Listen up, Android aficionados: Your time has come. Google I/O is back.
Yes, we’re on the precipice of yet another installment of Google’s annual developer conference, the most interesting part of which is always a keynote stream to kick things off. CEO Sundar Pichai and co. will take us through some of what we can expect from Google in 2022 and beyond at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET on May 11. You can watch it live on Google’s website.
But just because the event hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean we have no idea what to expect. As always, we have precedent from previous years and the always-churning rumor mill we can use to make some educated guesses. Here’s what we’ll probably see at Google I/O 2022.
Watch out for Pixel Watch
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For the most part, we expect to see iterations on existing products at Google I/O 2022. However, there’s plenty of reason to believe we’ll see at least one entirely new device this year: The Pixel Watch.
Google filed a trademark for the name “Pixel Watch” earlier this spring. While that’s not always a surefire sign that a product is on the way, apparent renders of the device have sprung up at places like 91Mobiles, showing a circular watch face with a sleek, simple-to-read interface. It’s also rather curious that Google has yet to make its own smartwatch, given its hand in creating Wear OS for third-party smartwatch makers.
This is the company that made Android for years before releasing a Pixel phone, though, so there is some precedent for that. Don’t be shocked to see some more updates about Wear OS to go along with the Pixel Watch announcement, too, as Wear OS 3 is set to officially launch in mid-2022.
Android 13’s time to shine
Google I/O is always a big curtain-unveiling for the next version of Android and everyone expects this year’s show to do the same for Android 13. Based on early developer previews and beta builds, it doesn’t seem like Android 13 will be especially revolutionary, but some of the new upgrades do sound pretty nice.
For instance, third-party app icons can now change color to be consistent with the UI theme you’ve chosen for your Android phone. You’ll also be able to set different default languages for different apps, if you live a multilingual lifestyle. Finally, there’s a new clipboard editor that will let you alter any text or images you’ve copied before pasting. Apple needs to rip that off for iOS, pronto.
Pixel 6a’s potential debut
As is tradition, everyone expects Google to eventually make a cheaper, slightly downgraded version of last year’s fantastic Pixel 6 called the Pixel 6a. It’s not usually an I/O announcement, but prolific leaker Jon Prosser claims we’ll see the Pixel 6a at I/O this year.
As for what form the Pixel 6a will take or what cuts Google will make to bring the price down to a mid-range level, it’s tough to say before Google makes it official. A 9to5Google report claims the Pixel 6a will have a similar look to the Pixel 6, but with a downgraded camera. However, the same report said the phone will have the new Tensor chip Google made in-house for Pixel phones going forward, so hopefully any performance enhancements seen in the Pixel 6 should make their way to the Pixel 6a, too.
A decidedly more versatile Nest Hub
Credit: Brenda Stolyar / Mashable
Last but not least, it’s possible we’ll see another addition to Google’s Nest line of smart home products. Specifically, 9to5Google reported that a new Nest Hub device is on the way with a new feature that could pretty drastically change how you use it.
You see, last year’s Nest Hub was basically a smart speaker with a screen on it. According to 9to5Google’s report, this new one will let you detach the screen and use it as a tablet. Little else is known about how powerful the tablet will be, what kinds of unique features it will have, and how viable it will be compared to more conventional tablets. But, by golly, you’ll be able to take the screen of a Nest Hub if you really want to do that.
While it’s certainly possible some of these products won’t show up at I/O 2022, Android 13 is a safe bet and the Pixel Watch probably won’t be far off, even if it doesn’t appear at the show. Of course, Google could always throw us a curveball, like it did last year with the Project Starline 3D video calling system.
Regardless, Google I/O 2022 could be a decent excuse to ignore your job for a while on a Wednesday afternoon. Can’t hate that.