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Last-minute Google I/O rumor roundup: Maps, Spotify killers, and the Google Galaxy S4

Ian Paul | May 16, 2013
The Google I/O keynote for 2013 is just a few hours away, and this year's kickoff to the company's developer conference is shaping up to be one for the record books.

The Google I/O keynote for 2013 is just a few hours away, and this year's kickoff to the company's developer conference is shaping up to be one for the record books.

On tap for Google I/O 2013 are expectations for an Android refresh, new Google-licious hardware, a whole lot of gaming, and maybe--just maybe--some talk about Glass. (If we're lucky, Google might even throw a Glass-enabled Fred Armisen from a plane.)

Beyond those previous whispers, the ramp-up to the show has seen the launch of a revamped Google Play Store and a slew of new rumors of what might be on tap, from a potential Spotify killer to a "Google Galaxy S4." Let's dive in to the latest Google-flavored reports and updates flying around the Web.

Google music streaming
Google is getting ready to take on Spotify this week with a new music streaming subscription service on Google Play, according to both The Wall Street Journal and The Verge. The company has reportedly signed deals with the major U.S. recording labels--Sony, Universal, and Warner--ensuring a deep catalog at launch. It's not clear if Google will announce its streaming service on Wednesday during the I/O keynote, but it's certainly a good bet if this turns out to be the real deal.

There have also been reports about a music streaming service coming to YouTube. However, there are currently conflicting reports about whether a YouTube music service would be announced at the same time as the purported Play-based version.

A new streaming service from Google could spell trouble for smaller companies like Spotify and Pandora, which have a tough time turning a profit as most of their revenue goes towards music royalties. Google, on the other hand, can afford to break even with a streaming service as long as it encourages people to use Android devices and Google's ad-supported online services such as search.

Google Maps
Droid Life recently spotted a sign-up page for a new version of Google Maps that briefly went live late Tuesday. Like everything Google does these days, the new version of Maps will reportedly focus on personalization, offering maps tailored to your searches: think en-route restaurant suggestions or even faster ways home.

Based on the screenshots over at Droid Life, it also incorporates a wider array of Maps-related services into one spot including Google Earth, Google Ocean, and flight search.

New Play Store
This morning, Google released version 4.1.6 of the Play Store. The company says the update will make it easier to browse and discover new apps, games, music, and movies. The new look maintains the same basic layout as other Play 4.x versions, but the new app does add eye-catching, color-coded buttons for each of the major sections of the store. (Books, apps, games, etc.)

 

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