Google I/O is mostly a developer event, with plenty of workshops for app developers to get up to speed and learn new things first hand from the people at Google. However, over the years, IO has gradually transformed into a consumer facing event mainly because of Android.
While last year’s Google I/O focused on Android Go, Google Lens, Google Photos, Tensor Flow, Search features and more, this year’s Google I/O 2018 is expected to be no different. Google is expected to touch upon all of its software and services. From Android P finally getting a name, to Google Assistant, to WearOS, to Android TV, Android Auto and a sprinkle of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) developments and hopefully, something more on where Android is headed (Fuchsia?).
While new developments with search, services and the above mentioned operating systems will be detailed after day one for developers, for consumers, it’s all about the main Keynote on the day one, where CEO Sundar Pichai is expected to take to the stage.
Android P finally gets a name
Fancy new features and improvements aside, we will finally get a name for Android P. Whether it’s Peppermint or Popsicle, Google will finally christen its new milestone update and developers will finally get their hands on Developer Preview 2.
While we already had a closer look at Android P in the first Developer Preview, from what we have witnessed in the past, we can expect Google’s Android team to blow our minds with some brand new features that have yet to be made public.
Impressive as it will be, we still cannot expect a UI revamp. So those expecting a new design philosophy or fancy new ways to interact with Android will have to wait a few more years. Fans of Android can expect minor design improvements, like rounded corners, and a darker palette, but nothing revolutionary that would change the way we interact with Android on our smartphones and tablets. We might see some updates to do with the 'notch' implementation with Android phones.
Either way, Material Design in all its goodness still looks good and works well. Moreover, Google’s current goal is to get software updates on time and to try and solve the fragmentation issue (if that’s even possible).
Ok Google! Show me some new tricks!
Just like a Windows 10 update from Microsoft would be incomplete without Cortana getting smarter, Google’s IO event is expected to reveal some new tricks with Google Assistant.
These would include additional language support, smarter and complex tasks, and the Google Pay integration. But Google clearly has some plans to get better Assistant functionality to your wrist.
Yes, Google now wants to get Assistant from your pocket to your wrist. It has already announced three updates that will include smart suggestions, audio replies and Assistant Actions.
With Google Assistant now able to connect to up to 5,000 devices, we can expect Google to show off some cool new commands and tricks on stage.
Also, did we forget to mention the upcoming Android TV device (or Chromecast 4K)?
New Chromecast or a full-fledged Android TV?
Little less than a month ago, a Chromecast like dongle leaked out thanks to the FCC. The device according to the filing was tagged as a ‘4K ATV stick’, and came with decent hardware with the ability to stream 4K video at 60 fps as well. While IO is not exactly a hardware event, it’s the connection that Google Assistant has to this stick, which could see it being revealed or at least spoken about. According to the documents in the filing, the stick can accept voice commands using Google Assistant via a mic on the remote.
What we know for sure is that this new device sure has the goods to up Google's Chromecast and turn it into a smarter Android TV offering.
RIP Tango. Hello! ARCore
While Google did go gaga over Tango last year, the updates on its developments have been far and few. More so Tango enabled smartphones have hardly hit the market, let alone be useful in the hands of consumers. In March this year, Google announced that it was shutting down Tango. So it’s goodbye Tango and hello ARCore this year.
With plenty of session dedicated to Android, AR and VR, expect plenty of announcement on ARCore especially how it can help out with business and education and of course the addition of some cool new AR stickers.
The future of Android and Chrome OS?
While not official just yet, we have our fingers crossed that Google could give us a glimpse or even a sneak peak at the road ahead for Android.
We are all tired of tapping on icons and pulling down the notifications bar, since Apple will not budge with iOS design guidelines (and with Windows Mobile almost dead), we have our hopes high that Fuchsia will be the road ahead for something new and refreshing for mobile UI design.
We have been fantasising about something new for Android (which it hopefully should be a replacement for) and we have seen how Fuchsia OS works thanks to a workable apk. But with Fuchsia looking so much different with the Android we have today, it is possible that it may still be a few years away. But we will still keep our fingers crossed at day one!
This is a rather short list and as always Google will always have a few surprises, so stay tuned to our live blog for the most detailed updates from Google I/O 2018.