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5/1/2013
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Google I/O: Android Letdown Ahead?

Android fans might want to reel in their expectations about exciting new hardware at Google I/O.

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As we enter the two-week stretch leading up to Google I/O, new reports suggest that it won't be the Android blow-out many folks were hoping for. Instead, there might be less Android-specific news, and there might not even be an exciting new Nexus smartphone.

For starters, Google has published the final schedule for Google I/O, its annual developer conference, and there's an interesting change. During previous I/O conferences, Google has scheduled two separate keynotes -- one to cover Android and mobile, and another to cover Chrome and desktop. This year, the keynotes have been combined into a single three-hour event.

This alone doesn't spell doom for Android -- not by a long shot -- but taken into consideration with other factors, it's simply another clue. For example, Google has clamped down on press attending the event. Specifically, fewer journalists who cover Android and smartphones will be attending this year. It is entirely possible that Google is trying to be more exclusive, but it could also mean there will be less Android-focused news.

Then there are the server logs. New phones are typically revealed in code that appears on the logs of websites. This code often provides evidence about the hardware and the operating system that's browsing a given website. So far, there's been no code suggesting that a Motorola device will make a showing at I/O, let alone anything like the fabled X Phone.

[ Curious about Google Glass? Editor-at-Large Thomas Claburn shares some early thoughts here. Google Glass: First Impressions. ]

At this point, the only new hardware expected from Google is refreshed versions of existing models. For example, an updated Nexus 4, which will include LTE 4G (the current model only supports HSPA+), is expected to debut. The N4's lack of LTE has long been a sore point for many would-be owners. (Let's hope that Google improves the battery life, too.)

There will also be an updated Nexus 7 tablet and possibly an updated Nexus 10.1 tablet. Reports surfaced earlier this week about a high-end Nexus-branded tablet with an 11-inch screen rather than the 10.1-inch display of the current model. Like the current model, the larger tablet will probably be made by Samsung.

Chances for a Nexus 5 smartphone appear to be slim at best.

Further, it is possible that Google will not introduce Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie as originally expected. Evidence on Wednesday suggests that Google will reveal only a minor update -- not a major upgrade -- to Android. The version numbers will jump from Android 4.2 Jelly Bean to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Android 5.0 will be a no-show.

Taken as a whole, these developments begin to paint a clearer picture of what Google may or may not show off at I/O.

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melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
5/1/2013 | 8:58:23 PM
re: Google I/O: Android Letdown Ahead?
Well, the word is that the very slow adoption of 4.2 is what's holding up 5.0. Apparently Google doesn't want another embarrassing situation. 4.2 is still, after all this time, only at a 25% level. Introducing 5.0 at this point, therefor, would just make things more fragmented.
bregalad
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bregalad,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/1/2013 | 6:10:38 PM
re: Google I/O: Android Letdown Ahead?
Maybe Google has decided that Chrome and the desktop are no longer important enough to warrant a separate keynote. Surely all their growth is mobile.
As for Android moving to 4.3 instead of 5.0 I see that as Google taking a more cautious approach to new features and recognizing that it takes a long time for new versions to reach end users. At the end of the day developing new versions of Android costs money and if Google can't get enough return on their investment then the pace of innovation is going to slow down.
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