Google I/O: What to expect from the huge developer conference

Google I/O: What to expect from the huge developer conference

Fresh off of Microsoft’s Build last week, it’s Google’s turn to host its biggest conference of the year. Google I/O runs from tomorrow, May 17, to the end of the week. Expect plenty of news for developers and consumers alike.

The main keynote kicks off tomorrow at 10 AM Pacific, with another one oriented specifically at developers at 1PM- you can watch them both here. Rumors and leaks have been a bit quieter this year leading up to the event than in the past, but there’s still plenty to expect leading into the event. Here’s our breakdown.

Android O

Every year, Google I/O heralds the launch of the next version of Android, and this year it’s ‘O’s turn. Since Android O has been available to developers for quite some time, we already have an idea of some of the features to come, but you can bet Google is saving some of the biggest features for I/O. In the meantime, here are some of the highlights we know about O so far:

  • You can snooze notifications so they reappear when you’re less busy. Huzzah!
  • Apps can group notifications into different categories for more granular control over which alerts you receive – i.e. if you only want to receive updates on specific news topics.
    Inline controls for a notification in Android O.
  • Picture-in-picture video mode which any app can take advantage of. At last!
  • Pinning shortcuts let you quickly access specific in-app features from your launcher, such as navigating to a particular address.
  • Adaptive icon shapes which let icons be circular or square and can support a variety of animated effects.
  • Support for a variety of wide color gamuts, which should finally help color management on Android be less of a mess.
  • The ability to turn on Wi-Fi automatically when you get close to a saved network. Basically, imagine turning off Wi-Fi to save battery for a long commute, and then going home and having Wi-Fi turned on without you having to tap anything.
  • Seamless SMS authentication without having to enable any clumsy permissions.
  • The ability to rearrange and even add extra buttons to the navigation bar, such as a clipboard.

These are useful, but small improvements. The rumor mill has been fairly quiet, but if we’re lucky, Google will have some bigger features in store this week.

What happened to Daydream?

Daydream was supposed to be Google’s big push into VR after last year’s I/O, but instead it seems the company has all but forgotten about it. We’ve seen few phones implement the feature other than the Pixel, and we don’t think Google is giving up on the platform just yet, so expect Google to have some announcements on that front.

Android and Chrome OS

Remember Andromeda OS, the heavily rumored project to merge Chrome OS and Android? Well, it never came to fruition when expected, but with Android apps now able to run on Chrome OS, developers have to think about how apps scale onto laptop form factors as well. Considering that so far the answer has been “pretty poorly,” we imagine Google will try to provide developers with better tools and guidelines for laptop development and multi-tasking.

The Google Assistant spreads its reach

It seems all but certain we’ll have some sort of announcement about the Google Assistant arriving on iOS this week. But Google wants the Assistant in more places than just your phones- I wouldn’t be surprised if the company announced more partnerships to bring the Assistant into speakers, cars, and even TVs.

Credit: Google

Meanwhile, we’re likely to hear some new features for current devices running the assistant, especially with the Apple’s rumored Siri-powered speaker around the corner. Perhaps most interestingly, Google appears to be prepping a wireless router/voice assistant combination.

Android Auto

In line with the above news, Google just announced that Android Auto will be the OS of choice for new Audi and Volvo vehicles, as well as updates to Auto on existing vehicles and in-car entertainment systems.

Apps news

Google’s services are its bread and butter, so you can bet the company will have some announcements revolving around its main suite of apps, like Docs, Gmail, or Maps.

In particular, Hangouts was basically completely relaunched as a Slack competitor, so Google will likely go into more detail about its plans for Hangouts, as well as its more consumer-oriented services, Allo and Duo. Allo could really use a Web app, so don’t be surprised if that shows up during the conference.

Surprises

With relatively few rumors leading up to the event, Google is probably keeping a few of its cards close to its sleeve. We’ll find out soon – stay tuned to TNW for more tomorrow.

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