It’s May! You’re probably thinking – yeah we know, no need to write an entire blog post about it. And you’re right. But May brings some pretty fun stuff our way. Summer is just around the corner. May the 4th be with you. Cinco de Mayo, and well the Google I/O developer conference. The show is being held in Mountain View, California and it feels a bit like a developer conference version of Coachella. There has been a lot of news coming from Google lately, but we are still expecting more news. In anticipation of the conference, here is what we know that Google has in store for us next week, as well as some things that we think will be happening.
Google’s latest version of Android is already available for some people to test out. Which means, we kind of already know what’s happening at this point. That said, you should still expect to hear Google outline their vision of how these features fit together in greater detail. On a more mechanical level, lots of sessions are dedicated to getting developers acquainted with under-the-hood changes that come with Android P. If that’s not applicable to you, we’re also hoping to get an in-depth look at the new gesture-based navigation system coming to Android P (though it may be a Pixel exclusive) along with Google’s lighter, rounder new take on Material Design.
The Future of Wearables
It’s been a while since we’ve seen a Google-powered smartwatch. Google has recently rebranded Android Wear as Wear OS in order to reflect the fact that a ton of its users have iPhones, and it’s now put Google Assistant features into that platform. Google will be hosting a “Whats new with Wear OS” session during I/O, which suggests that something interesting for wearable fans might be coming. What that might look like is anyone’s guess. But it’s sure to be interesting.
Everyone’s favorite browser-based operating system is poised to receive at least one big update, and I/O would be the perfect time for Google to talk about it. There are rumors that they’ve been quietly working to build Linux app compatibility into Chrome OS for some time now. In addition, we’ve also seen Chrome OS make it onto an actual tablet. We would be shocked if Google or its hardware partners didn’t have something to say about this.
Some argue that Google’s Assistant is the most well rounded of the virtual assistants out there right now. Which is why they’re going to use this opportunity to highlight changes to the new platform. Or at least – they have to. What changes you can expect, remain to be seen. Google and its hardware partners also showed off a slew of so-called smart displays for the Assistant back at CES, complete with a sleek new interface that’s designed for bigger screens. Lenovo has one, as does LG and JBL, but none of them have actually hit the market yet since the underlying Android Things OS is only now nearing completion.
Android Auto has seen a relatively solid stream of enhancements since it launched back in 2015. Most recently, that includes Google Assistant. Google’s own I/O companion app has suggested some pretty big changes such as a map listing for an Android Auto sandbox. It’s basically a hands-on space. This will make it easier and faster than ever to surface content to users. This new automotive interface will have optimized versions of services like Google Maps, Assistant, and the Play Store. Since in-car LTE is growing more common, we might soon be able to download apps directly from the Play Store and onto our cars.
Last, but not least Google is sure to have some information on Android TV. After all, Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TVs, and sticks have become mainstays in living rooms around the world. But Android TV hasn’t had the same kind of pick up. Based on the published agendas, Google plans to talk about developer features and ways the platform is evolving, which will be fascinating to see in light of the competition. While Google tends to thoroughly show off new hardware at a separate event later in the year, but the timing seems right for an announcement.