Mark your calendars for the next big Google get-togher. Google I/O, the company’s annual developers conference is set to run May 7 through May 9.
Google teased the upcoming conference in a tweet from its I/O account today (Jan. 25), with the puzzle almost immediately cracked by intrepid coders. Google CEO Sundar Pichai later confirmed the May 7 kickoff for the conference, which will again take place at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, Calif. It’ll be the fourth consecutive year Google has held its developers conference at that venue.
I/O is where Google reveals changes to its software and services, occasionally tipping its hand about devices that are in the works. We’re still four months away from I/O 2019, but here’s a look at what we expect to see (and maybe what we’re pretty sure we won’t) come this May.
Even though Google sometimes takes the wraps off of new versions of its Android mobile device operating system through online announcements or side events, I/O is typically where the company goes into detail on some of the best new features wrapped in. This year, we’re anticipating the full unveil of Android Q.
A leak this month of an early version of Android Q, showed the OS could be gaining a system-wide Dark Theme for easy-on-the-eyes viewing and battery saving. That same leak also hinted at a Samsung DeX-like Desktop Mode for connecting your phone to a computer screen and mouse and revamped app permissions settings for improved security from rogue apps. Still, we’re not convinced we’ve seen everything yet.
One thing we probably won’t learn about Android Q at I/O 2019 is its proper name. Google always announces its Android versions with a code letter before swapping it for a dessert item of the same starting letter sometime closer to its release in later summer. Since guessing Q-themed dessert items is proving to hard for us (Android Queen of Puddings?), it would be nice if Google decided to change things up and give us a clue about theofficial name at I/O this year. But we’re not counting on it.
Google was quite clear in 2018 that it had no plans for a Made by Google smartwatch “this year,” the calendar has now flipped. And that means we could be close to seeing a Pixel Watch that runs on the Wear OS software Google provides to companies like Motorola, Sony and LG to use in their smart wrist-worn timepieces.
Code watchers this week uncovered public Android development activity by some Google employees surrounding two new devices believed to be in-house watches, codenamed “salmon” and “medeka.” Mix that with the news this month that Google bought $40 million worth of smartwatch technology and researchers from Fossil, and it seems like the rumored Pixel watch is closer than ever.
That said, I/O is a developer conference, where product launches typically take a back seat to news about developer tools. And while Google’s fall hardware event seems like a more appropriate venue, we could hear about Wear OS features that could find their way into Google-built hardware later in the year.
More Google Assistant
Look no further than this month’s CES in Las Vegas to see how highly Google values its voice-powered assistant, introducing a number of new Google Assistant features for both smartphones and smart speakers. Expect Google I/O to showcase even more Assistant powers and how developers can integrate them into their products.
There’s also Duplex, the Google Assistant feature shown off last year’s edition of I/O that makes phone calls on your behalf. Google is in the process of rolling out Duplex in some markets, so we’d expect a progress report on that and maybe a demo of other ways Google is putting machine learning to work in this area.
At future Google I/Os, your Android and Chrome OS news might all be replaced with just updates on Fuchsia, the multi-device operating system that Google has been building from scratch for at least the last couple of years. And even though those who have tinkered around with its test version know that Fuchsia isn’t near ready to power our phones or computers yet, rumors are that Fucsia’s further along than we think. Some kind of glitzy, on-stage semi-unveiling of the software at I/O ‘19 isn’t the furthest thing from our expectations — or at least our hopes.
As Google I/O 2019 gets closer, we’ll keep you posted with everything we hear about Google’s possible plans for the event.