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New Android on Google's agenda

Published 27/05/2015

Google is holding the conference in San Francisco
Google is holding the conference in San Francisco

Google is expected to unveil the new version of its Android operating system as well as discuss driverless cars and virtual reality when its annual I/O developer conference begins tomorrow.

The technology giant will dedicate a two-and-a-half-hour keynote presentation to several new announcements, including the first look at the next version - currently known as Android M - of the Android mobile operating system which powers smartphones and tablets.

A early version of the I/O schedule mentioned the update's M codename, but this has since been removed.

Google is expected to follow the tradition of naming each version - alphabetically - after a sweet, with Milkshake and Marshmallow among the favourites to follow this generation's Lollipop. Android chief Sundar Pichai will take to the stage to reveal more details.

The California-based firm is also rumoured to be preparing to introduce a new photo-sharing service that will replace image-sharing in the Google+ social network. A report from Bloomberg has suggested it is close to announcing the new service, which would throw the future of Google+ into question.

Google also announced recently that it will begin testing its self-driving car prototypes on public roads this summer, and there is speculation that the project is likely to be discussed further.

Areas in which the firm is looking to improve its standing, including virtual reality, are also likely to be on the agenda.

Earlier this year, the firm withdrew its Google Glass headset from sale, but it has since seen advances from rival firms, including Microsoft and the early version of its HoloLens headset.

While a rebooted version of Glass is unlikely at this stage, Google is expected to address virtual or augmented reality in some way during the keynote presentation in San Francisco.

Another area in which Google is said to be keen to improve is wearables, as Android Wear - the software that powers a range of smartwatches including the Moto 360, LG Watch Urbane and Sony SmartWatch 3 - continues to make steady progress. Rival Apple has launched the Apple Watch to much fanfare and reports of high sales.

Google has come under fire in Europe in recent weeks, with the European Commission announcing an investigation into anti-competitive behaviour by the firm's search engine.

I/O offers the firm the chance to turn attention back to its products, and how it plans to take on Apple and a resurgent Microsoft across the major technology markets.

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