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Android L, Android TV set-top box expected at Google I/O

Google I/O 2014

Tonight's keynote presentation could see Google give users their first lick of Lollipop, as well as a new Android TV set-top box

Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference is set to kick off later this afternoon, and a few last-minute leaks and rumours have given us an idea what to expect from the keynote speech: a first look at the latest version of Android, more details on Android Wear, and a set-top box running the brand-new Android TV interface.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Google’s Sundar Pichai confirmed he would be revealing the next generation of Android during his keynote speech, saying “I want the world to understand what we are doing sooner,” rather than waiting until the Autumn as with previous versions of the operating system. In previous years manufacturers complained that by making update announcements in the Autumn, Google wasn’t giving them enough time to get their devices out in time for the Christmas holidays, so tonight’s reveal looks set to appease the likes of Samsung, HTC, LG and Sony.

Although he didn’t reveal Google’s codename for the update, it is widely believed Android 5.0 will be called Lollipop – continuing the company’s tradition of naming each subsequent version after a different alphabetical sweet treat. However, it has been suggested that Google will forego the fun naming conventions in favour of the more straightfaced “Android L” brand instead. Whether it will appear alongside the rumoured Android Silver smartphone programme, which is apparently set to replace the Nexus range, also remains to be seen.

Moto 360

Android Wear is also set to make an extended appearance at the keynote, with Pichai promising to reveal new manufacturing partners beyond LG and Motorola, which are both already working on their own Android Wear smartwatches. He specifically mentioned heart rate and blood pressure, saying it’s “crazy” that people visit their doctors only once a year at best to get these metrics checked. Google Play Fit will likely play a major part in this health push, and could come bundled with the next version of Android.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Android TV will also get its first official reveal at I/O this week. Google’s second attempt at a set-top box was the subject of a major leak earlier this year when The Verge showed early screenshots of a work-in-progress version of Android designed specifically for TVs. Google tried this once before with Google TV, but only a small number of manufacturers got on board and ultimately the platform fell by the wayside. Android TV looks set to fill that void in Google’s home entertainment line-up, sitting alongside the Chromecast dongle and taking on rivals such as Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

Android TV

The Wall Street Journal report suggests that the box won’t actually use Google branding, but will use a different name instead. It will likely be a small form factor box, roughly the same size as a Roku or Now TV box rather than a Freeview or Sky box, and will use the latest version of the Android TV interface.

Whether these rumours are true remains to be seen, but with just a few hours to go until the event kicks off in San Francisco, we won’t have long to wait.