Monday, May 17, 2010

Android 2.2, Google TV Expected at Google I/O

Google's open-source Android operating system is expected to take center stage at Google I/O, which begins May 19. Android 2.2, code-named Froyo, will run on Nexus One devices with support for Adobe Flash 10.1. Google TV could make its debut on Android-powered set-top boxes. Google is linking Android phones with GM's OnStar roadside assistance service. Indeed, though used from its inception as a smartphone platform, Android is slowly making its way into set-top boxes and tablet computers.

The Google I/O conference launches May 19 and, years later, industry watchers may look back on this instance of this increasingly popular event as a celebration of the open-source Android platform, or perhaps even as the Android Festival.

eWEEK has been tracking the news leading up to this third I/O event and most of the buzz centers around Android. Google I/O in 2009 brought the world Google Wave, sparking a love affair with real-time collaboration software for the next six months. Now Wave rarely registers as a blip on most high-tech watchers' radar despite having more than 1 million users.

One thing that seems certain to launch at Google I/O is Android 2.2, or "Froyo."
Android father Andy Rubin said himself Froyo was coming and Adobe Systems confirmed that Flash 10.1 would be featured on Froyo phones. Adobe has been offering reporters Nexus One devices loaded with Android 2.2 and Flash 10.1 to test ahead of the event.

Android 2.2 is already turning heads for its blazing fast speed on the Linpack benchmark, and for features such as data tethering and a WiFi hot spot.

Moreover, it is believed that Froyo will help with the fragmentation problem plaguing the Android platform by decoupling some of the core applications from the operating system and making them accessible in the Android Market.

Another big rumor is that Google TV, or at least a flavor of Android running on set-top boxes, will make its debut at Google I/O.

Google TV, as it is currently known, is a platform and service that will run Web applications on televisions thanks to set-top boxes.

The Google TV set-top box is said to run Android and be powered by Intel chips, and will make Sony televisions and even Blu-ray DVD players function like computers, running Google search, the Chrome Web browser, and YouTube and other programs.
The Wall Street Journal initially reported the news the week of May 10, noting that OnStar President J. Christopher Preuss said on his Facebook account that OnStar would have big news the following week.

OnStar will certainly be at Google I/O; a spokesperson for the company asked eWEEK to join OnStar for a media dinner where officials will "demonstrate some of our latest technologies, plus give a peek at some new things we're considering for the future."

Make of that what you will, but eWEEK expects Android to be linked with OnStar.

Also, don't be surprised if Google officials talk about Android-based tablets. Verizon Wireless has confirmed it is working with Google on an Android-based tablet.

What better event at which to preview or unveil an Android tablet designed to tackle Apple's iPad, which is looking to lead the tablet sector the way the iPhone has dominated smartphone sales in the United States? Analysts are expecting several Android tablets.

Is there anything at Google I/O that won't center on Android? Sure. eWEEK has heard from one prominent reseller of Google Apps that I/O will also be a big event for Google App Engine, but the source declined to go into specifics.

Introduced in 2008 at the inaugural Google I/O event, Google App Engine lets developers build their Web applications on the same infrastructure that powers Google's own applications.

Again, unless there is another surprise product or platform like last year's Wave, expect this event to be an Android festival. That means phones, tablets and set-top boxes running the increasingly ubiquitous platform.

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