Google IO 2015: the biggest news from Google's mega conference

Read on for what we want to see during the annual developer confab, and tell us know in the comments what showstoppers - or showsleepers - you think Google will whip out.

Pull out your Google Wallet

Now that Apple has gotten serious about mobile payments with Apple Pay, we anticipate Google Wallet getting some love during IO 2015.

Mountain View's mobile payment platform has bounced like a bad check, but as Apple gets into the game in a big way (have you been to a McDonald's in the US lately?), Google can't sit idly by as its biggest rival gobbles up NFC payment-dom.

The world is still wary of mobile payments, especially in the wake of massive credit card hacks, so it's yet to be proven if Apple Pay (or any service) is the silver bullet to the anti-credit card conundrum. Despite that - or maybe because of it - we want Google to swing for the fences with a revamped Google Wallet.

The timing may be tricky as some US retailers are shunning Apple Pay in favor of their own mobile payment system, but we wouldn't put it past Google to corral some big names into its tap-to-pay service circle.

Where the heck is Google Glass?

OK, Google. The Explorer program is several years old, more apps have found their way onto your loved/loathed wearable and you've allowed US consumers to have their hand at Glass, but when are we going to see the final consumer version and its (hopefully) cheaper price?

Yes, Google Glass is part of completely new device category and there's want to get it right, but there's a feeling we can't shake that now that Android Wear has shown its face, Google has relegated its first wearable to the basement.

Not helping matters is the fact the consumer edition release date has reportedly been pushed until 2015, and app makers, including Twitter, are distancing themselves from the Glass.

To top it off, the Glass poster child, Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin, left his company-made headset behind in the car while he attended a November Silicon Valley event, not exactly sending a singing message that Glass is something you can't leave home without.

That sets the stage for a pretty telling IO 2015. Google has two choices, really: either try to re-capture the public's imagination with Glass (or, more fittingly, show it has real-world applications), or keep quiet and let Glass slide quietly out of sight.

We think Google will go for the former, otherwise all those years of pushing Glass on developers and executives sporting them on their brows will be for naught. More critically, with other head-worn wearables like Oculus Rift gaining greater visibility, Google can't afford to let Glass' future get any foggier.

We expect Google to place lots of emphasis on apps made for Glass, especially since its Glass Development Kit will be around a year old by then, plus show us hardware that's vastly improved and/or vastly cheaper than what one sees bobbing on heads around the Valley these days.

When Google met VR

Speaking of things you put on your face, Google's DIY Cardboard VR headset was a fun yet potentially conspicuous surprise during last year's IO.

Google handed out the headset as a little something extra at the end of its Day 1 keynote, but you didn't need to be in attendance to get one because anyone can build the "no frills" viewer with a few acquired materials.

Could Google flush out the concept during IO 2015? We think so, especially since Samsung's Gear VR does virtually the same thing with more premium materials.


Nothing is sexier than cardboard

Whether this means Google delivers a more durable headset, reveals apps and games developed for Cardboard as-is, or introduces some virtual reality features somehow tied Glass, we don't know, but we can say the VR market is too hot for Google to pass up.

Update December 10, 2014: Google showed how serious it is about Cardboard by filling us in on the work it's been doing since the viewer was revealed. The company added a dedicated collection page on Google Play for Google apps. There are now more places to pick up a Cardboard viewer, developers have access to SDKs for Android and Unity and makers scored some new building specs. Finally, Google said it's hiring for positions in Cardboard and VR, signaling this is far from the last we've heard about the DIY VR viewer.

Focus on your Fit

Another carryover from IO 2014 we'd like to see at the 2015 run is Google Fit. The Apple HealthKit rival officially launched as a Google Play app in late October, while developers were given full access to the platform's APIs.

As developers create health-enhancing programs for Android users and devices become better equipped to use Google Fit's feature set, there should be plenty to relay come dev con time. We'd like to see just how far Fit has come in a year's time and what the future holds for Google and health. What's more, who's to say Google won't have a fitness tracking wearable to show that puts Fit front and center?

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.