12.5 billion acquisition a year ago, but that’s been changing slightly in recent times.

The Wall Street Journal reported in December that the firm was working on a device called X-Phone for launch in 2013, with the so-called "X Tablet" to follow afterwards. A device going by the name of the Motorola XT1058 passed through FCC yesterday.

It would be a surprise if Google did unveil the Motorola X or X Tablet at the I/O conference but that doesn’t make it impossible.

Google Glass details for developers

It’s fair to say that Google Glass has dominated the tech website column inches in recent weeks, from news articles and reviews to broader future-focused features on how Google Glass changes the personal devices around you.

Google Glass will almost certainly turn up at some point at the conference, but the bigger question is what role it will have.

The augmented reality glasses, after all, are not expected to become commercially available until 2014, meaning that the Google I/O could be focused more on how developer create their Google Glass apps. There may also be a dive down into when these devices will actually become available.

Babel – Google’s version of iMessage

While unlikely to catch public interest in the way of a new Android operating system or Nexus device, Google’s new Babel platform could be just as important should it launch at the conference.

According to TechRadar, Babel is essentially a new system for users to converse with one another without having to share the same accounts. For example, it would enable users to talk with each other irrespective if they are using Google Talk, Google Voice, text messaging on Android or Google+ Hangouts.

The Babel system is expected to be renamed Google Hangouts, thereby sharing its name with Google’s VoIP service for users of the social network Google+.

The longshot – the Nexus 11 tablet?

It looks somewhat unlikely now, but earlier reports had suggested Google’s 11-inch Nexus 11 tablet was to debut at I/O.

That rumor now appears to have died down, although Samsung — the co-maker of the device — apparently plans to launch the tablet later in the year.

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