Google in 2014: what to expect
30th Dec 2013 | 11:01
2013 was great for Google but can 2014 be even better?
Google had a superb year in 2013, adding around 35% to its share price and producing some fantastic devices, but where does it go from here?
Mountain View has spent much of the last year joining up its products, so 2014 will likely see more of their rhetoric becoming a reality – perhaps not through new products but features added to their current line up.
It wants to integrate its services with more aspects of your life, so climb aboard as we make ten Google-shaped predictions for 2014.
1. Beyond KitKat
The recent release of Android 4.4, codenamed KitKat, was a relatively minor update to Android, as Google sought to perfect its mobile OS – and it was a disappointment for those who were hoping for a shiny new version of Android.
However, it's now even more likely that a fresh version of Android will land mid-2014, possibly at Google I/O. What's more, as each version of Android is codenamed with a dessert or confectionary following on alphabetically from its predecessor, it creates obvious speculation about which L-based sweet it could be.
It could be "liquorice" but we'll put our money on "Lion Bar" after the recent love-in with Nestle.
Between Android 4.1 and 4.4, the look and feel of Android hasn't altered much, so expect this to be a big part of Android 5.0, perhaps echoing iOS's colourful design after year's of Android 4.0's gloomy all-black theme.
2. Chromecast for everyone
Google's had a good year with Chromecast but expect much bigger things in 2014. Aside from the obvious global roll out, Mountain View has already said that it's looking to create an open SDK, so third party developers can create their own apps and uses for Chromecast.
The result, at least in the short term, could be app streaming from a much bigger pool of core Android apps, which means you'll be able to enjoy what you see on your phone in the comfort of your living room. What's more, Android 5.0 could see app streaming features as a key improvement.
3. Google does the robot
December's purchase of Boston Dynamics, the robot-building super-brains responsible for BigDog and the Cheetah Robot might have raised a few eye-brows, but 2013 has seen it suck up a slew of small robotics businesses.
Google insiders have called this spending spree a "moonshot' headed by Andy Rubin, the brain behind Android. However, the New York Times has it on good authority that Google wants to shake up the manufacturing industry.
"While Google has not detailed its long-term robotics plans, Mr. Rubin said that there were both manufacturing and logistics markets that were not being served by today's robotic technologies, and that they were clear opportunities," wrote John Markoff.
So what does that mean for 2014? Well prepare to see Google more active in the business market and watch out for nifty advances in the driverless car project, that has come out of Google X.
4. Nexus 10 (2014)
From Google's "moonshot" comes a much safer bet: that the unloved Nexus 10 will get an upgrade in 2014.
The 10-inch iPad rival hasn't had much love from Big G, and never managed to permeate the tablet market in the same way as its little brother the Nexus 7. However, the previous generation of the Nexus 10 was a well-built device, which if put on a serious diet, could rival the iPad Air.
All signs are pointing to a huge power boost, with Sanpdragon 800 and 3GB of RAM all tipped for the new Nexus, which could land as early as CES in January!
5. Google Glass finally gets a release
One of the most exciting gadgets of 2013 was the Google Glass, but it only made it into the hands of select developers, so will 2014 be the year the public can get their hands on Glass?
In its current form, we'd say not. TechRadar has had hands on time with Google's super-specs and the current software is far from releasable. Even the design, gorgeous as it is, has its issues for wearers of genuine spectacles.
That doesn't mean a new version won't be revealed this year, but we're skeptical about whether it will see a proper release.Google isn't historically a hardware business, and it struggled to release products globally and maintain stock in 2013.
Whether it can bring such a contentious and highly anticipated product to market so quickly after its conception is debatable.
6. Google cashes in on PC Armageddon
The PC market has been slowly dying for the last two years, and 2014 is expected to be no different – but we can fully expect to see Google cash in on Microsoft's misery.
2014 will see a huge push for Chromebook and after a much improved 2013, with some stunning new devices at the high end. We'd bet on an upgrade to the Pixel in 2014 and even more top tech at the low end.
Microsoft has shown that it's nervous about low-priced Chromebooks pulling the rug from underneath Window 8's feet, so the obvious way to react is for Google to go even lower. The new HP Chromebook 11 retails for £220/$279, so expect a model to sink much lower in 2014.
7. Android gaming goes mainstream
One of the stories of 2013 has been Android becoming the OS of choice for fledgling gaming systems, such as Ouya, Nvidia Shield and Gamestick, but until now they've been niche products.
With such a stir created in 2013, the market is wide open for a big brand in 2014. At the end of last year, Samsung finally unveiled an Android gaming controller, so could this be the first step into a larger Android gaming strategy?
With its big brand and big bucks it could make a decent Android console, and with so many Samsung smartphones out there, a console could be a huge addition to the All Share family.
8. Voice search
Google was vocal about voice search in 2013, so expect to see it implement its new features throughout 2014.
Google Now – Mountain View's answer to Siri – has already benefited from voice commands so expect a big push for more commands and better answers in other products, starting with the next Android and continuing into other areas...
9. Google in your home
Expect to see much more of Google beyond your smartphone in 2014, and it certainly has its eye on your home. In 2013, it opened a show home in London, showing off existing ways Google services can aid you life, and voice was a main feature.
Chromecast is another existing example of Google muscling into your living room, so connected apps with voice features and smart location services will be the story of the year.
10. Google in your car
Google doesn't make great cars and Audi doesn't make top internet services, so isn't it strange that when you buy a new motor and it features a proprietary system of inferior maps, poor media controls and frustrating voice recognition?
This is why 2014 might finally be the year Android comes to cars.
Android's diversity and open nature means its perfect for car companies to work with, enabling users to finally access proper maps, apps and services and finally bring the car into the digital age.
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