Google's annual developer conference, Google I/O, kicks off Wednesday, offering a small glimpse into the inner workings of the world's largest company. While the broader event is very focused on the in-the-weeds, practical improvements Google is making to its software and hardware, there are likely some big announcements to come.

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai is set to open the conference with his keynote at 1 p.m. Eastern. Pichai has been a fixture on the I/O stage in the past. But this will be his first time playing host as Google's chief executive, since Google became part of a larger company called Alphabet in October.

In past years, Pichai — then head of Google's Android and Chrome teams — has laid out a broad vision of how he wants Android to expand beyond connecting the world's smartphones and tablets. He has focused on Google's efforts to have versions of Android running in wearable technology, cars, televisions and appliances.

From the smartphone perspective, the company is expected to reveal a new version of its Android mobile operating system, as it does each year. This year, Google is set to show off Android N, which is now in a developers' preview.

The system has quite a few new and interesting features, such as the ability to reply from within notifications. Android N is also supposed to improve battery life and add a multi-window feature for multitasking, similar to the split-screen feature that Samsung has offered on its devices for years. Apple also recently added a similar feature to iOS for the iPad.

Some are also hoping to learn more about Google's long-running Project Tango, which the company has been developing in partnership with academics to map the great indoors as comprehensively as it has scanned the streets for Google Maps.

There are also reports that Google will unveil a connected home hub. According to the New York Times, the device will be called Google Home and will be a direct competitor to Amazon's Echo speaker. The report says the device will be available this fall. Recode had previously reported that Google would hint at such a device, believed to be part of a project codenamed Chirp, but would not actually unveil the product at the conference.

Analysts and company observers are also watching for announcements about Google's efforts in virtual reality. The company has been aggressively promoting its 360-degree video viewer, Google Cardboard, which lets users view immersive video that is powered by their smartphones. But reports, as well as some hints from Google itself, indicate that the company is going to introduce something more advanced.

The Financial Times has reported that Google is working on a plastic smartphone-compatible headset similar to Samsung's Gear VR, also powered by users' smartphones. The firm is also said to be working on a true virtual reality headset — more like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive — powerful devices that transport users into more convincing interactive environments.