Google I/O 2018 is this year’s edition of the annual conference organised by Google, which is slated to commence on Tuesday, May 8. The prime focus of this year’s Google I/O will again be on revealing the incarnation of the company’s popular Android OS – Android P, as well as on addressing major developments carried out by Google in the field of Artificial Intelligence to boost the software, as well as up the hardware offerings.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai will kickstart the I/O 2018 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre inside Google’s Mountain View headquarters in San Francisco, California. The major announcements will be centred around Android P, Google Assistant, Wear OS, Google Home speakers, Android Auto, Android TV, and AR/ VR. But while there are still a few days left for the conference to kick off, here is everything that you can expect from the 2018 version of Google I/O.
As is widely known by now, Android P will be one of the biggest announcements that will be made by Google CEO Sundar Pichai at the I/O 2018. Google earlier this year in March released the first developer preview to let the developers, as well as some early birds, to get the taste of Android P, meanwhile apprising the company of any bugs and crashes. The Android P Developer Preview 1 also revealed that Google is now embracing the notch, a contestable cut-out on the top of the display that Apple introduced with iPhone X, only to be later copied by Android OEMs. There will also be swipe gestures, much like what we see on iPhone X, to forgo the reliance on buttons – both touchscreen and physical.
As the display real estate is evolving into a more tangible form to lure customers, Google is likely to offer the same opportunity to the Android phone makers. In addition, Android P will have some major backend improvements to offer speedier operations. While the official name for the Android P is not announced yet – along with fat chances of Google making any such announcement at the I/O, people from around the world have given varied suggestions on what Android P must be called. The winning name of the pile is Popsicle, sitting in line with the theme of recent wallpapers shared by Google on Instagram Stories.
Since its launch, Google Assistant has come a long way to now handle most of the tasks without hiccups. Now available on Android phones, iOS, smart displays, and Home smart speakers, Google Assistant is set to receive a host of new features at the Google I/O 2018. The theme of the Google I/O this year is ‘Beyond Mobile’, so it highly likely that the Google Assistant powered smart displays will be unveiled at the conference. It is worth mentioning that the smart displays were showcased at the CES this year, however, their launch at the MWC 2018 was pushed back.
In addition, Google Assistant is now likely to get new Actions, as they have been highly demanded by the users. There is a paucity of skills on Google Assistant for smart speakers when you make it sit next to Amazon Alexa-powered speakers. Google is holding a session where it will announce additional Actions for Google Assistant. Its description on Google I/O 2018 website reads – “Learn how to launch an Action that will make your existing services available on hundreds of millions of devices through the Google Assistant”.
Google this year rebranded Android Wear to Wear OS to provide more relevance and clarity to its smartwatch OS. At the I/O 2018, Google is expected to announce support for more watch brands that will now integrate Wear OS. Google recently added the support for Google Assistant on the smart wearables, making Wear OS closer to the ecosystem. There will be more actions as well as features likely to be addressed by Google to give a headway to its not-so-popular smartwatch OS.
Last year, Google announced a new version of the already thriving Google Home speaker range – the Google Home Max. Now with at least three models, Google Home is expanding to more countries, including India recently wherein the Google Home and Google Home Mini speakers were launched. At the I/O 2018, Google is expected to take on the Amazon Echo Spot screen-enabled smart speaker with its own version of a smart display Home speaker. However, there is a possibility that Google may reserve the launch of Google Home screen speaker for its October event when the new Pixel phones will debut.
Android Auto and Android TV
Among the major things that are likely to see an overhaul this year are the Android Auto and Android TV, which have lately not been getting much of Google’s attention. The Google’s Android Auto Sandbox on the I/O app mentions “brand new media experience for Android Auto, both on your phone screen and on your car display.” This means that navigation is getting finer with the integration on Google Assistant, Google Play Music, and Google Maps.
Coming to Android TV, Google is said to introduce an Android TV with a remote. Previously, an FCC listing revealed an image of the new Android TV dongle with an adapter and cable, however, it was soon pulled down. The listing also revealed the specifications of the new Android TV including support for 4K videos, 2GB of RAM, 8GB of storage. It was revealed to be running on Android 8.0 Oreo, along with a dedicated button for Google Assistant integrated with other AI capabilities.
Google is constantly making efforts to bring its Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality offerings to be at par with the competition. Google has already killed Project Tango for the good of ARCore, which is yet to gain traction among the OEMs to integrate it into their phones. Google is now likely to drive more focus towards making ARCore compatible with more devices with improved functionalities.
While ARCore is going to be one of the areas of focus, Google is not keeping its Daydream virtual reality platform aside. While there are standalone Daydream sets already available, Google might choose to introduce new mobile-ready VR headsets that are likely to run without an external support – something that Oculus Go works on.