Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) has invited members of the press to an event in San Francisco on Wednesday -- a “breakfast” with Sundar Pichai, the company’s head of Android and Chrome. There were several announcements made at Google I/O 2013, the company’s annual developer conference in May, but little in the way of new hardware.
Wednesday's Google event with Pichai probably will introduce the public to version 4.3 of the Android operating system as well as a new Nexus 7 tablet. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company may also have a few surprises left for its event, including something called Chromecast. Here are the top announcements likely to make the cut today:
1) The New, Second-Generation Nexus 7
The Nexus 7 tablet was originally announced at Google I/O 2012, and began shipping a month later. An update to the Nexus 7 was expected, but absent from this year’s Google I/O. Due to a number of leaks surrounding the second generation of Google’s Nexus 7 tablet, Wednesday seems like a likely announcement of an updated tablet, which could ship as early as the end of July.
Android Police claimed to have photos of the alleged second-generation Nexus 7. The device in the images had its clock set at 4:30, which might be a subtle nod to the newest version of Android (4.3). The images seem to confirm earlier reports that the next Nexus 7 from Google will feature a notification light and two cameras: a 5.2-megapixel main camera on its rear as well as a 1.2-megapixel shooter on its front.
Full specifications of the Nexus device are expected at its announcement, but LTE radios -- whose absence from the first Nexus 7 was criticized -- are expected to make it into the second generation Nexus 7, in addition to Android 4.3. Specs of the alleged Nexus 7 reportedly leaked by an Asus representative were later confirmed, in part, by a leaked Best Buy advertisement.
These (unconfirmed) specs for the new Nexus 7 include:
- A 7-inch LED screen with a resolution (1980 x 1200) that is higher than the current generation (1280 x 800) as well as the iPad Mini (1024 x 768)
- 1.5 GHz quad-core processor
- 2GB of RAM
- Up to 32GB of internal storage
- 5.2-megapixel rear camera, 1.2-megapixel front
- 4,000 mAh battery
- WiFi A/B/G/N, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC
- LTE/WCDMA/GSM support
2) Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
The 4.3 update is expected to bring several new features, as well as fixes, to the Android OS. Google has not yet announced any details regarding Android 4.3, but we expect Pichai and the rest of the Google crew to release version 4.3 of the device, rather than 5.0 Key Lime Pie, which might be coming this October.
New and updated features expected in Android 4.3 include a new camera app, Bluetooth features that allow users to stream track and artist metadata to devices like car stereos, as well as support for Bluetooth Low Energy or LE (BLE) for smartwatches and other devices.
Find a full rundown of the features we are looking forward to in the Android 4.3 release here.
3) An Updated Google Now, With Better Voice Control
One thing that Google might still have up its sleeves is an updated Google Search app for Android 4.3, with a more in-depth voice search and an update to Google Now. An updated Google Search app might not have made it onto Android 4.3 leaks as it is a separate entity from the OS.
New cards for Google Now could be announced at the event, as well as a deeper integration of voice search throughout the OS. Such an integration would allow for control over more apps or perhaps even new commands. Any improvement over the current version of voice search would show that Google is moving forward in its development, and might help it make gains over competing technologies.
A mysterious listing briefly appeared on a Google Play Store support page, reportedly called Chromecast. According to Android blog Droid-Life, a Google support page showed a device that was listed as "Chromecast." When a customer service representative was asked about Chromecast during an online support chat, they said that it was a "TV" and "cable service" that would be available "only in a few areas" at an undisclosed cost. The listing has since been removed from Google Play support, but our interest is piqued.
Things we are less likely to see at Google's July 24 event:
Google's highly-anticipated smartphone, the Moto X, will likely not be announced, as the phone is expected to be announced at a joint Google-Motorola Mobility event on Aug. 1. Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt was seen using the alleged Moto X at a conference earlier this month. A Rogers promotional video leaked that showed the Moto X will be “always listening” for voice commands, much like Google Glass and the upcoming Xbox One.
Google may release more details about the Moto X in a more official manner at the July 24 event, à la the PlayStation 4 Feburary announcement that preceded the release of the console's design and hardware specifications in June. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that Google plans to spend upwards of $500 million on marketing the Moto X smartphone.
Google could also introduce a new Chromebook at Wednesday's event, although that is less likely than an update to the low-cost laptops’ operating system, the Chrome OS. Google is also reportedly working on an update to the Nexus Q streaming media device, which was scrapped and never released for purchase by the public. A new Nexus Q could be announced at Wednesday's event with Pinchai, although it would make more sense for the device to be released alongside an Android-based gaming console, which Google is also reportedly working on.
Reports have the Google X Labs developing a smartwatch in addition to Google Glass, but the launch of an entirely new product at such a low-key event is extremely unlikely. Google Glass and a Google smartwatch are a new field for the company, and any announcement regarding wearable technology would be saved for a more large-scale event.
If hardware is announced at the "breakfast" event with Sundar Pichai, it is more likely to be the updated, next generation Nexus 7.
This story was updated to include information regarding Chromecast.
Thomas Halleck is a tech reporter for the International Business Times, covering Google, wearables, product reviews and mobile news....