Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Google Downplays Expectations Ahead of I/O Developer Conference

Over the past couple weeks, in my discussions with people familiar with Google’s plans for its I/O developer conference, there has been a familiar refrain: Don’t expect anything crazy.

SundarPichaiD10They admit that much of the planned news is already out there — there have been solid leaks and clues about refreshes to mapping, video messaging and gaming products. They say there won’t be a big focus on unveiling new devices, unlike other years.

More unexpected Google platform news, like now-scuttled plans to release a physical credit card, isn’t happening. And even some news that might have made sense, like an update on Google’s kooky Nexus Q living-room device, isn’t in the cards.

Now Google is making that downplaying of expectations official. Sundar Pichai is Google’s undisputed developer king, since he now controls the teams working on both Chrome (his long-time domain) and Android (after Andy Rubin stepped down in March). So rather than two days of keynote announcements, this year’s I/O will have only one.

Asked what to expect at I/O, Pichai said in an interview with Steven Levy of Wired:

It’s going to be different. It’s not a time when we have much in the way of launches of new products or a new operating system. Both on Android and Chrome, we’re going to focus this I/O on all of the kinds of things we’re doing for developers, so that they can write better things. We will show how Google services are doing amazing things on top of these two platforms.

Pichai also pushed out timelines for combining Chrome and Android (in a year or two, “maybe there’s a more synergistic answer,” he said, but for now he defended the dual operating systems’ coexistence), and making Android updates more universal (“We need time to figure out the mechanics, but it’s definitely an area of focus for me and for the team.”).

A mellower I/O is in some ways a tough draw, given anticipation by Google fans and the press of razzle and dazzle in the vein of Apple. But unlike some other companies — that hype up launches that probably don’t deserve it — Google under Pichai is apparently going to try to host a workaday developer conference.

With some nice gadget schwag handouts, of course.

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