04 February 2013

What I Expect at Google I/O 2013

(Google I/O is scheduled for May 15-17, 2013—and it only took 20 minutes for tickets to sell out! Now, below are the speculations of a Google Maniac—all of this is sure to come eventually, but is spring too soon to hope for?)

Google Play

I hope they make Google Music available offline for web. This is important especially if you have a Chromebook. 

I hope they’ll release an updated web interface for Google Music. Right now it’s clunky and ugly—nothing close to iTunes. It’s great that Google Music is slim; but a smoother interface with a few more features wouldn’t hurt either. Maybe add some audiobook and podcast support (so I can speed up playback and remember the playback position). And, most of all, make it beautiful.

They also need an updated Google Music Android app—one that lets you edit metadata would be nice. 

And speaking of clunky and ugly, will they brand the Play store like the rest of Google, with its simple, clean style soon? The Google visual update that moved across Gmail, Drive, and the rest is beautiful—a great color theme with a smooth and simple aesthetic. Google Play branding clashes with the rest of Google big time. It’s so ugly, it makes me never want to buy anything there. Egad—those colors. 

Here’s why I think this might actually be on the way: Google Play is the last of Google to still use the old Google bar. The fact that they haven’t updated it yet makes me think it might be coming...

And maybe we’ll get a little of this too: 

Google Tasks

iPhone announced reminders a couple updates back. Google has Tasks, but it isn’t integrated into the Android OS yet. There isn’t even an official Android app. And this means you can’t tell Google Now to add items to your checklists (like Siri can). And the web app for Tasks seems like an afterthought in Gmail and Calendar. It would be awesome if they would give Tasks the attention it deserves, including an official Android app and Google Now integration.

Google Now

We KNOW Google’s got some cool stuff coming with Google Now—they’ve already added a lot of features since it was launched, and its potential is almost unlimited (and maybe a bit scary). In spite of this, I hope Google I/O 2013 announces some updates. As I mentioned, I hope they integrate it with Google Tasks. 

It looks like Google Now will become a Notification Center like on iOS (only way better). If the leak is correct, it will be available in Chrome OS too. This likely means that Google Chat, Google Voice, Google Hangouts, and Google Messenger will all get rolled into one—and be available on desktop and mobile! Suweet. 

I’d also like to be able to tell Google Now to play a song in my library (Siri can do this, right?). Right now when I request a song, it loads it up on YouTube. That’s fine for the stuff I don’t own, but not okay for the stuff I do. UPDATE: This was added in the recent Android 4.2.2. And it’s pretty great.

I also wish they’d give me updates on artists I like: “Guess what, there’s a new Jack’s Mannequin album out today!” Stuff like that. It should automatically give me updates on any artist whose song I’ve listened to over 50 times. I don’t want to know about everybody in my library—just the ones I really love—and it already has the data to know this.

Google Now should be connected with all Google products, like Analytics and Blogger—“Good news! jwashburn.com just passed 20,000 views!”—or Google+—“Since you searched for Dan Brown, you might want to know his new book, Inferno, comes out this spring.”


Wouldn’t it be great if the rumors about the Chromebook Pixel were true? (And I’ll leave it at that.)


Key Lime Pie

Rumors say they’re going to release a 5-inch Motorola Google Nexus X phone.

With that, I hope they announce Android’s Key Lime Pie update with some key UI changes:

A freshman in design 101 knows that you need to align your design to some sort of grid—it needs a consistent structure. Having 3-4 different grids in one UI is horrible. The picture illustrates the problem. The solution is pretty simple: Align the elements to a grid.

Along with this, I’m hoping they’ll let you change the number of homescreens from 5 down to 3 (or 2). Heck, why not make it automatically add them when you need them like iOS does?

Nexus Q²

The Nexus Q was announced last year. And then it quietly disappeared. Why? Not because it wasn’t cool. It did its job super well. It failed because it didn’t do enough. It was great for music, but why didn’t it handle video too?

I wouldn’t be surprised if they announced the new Q² with full features—so you can play music and video through your phone to your TV. And why not put a USB 3 hookup on it, so you can store your movies on a HDD and use it as the ultimate home theater? (I’m still dreaming of the day where you can have just one controller for your whole system, and not an ugly universal remote.) The Q² could be a revolution in the home theater world. Let’s cross our fingers that it’s here.

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— J