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So the Nexus 9 isn’t debuting at Google I/O. Then what is? (preview and rumor roundup)

Just two days to go, and our best lead for a possible Google I/O 2014 headliner is crushed. Sure, the HTC Nexus 9 rumor that cropped up over the weekend could still be phony. At least in part. Namely, the part about the hottest Nexus tablet to date rolling out “sometime in Q4” rather than hot on I/O’s heels.

Google IO

But given the magnitude of the information spill, how all previous hints seemed to be leading up to this, and especially Android Police’s spotless reputation, it’s really implausible they goofed the ETA so horribly. Bottom line, I’d rather believe Big G is prepping the announcement of an Android-based spaceship than that of the 8.9-inch “Volantis” at this point.

Yet something big has to go down in San Francisco. Otherwise, why would the conference be on? For Google to gloat about the Play Store’s riches and diversity? Maybe to update the struggling Google TV platform? Redesign GMaps… once again? Give Hangouts a facelift? Yawn, am I right?

Nexus 9

And yes, I realize I/O 2013 wasn’t awfully spectacular in terms of product introductions, bringing to light merely the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition. But that was then and this is now, and here are our prime suspects for the show-stealing spot freed up by the N9:

Third-generation Nexus 7

They say the end is near for Nexus devices. I don’t buy it. And even if it is, the vanilla Android-running family deserves to go out in a blaze of glory. Now, sure, the rumored N9 is the perfect swan song, with mind-blowing specifications and a titillating design.

google-nexus-7-2013

 

But Google found love, respect and admiration in the compact, low-cost tab market, and there’s no way they’ll throw it all away for the risky perspective of making it in the world of large, pricey slates. So based on nothing but my gut instinct, I say a Nexus 7 2014 is in the works and headed for an I/O unveil. Who’s going to manufacture it? Probably Asus. Or maybe LG. Lenovo is always a possibility, and so is HTC.

Nexus 6

Look, just because some tipsters claimed Nexus 5’s sequel would be based on LG’s G3, and LG execs formally denied they were working on an N6, it doesn’t mean the N6 isn’t on. It just means LG isn’t making it. And I’m not even sure about that.

nexus6-concept

Android Silver or no Android Silver on the horizon, Nexus handhelds, more so than Nexus tablets, deserve a grandiose exit. I’m thinking drums, trumpets, 3-volley salutes, the whole nine yards. Translation: one last spectacular smartphone, with 5.0 (Lollipop?) pre-loaded, a slim-bezeled 5.5-inch or so display, 64-bit Tegra K1 chip, OIS camera and gigantic battery.

Android 5.0

Did someone mention a fresh flavor of Android? Why, yes, I did. It’s high time for one too, as 4.4 KitKat is nearly eight months old, and 4.1 Jelly Bean just happened to bow at Google I/O 2012, alongside the first Nexus 7. What should Lollipop bring to the table? I’m sure you all have different things in mind, but 64-bit support undoubtedly tops every wishlist around.

android-5.0

Various Android Wear gear

I guess I don’t need to point out I’m an optimist, dreaming with my eyes open at the most crowded I/O event in history, so let’s pause that enthusiasm a second and talk backup plans. In case the Nexus project will indeed shut down before long, and Android 5.0 remains up in the air for the fall, Google can rely on smartwatches to save face.

Moto 360 LG G Watch

Watches that LG and Motorola already introduced, but failed to properly detail, and maybe new gear from Samsung. Independent, standalone Android Wear gear? It’s possible, why not? Also possible, though quite a stretch – an intelligent wristwatch cooked up by Google’s engineers directly. Perhaps branded as a Nexus. And compatible with any Android phone or tablet running, say, Jelly Bean and up. There I go daydreaming again.

Chromebook Pixel sequel

Not exactly Android-related, but close enough to warrant a quick mention, the second-gen Pixel is long overdue, nearly 18 months having passed since the original top-shelf laptop launched. Just please Google, whatever you do, keep retail costs in check. Anything north of 1,000 bucks with Chrome OS’ limitations is unacceptable.

google_pixel_chromebook

Android (not Chrome OS) laptops

The post-PC era saw the remarkable rise of the mobile space and abrupt fall of desktops, however notebooks are coming back in style, and hybrid devices continue to slowly but steadily progress. Google can’t stay indifferent to this shifting trend, and so a gradual Android optimization for larger machines is ongoing.

HP SlateBook 14

Do we believe Android PCs will break into the mainstream, say, six, twelve months from now? Definitely not. But steps are being made in that direction, and especially if version 5.0 of the operating system is to debut, new, large hardware might break cover.

Right, so there you have it, our laundry list of everything Google could announce starting in 24 hours. Now feel free to join the fun with extra suggestions. The more, the crazier, the merrier.