Google’s annual developer conference, Google I/O, is set to take place this week, kicking off with an opening show on Wednesday, May 11, at 1 p.m. ET. Although the conference itself aims to help developers get the most out of Google’s tools and platforms, the keyword is appropriate for a much wider audience, with hardware and software announcements for products due to be released in the next 12 months.
This year, we could see a number of hardware announcements during the keynote. There are persistent rumors about the search giant’s first wearable device, the Pixel Watch, as well as a mid-range counterpart to last year’s Pixel 6 smartphones. We may also see an announcement of a new pair of true wireless earbuds. And maybe some surprises, too.
Software announcements will likely focus on Google’s core operating systems such as Android 13, the next major version due to launch later this year. Google presenters can announce new features for other platforms such as Wear OS or Android TV. It’s also possible that the company’s ever-growing suite of services (think Google Maps or workplace tools like Google Docs) will receive some improvement.
Here’s a full summary of what to expect:
Google may finally announce the Pixel Watch
Rumors about Google making its own smartwatch have been around forever, but 2022 could be the year they actually happen. There have been spec leaks, design leaks, and a US Patent and Trademark Office file revealing the Pixel Watch’s name. But more important is the presence of a clear prototype of the smartwatch that was found abandoned in a restaurant, which has led to a torrent of photos being spread online.
Among all the leaks, we’re starting to get a good idea of what shape the Pixel Watch will take. The big question now is whether all of Google’s investments (which includes spending billions on Fitbit) can create something that could truly challenge Apple’s dominance.
New Pixel 6A mid-range phone
Over the past three years, Google has followed every one of its flagship Pixel smartphones with a lower-cost version with reduced specs. This year it’s the Pixel 6’s turn, but rumors suggest that the Pixel 6A might be a little different from the A series phones.
While phones like the Pixel 4A and 5A pair similar camera features to their flagship counterparts with less powerful processors, reports suggest the Pixel 6A could upend that approach. report from 9to5Google Last year it was suggested that the new phone could have the same Tensor processor as the Pixel 6 but a lowered 12MP main camera sensor instead of the Pixel 6’s 50MP sensor.
The announcement at Google I/O will come a little earlier than the August launch that we’ve typically seen for mid-range Google phones. But the timing of the latest FCC filing suggests its release may be around the corner.
Maybe some professional wireless earbuds
These rumors are unconfirmed, but a The latest leak from John Prosser It was suggested that Google is preparing to launch a new set of true wireless earbuds called Pixel Buds Pro. Not much is known about their potential features and specifications, but the word “Pro” is usually used in the name of a set of earbuds to show their support for active noise cancellation – which would be the first from a pair of Google true wireless earbuds.
Google currently sells only one pair of true wireless earbuds, the Pixel Buds A-Series, which were originally announced as a less expensive counterpart to the second generation Pixel Buds. But with Pixel Buds now discontinued, Google is only selling the affordable entry in the lineup. Adding a professionally branded entry would be a natural transformation.
A bunch of details about Android 13
On the software side is Android 13, the next major version of Google’s mobile operating system. It’s technically already released in beta — offering little glimpses of Google’s update plans — but we won’t get a full idea of Google’s overall vision for Android 13 until I/O.
So far, it looks like Android 13 is set to continue a lot of the work Google started with Android 12. It looks like last year’s customizable themes (branded with Material You) will expand to include more UI elements in the operating system, and Google is continuing to restrict Aspects of the operating system that Android apps can access by default. Any news about major new initiatives is likely to appear during a Google keynote.
And maybe, maybe, some folding news
Android 13 isn’t the only major update Google made to its mobile operating system this year. There’s also Android 12L, a new version of the operating system that’s optimized for tablets and foldable devices. We know it’s due out sometime this year and will ship on devices from Samsung, Lenovo, and Microsoft. I/O would be a good time for the search giant to provide more concrete details.
In addition to software, Google has long been rumored to be working on one or two foldable devices of its own. At one point, there were rumors that this was going to launch last year, but due to a lack of leaks lately, it doesn’t look like an announcement is imminent. After all, foldable phones are still pretty niche products outside of China, even though Samsung is now in its third generation of foldable devices.
What are the new Nest Hub tags?
With it’s only a year since Google released its latest Nest Hub smart display, it seems too early to expect a follow-up. But a report from 9to5Google From the March claims, we can see one that features a detachable screen that could be used as a tablet sometime this year. It looks like the form factor would be perfect as a smart home console and would also illustrate the renewed interest Google is giving to tablets.
But with rumors of a mysterious “2022” launch date, there’s no guarantee that Google will be ready to showcase the new device this week, if it ever even existed.
Plus updates to its other platforms
Of course, Android isn’t the only operating system that Google runs. It also has the Wear OS for smartwatches, which will almost certainly get some attention on the stage if Google ends up announcing the Pixel Watch this week. Even if it doesn’t, the offer comes a year after Google announced that it would integrate its platform with Samsung’s Tizen. (The resulting software has continued to appear on the Galaxy Watch 4.) It seems likely that Google will have more to add about how development is going.
There’s also Android TV and Google TV, designed – you guessed it – for TVs. And we know they have some new features coming this year because a product manager said so in January. Supporting home fitness exercises appears to be something the company is interested in besides offering more smart home controls and video conferencing services.
Expect lots of Google software and service updates
Aside from hardware and platform specific ads, no Google I/O keyword would be complete without the search giant announcing updates to a few of its many apps and services. Last year, for example, we saw the announced locked folder feature for Google Photos, updates to an augmented reality view of Google Maps, and a new “smartboard” initiative for its office productivity software designed to make its various services more interconnected.
With the breadth of Google’s software offerings, it’s hard to make definitive predictions about which ones will get attention on stage this year. But I think Google Workspace will probably stand out. Smart canvas already has some great new features for Google Docs, and I think this is just the beginning of Google’s plans to overhaul its remote office software.
With some well-received surprises
Beyond more typical product announcements, Google always has a few surprises up its sleeve for I/O. Last year, an experiment called Project Starline was revealed, a video chat kiosk effectively designed to create the impression that you’re sitting right in front of someone who might be hundreds of miles away. Along with other AR/VR projects we’ve heard about (like the Project Iris augmented reality headset), it’s not a real product yet and may not be until 2024 at the earliest. But Google is often keen to show these types of early R&D projects, and this year is unlikely to be an exception.