A preview of what we might see at Google I/O 2012

by Marty Gabel

Expectations are high for Google I/O 2012, which kicks off Wednesday in San Francisco. The annual developers conference often sees Google announce new products and showcase Android software updates, and this year is likely to be no exception. Here are just a few potential things we could see at this year’s Google I/O.

A nicely-priced Nexus Tablet

Image from Gizmodo AustraliaRumors about a cut-price Google Nexus tablet have been swirling around for months. A few weeks ago, benchmarks emerged outing the specs of a 7-inch Asus-manufactured device. Today, Gizmodo Australia got an even greater scoop: Google is going to announce a 7-inch, Nexus-branded tablet called the Nexus 7. It’s built by Asus, and features a beefy 1.3Ghz quad-core Tegra 3 processor, GeForce 12-core GPU and 1GB of RAM with two different storage variants, 8GB and 16GB.

It’s certainly not too shabby for a $199 tablet that Google will hope takes on Amazon’s successful Kindle Fire tablet full-on. With updates controlled entirely by Google, it has a chance to make a niche for itself in the Android tablet market, but whether it can take on the dominance of the iPad is yet to be seen. Here’s hoping Google will also showcase some great new apps that truly make the Nexus 7 shine.

The sugary taste of Jelly Bean 4.1

The Nexus 7 has been shown in leaks to be running the latest version of Android, version 4.1 Jelly Bean. Like the switch from Android 2.2 to 2.3, Jelly Bean is likely to be an incremental yet significant update to improve and enhance Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0), even if the look and feel remains similar.

So far Google has kept Jelly Bean under wraps fairly well, so what we can expect from the update is not yet widely known. Sure, there will be bug fixes and refinements. But with many Android users still awaiting an update to Android 4.0 on their devices, it might be hard for some folks to get excited just yet. There are some rumors about Google introducing better voice assistant features to compete with Siri on iOS, but we’ll just have to see if these emerge. However, it’d be great to see Google introduce some killer features and apps instead – something they’ve actually been doing for a while – despite iOS usually getting all the plaudits.

Starship Enterprise?

In an effort to lure more enterprise customers, Google could be launching more cloud services at I/O this year. Just a few days ago, Om Malik at GigaOm mentioned that Google has Microsoft and Amazon specifically in its sights. The corporate and enterprise market is successful for Microsoft, and Google no doubt wants a piece of the action, especially with the continuing demise of RIM.

Om Malik writes, “In order to lure these enterprise developers, the company has focused heavily on making it easier to write, deploy and manage applications on its platform. It is doing so by partnering with third parties. Two companies I have heard who are in cahoots with Google are Rightscale and Opscode.”

An interest in Pinterest

Over the past weekend, a few rumors emerged that Google I/O could be the place where we’ll finally see the launch of an official Pinterest app for Android. Ausdroid reported on Sunday that the two exhibitors from Pinterest who are appearing at the conference are a senior software engineer and a developer. For some time, Pinterest’s website has reported that they’re in the final stages of developing a dedicated Android app, so maybe we’ll see it released with a bang at Google I/O.

Could there be an exclusive Android partnership on the cards? That’s unlikely, seeing as there is already an official Pinterest offering on iOS devices. Instead, it’s likely the Pinterest app will be showcased on Android devices simply to drum up some publicity.

Whatever news emerges at Google I/O 2012, we’ll bring you the latest updates. In the meantime, check out the official app and keep yourself in touch.