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Google I/O 2013: an Android developer's preview

The summer is approaching and that means one thing for mobile developers - a whole new set of toys, discoveries, and skills are on the horizon. Seemingly for continuity, Google I/O, Apple WWDC and Microsoft Build are all taking place at the Moscone Center (Moscone West pictured, top) in San Francisco, California. With Google being the first major event for developers this summer, the time is ripe to reflect on last year's conference and let you know what we expect to see at Google I/O 2013.

Google parachuted into the headlines at I/O 2012 with Google Glass. It set a new level for innovation that set the pulses of developers racing in anticipation for the future of wearable technology. But some would argue that Google Glass was a clever tactic to divert attention away from one of the biggest challenges developers still face when building for Android - fragmentation.

Despite the announcement of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, 38.4 per cent of all Android phones are still running on the ageing Gingerbread (version 2.3x). This isn't entirely Google's fault, though - handset manufacturers and operators understandably want to ensure the services they add to Android work. This means end users have to wait for updates, and makes reaching those users more of a challenge for Android developers. As this is largely out of Google's control, we don't expect this to change at I/O 2013. What we do expect is an unveiling of Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie.

We can only speculate on Google I/O rumours, but with Key Lime Pie, we're expecting to see a raft of new features for Android, including Google Babel, a new Google Play Games centre, and a refreshed Google Maps interface. Cosmetically, Android receives extra polish with every new version that is released – a trend we fully expect to continue.

One area where we hope to see improvements is security. With BYOD becoming more prevalent, the enterprise market needs to know that it can support Android devices without too much worry. When Samsung released KNOX on the Galaxy S4, members of Google's Android team must have felt a certain amount of unease: it's hardly the best endorsement of a platform's security when a manufacturer launches its own security apparatus to make the enterprise market feel more at ease. With BlackBerry now back in the game and offering its enterprise services on iOS and Android, now is certainly the time for Google to address this issue once and for all.

In amongst the new announcements, we're hoping that there will be additional tools to help developers optimise their apps for the various versions of Android and to help make apps more secure. It's highly likely that we'll see the next Google handset, the Nexus 5, designed to showcase Android 5.0 in all its glory. We'll all be huddled together to see what emerges from Google I/O 2013. Can it top Project Glass? Ultimately, we can only speculate on what's going to be unveiled, so stay tuned – ITProPortal will be covering all the news from Google I/O as it breaks.

Jonathan Fisher is Android Technical Team Lead at enterprise app development specialist Mubaloo.