Google’s annual developer conference Google I/O will take place this week. The opening presentation will be held on Wednesday, May 11, at 1PM ET. The conference is designed to help developers make the most of Google’s tools, platforms and tools. However, the keynote is relevant to a wider audience. There will be hardware and software announcements for products that will be released in the next 12 month. We could see several hardware announcements at the keynote this year. Rumours continue to circulate about the search giant’s first wearable device, the Pixel Watch. There is also rumors of a mid-range version of last year’s Pixel 6 smartphones. It is possible that a new pair true wireless earbuds could be announced. There might even be some surprises.
Software announcements will likely focus on Google’s primary operating system, Android 13, which is due to be released later in the year. Google presenters may also announce new features on other platforms, such as Wear OS and Android TV. Google’s ever-growing range of services, such as Google Maps and workplace tools like Google Docs, will likely see some enhancements.
Here’s a complete list of what we expect:
A leaked prototype Pixel Watch between a 40mm Apple Watch and a 46mm Samsung Galaxy Watch. Photo by tagtech414 (Reddit).
Google may finally unveil its Pixel Watch
Rumours of Google creating its own smartwatch have been circulating for years. But 2022 could be the year it happens. There have been design leaks, spec leaks and a US Patent and Trademark Office filing that revealed the name of the Pixel Watch. The most significant thing is the apparent prototype of this smartwatch that was found abandoned in a restaurant. This led to a flood of online photos.
We are starting to get a good idea of the shape that the Pixel Watch will take, thanks to all the leaks. The big question is whether all of Google’s investments, which include billions of dollars on Fitbit, can create something that can challenge Apple’s dominance.
Unofficial renderings of the Pixel 6A’s design. Image: Steve Hemmerstoffer/ 91Mobiles
A new midrange Pixel 6A
Google has offered a cheaper version of each of its flagship Pixel smartphones for the past three years with lower specs. The Pixel 6 will be the next flagship smartphone from Google, but rumors suggest that the Pixel 6A may be a bit different than the A-series handsets.
The Pixel 4A and 5A had similar camera features to their flagship phones, but the Pixel 6A could reverse this trend, according to reports. According to 9to5Google, the new phone could have the same Tensor processor that the Pixel 6, but a lower-quality main camera sensor of 12-megapixels instead of the Pixel 6’s 50-megapixel sensor.
An announcement at Google I/O might come a bit earlier than the August launches of midrange phones. However, a recent FCC filing suggests that it could be on the horizon.
Perhaps some wireless earbuds for professionals
Although this rumor is not confirmed, Jon Prosser recently leaked that Google is planning to release a new line of true wireless earbuds, the Pixel Buds Pro. Although not much information is available about their potential features or specs, the use of “Pro” in the title of a set is usually used to indicate that they support active noise cancellation — which would be the first time for a pair true wireless Google earbuds.
Google currently sells only one pair of true wireless headphones, the Pixel Buds A-Series. These were originally launched as an affordable alternative to the second-generation Pixel Buds. Google now only sells the entry-level Pixel Buds, which have been discontinued. It would be a natural change to add a Pro-branded entry.
Android 13: A lot of details
Android 13 is the next major version for Google’s mobile operating systems. Although it’s technically been released in beta, we have only glimpses of Google’s plans for the update. However, it won’t until I/O when we will get a complete picture of Google’s overall vision of Android 13.
It seems that Android 13 will continue much of the work Google began with Android 12. The customizable themes, branded Material You last year, are likely to be expanded to cover more UI elements in Android 13. Google is also continuing to limit the access that Android apps have to certain parts of the operating systems. During Google’s keynote, there will be no news on major new initiatives.
Maybe some foldable news?
Android 13 isn’t the only major update Google is bringing to its mobile OS this yea. Android 12L is a new version that’s optimized for tablets and foldable phones. It will be available on all devices made by Microsoft, Samsung, Lenovo and Lenovo. The search giant could provide more details at I/O.
Google is rumored to be developing one or two foldable devices. There were rumors at one point that these devices would launch in the last year. However, there haven’t been any leaks recently so it doesn’t seem like an announcement is imminent. Despite Samsung’s third generation of foldable phones, these phones are still very niche products.
Are there signs of a new Nest Hub in the works?
It seems premature to expect a second Nest Hub smart display from Google, considering it has been only one year since the last Nest Hub smart display was released. 9to5Google reported in March that they could see one with a removable screen that could be used to create a tablet. This form factor would make a great smart home controller, and would explain the increased attention Google gives tablets.
Google has a vaguely rumored launch date for “2022”, but it’s not certain that the new device will be available to users this week.
Image: Evan Blass/91Mobiles
Plus, updates for its other platforms
Google manages many other operating systems, including Android. Google also manages Wear OS for smartwatches. This will almost certainly get some attention if Google announces its Pixel Watch this week. Even if it does not, it comes one year after Google announced that it would merge its platform with Samsung Tizen. The resulting software was later featured on the Galaxy Watch 4. It is likely that Google will continue to improve on the development process.
It also offers Android TV and Google TV software. These are made for TVs, you guessed. We know that they have new features this year, as one of their product managers stated back in January. The company seems to be interested in home fitness workouts, as well as offering more smart home controls or video conferencing services.
Expect a plethora Google software and service updates
Apart from platform-specific announcements and hardware announcements, a Google I/O keynote would not be complete without the search giant announcing updates to a few of its many apps and services. For example, last year we saw an announcement of a locked folder feature for Google Photos, updates for Google Maps’ augmented real view, and a new initiative called “smart canvas” for its office productivity software, which is designed to make its various services more connected.
It’s hard to predict which of Google’s software offerings will be the most popular this year, given their wide range. However, I think Google Workspace will be prominently featured. Google’s “Smart canvas” feature has already brought some new features to Google Docs. I suspect this is just the beginning of Google’s plans for a complete overhaul of its remote office software.
Some surprises added for good measure
Google has more than just product announcements. It always has some surprises for I/O. Google unveiled Project Starline last year, a video chat room that gives the illusion of being in direct conversation with someone hundreds of miles away. It’s not yet a product and may not be available until 2024, as it is with other AR/VR projects we’ve heard of (like Project Iris’ augmented reality headset). Google is keen to showcase these types of early R&D projects and this year is no exception.