What to expect when you’re expecting greatness: a Google I/O primer

There is nothing more primal than a desire: it eats at you, expending taps of energy you didn’t realize you possessed. As I touched down in San Francisco, I got immediately hungry for news, for knowledge. All I wanted was to be a part of the thrashing throng of reporters, developers and bystanders, the people who use Android because it’s great — and because it could be greater.

Google is almost certainly going to show off its newest version of Android, Jellybean, tomorrow during the keynote address. We’re covering it live and it will be streamed from the Google IO website. Considering Ice Cream Sandwich was about as radical a change as we could have expected in an operating system, we’d imagine tomorrow will focus, again, on tablets. Just as Honeycomb was the catalyst for a proliferating Android tablet market, we’d expect tomorrow to expand upon that (largely unfulfilled) promise. Google will release a 7-inch quad-core Nexus 7 tablet, but the big news will be the marriage of hardware and software — Google will show off a number of new software partners with which to augment the lacklustre tablet app ecosystem.

The company has already done a lot to consolidate its content services, launching movie rentals, book purchases and, in some regions, music purchases, directly from the recently-launched Play Store. That they’re calling it a “Play” store at all is largely indicative of an organization desperate to be seen as relevant, and one that knows it is at a disadvantage compared to Apple and Amazon. What Google will announce tomorrow is essential to its future not only as a creator of the world’s most popular mobile operating system, but as a tenable content provider for the fickle and largely sceptical media companies.

We’re also going to learn more about its plans for YouTube, Maps and Google+, as the show isn’t all about mobile. But we’re hoping those core features that make Google an essential part of our waking lives will find greater integration with Android. We’re especially looking forward to the improvements made to Google Maps on Android and iOS; some of the 3D imaging stuff we saw previously blew us away.

But mostly I’m looking forward to meeting other Android fanatics, the type of person with a Galaxy S III in one hand and a HTC One X in the other, just ’cause they can. And I’m hoping to get some time to talk with leading developers, evangelists and Google employees to see how they think Android is progressing, and what impact the OS will have on Canada’s growing smartphone marketplace in the coming months and years.

So stay tuned — the keynote begins at 12:30ET / 9:30PT tomorrow, June 27th.