Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)(NASDAQ:GOOGL) will hold its annual developers conference, Google I/O, on Wednesday. Although the exact details of its keynote speech have not been released, investors should expect several major announcements from the search giant.
In particular, Google should continue to compete with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) in the mobile computing space, updating its mobile operating system, Android, and expanding its reach into a variety of new hardware.
The next version of Android
For the last several years, Google has used I/O to unveil the latest version of Android. Unless Google opts to break with tradition, it seems likely that the search giant will announce a new version Android on Wednesday.
Each successive Android update has brought a number of new features to the mobile operating system -- this time, Google could be planning to significantly overhaul Android's user interface.
According to Android Police, the next version of Google's operating system will include a new feature known as Hera, one that will dramatically change the way multitasking works on Android. Android users would be able to interact with apps without having to actually open them, and the interface will resemble the card view of Google Now. If this proves to be the case, it will be similar to the new Notification Center included in the upcoming version of Apple's iOS.
At any rate, Google investors should hope for a better Android coming out of I/O. Earlier this month, at its Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple unveiled a dramatically improved mobile operating system that borrows many of Android's best features. To stay ahead of Apple, Google will have to offer an even better mobile operating system.
Android in the living room
But Android could soon extend beyond mobile devices. According to The Verge, Google plans to bring Android to the living room -- a new project known as Android TV will see the mobile operating system powering a variety of smart TVs and set-top boxes.
Whether or not Google unveils Android TV at I/O remains unknown, but it would be in the company's best interests to launch the platform as soon as possible, as the competitive landscape continues to intensify. Apple has begun to take its own Apple TV set-top box far more seriously, officially removing the "hobby" moniker. At the same time, new competitors like the Fire TV and upcoming PlayStation TV continue to be announced and enter the market.
If Google does unveil Android TV, it could see the company compete with established video game console makers. Earlier this year, Google acquired Green Throttle Games, a maker of video game controllers, suggesting that the search giant is interested in the space. For good reason: According to App Annie, video games now generate 90% of the revenue on Google's mobile app store, Google Play.
Google does wearables
In addition to set-top boxes, Android could soon be coming to a variety of wearable gadgets. Google has already announced Android Wear, and two devices that use the operating system (the G Watch and Moto 360) have already been unveiled.
But investors should look for more details on the project -- specifically, how it will work, and when devices using it can be expected to go on sale.
Apple clearly has an interest in wearable technology, and its long-anticipated iWatch could debut later this year. According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple plans to ship 10-15 million of these watches in 2014, and if it's an attractive enough device, it could entice some Android devotees to switch to Apple's mobile platform.
Wednesday is all about Google
Google I/O will be the next significant milestone in the growing competition between Google and Apple. The market for mobile devices continues to grow, but more important could be the emerging markets of wearable devices and set-top boxes.
Heading into Wednesday, expectations for Google remain high.