Analysts are expecting this year's conference to focus on Google's Android operating system moving into the world of connected devices

Google developers conference to focus on smart devices

Smart home devices, wearable electronics and an Android update are likely to be among the innovations Google shows off at its developer conference today.

The two-day San Francisco conference has focused on smartphones and tablets in recent years, but analysts are expecting this year’s event to focus on the tech giant’s Android operating system moving into the world of connected devices, in cars, homes and smartwatches.

Pacific Crest analyst Evan Wilson believes Google will unveil a new version of its Android operating system – possibly called Lollipop – with a "heavy focus" on extensions for smartwatches and smart home devices.

"We think Google will directly counter Apple's recent announcements of health products (Apple HealthKit) and home automation (Apple HomeKit)," he said.

Google's I/O event comes at a time of transition for the company, which makes most of its money from advertising thanks to its status as the world's leader in online search.

The company is trying to adjust to an on-going shift to smartphones and tablet computers from desktop and laptop PCs, and though mobile advertising is growing rapidly, advertising aimed at PC users still generates more money.

At the same time, Google is angling to stay at the forefront of innovation by taking gambles on new, sometimes unproven technologies that take years to pay off -if at all such as driverless cars, its Google Glass smartglass project, smartwatches and connected thermostats.

Google's Nest Labs – which makes network-connected thermostats and smoke detectors – announced earlier this week that it has created an application programming interface (API) to allow outside developers to fashion software and "new experiences" for its products.

Opening the Nest platform to outside developers will allow Google to move into the emerging market for connected, smart home devices, which experts are predicting will change the way people use technology in much the same way that smartphones changed life since the introduction of Apple's iPhone seven years ago.

Google is also likely to unveil some advances in wearable technology. In March, Google released Android Wear, a version of its operating system tailored to computerised wristwatches and other wearable devices.

Although there are already several smartwatches on the market, the devices are more popular with gadget geeks and fitness fanatics than regular consumers, but Google could help change that by adapting the world's most popular smartphone operating system for the wearable market.

Google may also have news about Glass, including when the company might launch a new and perhaps less expensive full release version of the $1,500 (£880) Internet-connected eyewear, which went on sale in the UK as a beta prototype yesterday.

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