Photo Credit: Google
Google I/O 2021 livestream is set to kick off on Tuesday, May 18. The search giant has decided to host the annual event virtually this year — after cancelling its last year's version due to the coronavirus outbreak. Historical records show that while Google I/O is aimed at developers building new apps and stuff based on Google's technologies, the I/O keynotes have become more of a consumer show. Google is likely to follow that pattern and host this year's keynote with announcements ranging from a new Android OS version to some new updates for Wear OS and Google Assistant. The Mountain View, California-based company may also unveil its new Pixel smartphone at the keynote, though it would go on sale in a couple of markets later this year.
Google I/O 2021 will take place between May 18 and May 20, and it will begin with a keynote address that is scheduled for 10am PT (10:30pm IST). The keynote and the entire three-day event will be livestreamed through Google's social media channels. You can also watch it live from the video embedded below.
Developers upon registering for the event will be able to watch live sessions and attend virtual workshops that will begin following the keynote address. There will be specific sessions on topics such as Android, Google Play, Progressive Web Apps, Google Assistant, Chrome OS, Google Pay, ARCore, Material Design, and smart home. Google has provided details about the sessions and workshops on a dedicated I/O website.
Just like its past moves, Google has maintained silence on what all we could expect at its I/O 2021 event. CEO Sundar Pichai, however, suggested during Google parent Alphabet's earnings call in late April that some “significant product updates and announcements” would be a part of the virtual conference.
Android 12 could be the biggest announcement of the I/O 2021. Google has already released three developer previews of the operating system that it announced as an update to Android 11 earlier this year. Details available on the grapevine have suggested that Android 12 could come with features such as a redesigned notification panel and a new conversation widgets on the homescreen to notify users about messages and calls from contacts. The new version is also expected to include features including AVIF image format support and an improved picture-in-picture experience for videos.
Google is also expected to improve privacy on Android 12 and include an app hibernation feature to offer optimised storage. The new operating system will also answer developer concerns about Google's commission via its Play store in-app payments by enhancing the experience for third-party app stores. Further, Google may enable Google Assistant to be summoned using the power button on Android phones. This could be similar to how iPhone users on the new models can activate Apple's Siri.
Google Assistant is also likely to receive some major updates that are expected to be announced at this year's I/O event. Google has informed on its developer blog that some “new product announcements” and “feature updates” are coming at the show. A new, colourful interface has also appeared in some leaked screenshots.
Additionally, Google Assistant is likely to receive some features specifically aimed at enhancing smart home experience. Google is, however, not expected to announce any new smart home products at the event.
This year's Google I/O is also expected to have some new features for Wear OS, formerly called Android Wear. The changes could be designed to counter Apple's watchOS and may include some special treatment for fitness enthusiasts. Google already has Fitbit on board that could help improve Wear OS with new fitness features. The changes could also make room for Google's in-house smartwatch that could be called the Pixel Watch and carry a premium design to take on the Apple Watch. Moreover, Samsung is speculated to leave its Tizen operating system and unveil its Wear OS-based smartwatch that could be announced at the Google I/O 2021 event.
Google normally avoids making a list of hardware announcements at its I/O shows. However, it is likely that the company may unveil its Pixel Buds A-series truly wireless (TWS) stereo earbuds and the Pixel 5a smartphone at this year's event. Details about the Pixel Buds A-series earbuds were accidentally leaked by Google earlier this month. The company also confirmed the existence of the Pixel 5a 5G through a statement that suggested its August debut. But Google may unveil the phone at the keynote.