Google I/O preview: Android power will take center stage

Google's annual developer conference will showcase the use of Android development tools, maybe a new Android or Chrome OS version

At the Google I/O conference starting later this week, Google will focus on two major Android issues: power consumption and developer tools.

Google executives will address best practices and tools for measuring power consumption in Android. Short battery life has been a constant complaint of users in Android for several generations, despite enhancements to the mobile operating system's power management capabilities. One reason is apps that aren't designed to be power-efficient, so Google's focus on building more efficient apps makes sense.

Maximizing power consumption is a big issue for both Android and Apple's iOS, notes Jason Kneen, a freelance Android and iOS application developer: "We badly need a breakthrough in battery technology as devices capabilities are moving faster than battery tech can keep up." Apple introduced improved power management capabilities in iOS 7 last year, and Google may do so for Android this year.

The biggest problem with Android in terms of power usage is that apps can freely multitask. Even if a user discontinues a task in an application, that code could still be running in the background, eating up power, Kneen says.

The other major emphasis at Google I/O will be on getting the most out of Google's development environment. That includes Android Studio design tools, the Gradle build automation tool, and Android's services and APIs.

It's possible that Google will announce a new version of Android, which was last updated in October 2013 in its 4.4 KitKat version. Some websites report a more significant update, variously called Android 4.5 and Android 5.0, is being readied after several years of fairly tactical updates. (Google declined to comment on the possibility of a new Android version.)

Other rumored announcements include Android support for 64-bit processors and Quantum Paper, the purported design framework unifying the look of Google products across Android, iOS, and, Web platforms.

In addition to Android, Google I/O will cover a broad range of technologies, including the browser-based Chrome OS, the App Engine cloud platform, mobile cloud enhancements, and Google's Go and Dart languages. Forrester Research also expects news around wearable devices, home automation, and even robots and self-driving cars. "Under it all, I expect the message to developers will be this is all linked and there is an end-to-end vision of how apps and software come together with the phone, the cloud, and the physical world around us," says analyst Jeffrey Hammond.

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