11 February 2016

What's Happening at Google I/O 2016: Predictions and Wishes

1. Smart features and material design for Google Calendar web

This is LONG overdue, and I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t launch it this year. The Android app is beautiful, and I’m eager for the web app to catch up. Also, Google acquired Timeful, an iOS app, about a year ago. It was smart enough to look at your schedule and suggest times to squeeze in your habits and to-do items. It's going to be awesome to have these features integrated into Google Calendar. I’m 95% sure this will happen at Google I/O 2016. In fact, I expect it to be kind of a headline item.

2. Cast from the Google Drive app

This is for movies mostly. It’d be nice to rip your old DVDs, store them in Drive, and cast them whenever you feel like it. It’d also be nice to share Docs and Sheets in the board room. I’m 52% sure this will happen at Google I/O 2016.

3. Audiobooks (and podcasts) for Google Play Music

We know podcasts are on the way, and I’m stoked about it. And while I’m at it, I’ve decided to hope that Google adds integration for audiobooks while they’re at it. An audiobook and a podcast are essentially the same—they need to save your place and let you adjust playback speed. For audiobooks, Google would just need to include two things: First, let you upload your own mp3 audiobooks to the cloud and group the files as a single book. Second, the Play store would need to let publishers start selling audio through that platform. I’m 100% sure that at least 50% of this will happen at Google I/O 2016.

4. New features for Google Play Books

First, the Play Books app should stop looking old and ugly. It’s gone on for far too long. Next, Play Books needs to add a few catch-up features so it’s on par with the Kindle app, like tracking your reading speed and predicting how long it’ll take you to finish a book. Also, Play Books needs a decent search feature. (Right now the search bar only searches the store and not your own library!) But I’ve got my fingers crossed for even bigger things. I want Play Books to become the iTunes of ebooks. Let me organize my library, change titles and authors and cover art if I want, and, most importantly, genres! And let me make playlists, e.g., “my top ten fiction” or “books to read next”. (Playlists should also let you add books you haven’t purchased yet—this would be good for the users and for the Play Store.) I’m 12% sure that this will happen at Google I/O 2016.

5. Chromecast becoming bigger than WiiU

The new Chromecast’s biggest feature, in my mind, is low latency. That means your phone can communicate with your TV very, very quickly. This doesn’t matter when you’re clicking play on a movie, but it DOES matter if you’re timing a jump in a platformer. Low latency turns a $35 Chromecast into a powerful gaming console, a console that could quickly and easily become cooler than Nintendo’s WiiU. Phones are universal—it’s like everyone’s carrying a game controller in their pocket. Which means Chromecast gaming is poised to be HUGE. All we need is some decent games on it. At the last Google I/O, they showcased a group of people playing Angry Birds GO through Chromecast, but that game never launched this feature publicly. I’m 89% sure that we’ll be getting some sweet new Chromecast-enabled games on the Play Store at Google I/O 2016.


Runners up:

6. Something cool happens to Blogger. I’m like 100% sure this will NOT happen at Google I/O 2016.

7. Android will merge the Apps button with the Home button. (I.e., when you’re on the home screen, tap home again to see your apps. Well, a UX designer can hope, can’t he? I just hate having that static, unmovable icon in the middle. It’s one of the last, lingering pieces of the original, ugly OS design.) I’m like 100% sure this will NOT happen at Google I/O 2016.

8. Chrome for desktop gets the SHARE ICON that’s so useful in Android. I can’t tell you how often I’ve wished for that. I’m like 4% sure this will happen at Google I/O 2016.

9. Photos lets you tag faces. I’m like 100% sure this WILL happen at Google I/O 2016. And I'm excited.

10. Google Drive now gives you, I dunno, 100 GB for free. Or 1 TB would be nice. I’m like 80% sure this WON’T happen at Google I/O 2016. Here's hoping.

Thanks for reading.

Let's hear your wishes in the comments!

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