Google I/O Day One: Softer News, but Still Big for Developers

NEWS ANALYSIS:  There weren't any Google Glass stunts on Day One of Google I/O 13, and there wasn't nearly the same level of hard news as there was in 2012, but it's still a significant event for developers.

SAN FRANCISCO--If the 6,000 or so attendees at this week's Google I/O 13 conference here at Moscone West were hoping for more of the razzle-dazzle that the huge Web services provider showed in the 2012 event, well, they didn't see it May 15 on Day One.

Last year's show was the stuff of legend, featuring the introduction of Google Glass, and an amazing live-video stunt with parachuters from an airship wearing Google Glass headsets landing on the Moscone West rooftop and repelling, bicycling and running into the conference to the cheers of thousands in order to give the wearable computers to Google co-founder Sergey Brin--who was already wearing one himself.

Google also unveiled not one, but two new devices, the Nexus 7 tablet and the Nexus Q home cloud-based home entertainment hub (ill-fated, as it turned out), along with a bevy of new software and developer tools. The 2012 new products included the Jelly Bean version of Android.

(Go here to read Todd Weiss's detailed eWEEK report on the developer news at Google I/O.)

Google Executive Vice President Sundar Pichail had said the other day that "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," and he was right.

Pichail told developers during the three-hour-long opening keynote that they are focusing on showing the latest additions to the developer suite and "how Google services are doing amazing things on top of these two [Android and Chrome] platforms."

Still, Google is expected to introduce a new, thinner and more powerful version of the Nexus 7 tablet with a larger display, as well as a freshened-up Nexus smartphone. Both Android-driven devices have been selling well worldwide for the last year.

One of the major innovations Google is showing is that the phone will have a wireless-induction charging system similar to what's available on Nokia's Lumia top-line versions. The ability to charge up over the airwaves is a peek into the future, analysts have said.

Finally, analyst Android Authority has reported that Google will introduce a smartwatch. This remains a mystery to most folks.

There weren't any progress reports May 15 on the Google Glass beta, which has been in operation for several months. But there obviously has been progress, because there were dozens of people at the show wearing the virtualized video specs. But it was hard to tell if the wearable computers with videocams were actually on or off.

You can bet that when Google Glass gets to open market that lawyers for numerous businesses and organizations in the United States and elsewhere (the UK and France?) will be licking their chops, waiting for the opportunity to file lawsuits involving personal privacy laws that they believe are threatened or broken by these devices.

Also on Day One, Google gave all attendees a new Chrome Pixel solid-state notebook as a keepsake gift. Those are not cheap, retailing at $1,300. Stay tuned.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...