What to expect at Google I/O 2017
Google’s biggest event of the year is about to get underway.
The company’s developers conference, Google I/O, is just hours away so naturally the rumor mill has already kicked into high gear. At this year’s event, we expect to hear much more about the next version of Android, Google’s plans for its Assistant, and what’s going on with its VR platform, Daydream.
Of course, as with every year, there are bound to be a few surprises as well. But for now, here’s a look at everything we’re expecting to see (and, in some cases not see) at I/O.
Though Google already released the first developer preview for Android O (the version of Android after N, or Nougat), I/O is when we’ll finally hear about what’s next for Android in much, much, more detail. Given what we’ve seen in the preview, though, we know improvements to notifications and battery life are likely to be a big focus. We also know customizable app icons for different device types, picture-in-picture and improved autofill are also on the table.
As for the name, it’s anyone’s guess. The company could go the crowd-source route like it did last year, or it could have the name already picked out. The current favorite, though, seems to be Android Oreo — and not just because it’s one of the only sugary treats that starts with the letter “O.”
Earlier this year, Oreo released a mobile game that encourages users to snap photos of cookies with their phones in order to virtually “dunk” the cookies through space. The game, which uses Google Earth satellite imagery, was developed in partnership with Google. Coincidence? Maybe, but we’re still preparing for some Oreo sightings at I/O anyway.
Google’s Assistant had its official coming out party at last year’s I/O, and we’re expecting the digital helper will be one of the stars of this year’s event.
Though Google has already been slowly opening up Assistant to third-party developers, these efforts will likely accelerate at I/O. Up until now, outside developers have had to request access to start building “actions” for Assistant. Likewise, prospective hardware makers who want to integrate with Assistant have been limited to the developer preview for the Assistant SDK, which has been billed as more of an experimental release than something ready for commercial partners.
We expect both those to change at I/O. Look for Google to begin letting more app developers into Assistant and updates on new Assistant-enabled hardware.
VR + AR
The second day of I/O is set to begin with a keynote from Google’s head of virtual reality, Clay Bavor. While it seems pretty safe to say we’ll get an update on Daydream, the company’s mobile VR platform, some signs suggest augmented reality will also be on the agenda.
Notably, Google’s Project Tango lead, Johnny Lee, is scheduled to join Bavor onstage, suggesting we may finally get that Daydream-Tango integration we’ve been waiting for. While we’re definitely due for updates on Tango, Google’s sensor tech that brings high-level augmented reality experiences to smartphones and tablets, the grouping with the VR portion of the keynote suggests Google is poised to make some serious AR news.
Android Wear 2.0 was unveiled at last year’s event and considering the update is still (very) slowly making its way to watches, don’t expect a huge update on this front. Still, judging by the schedule for I/O, it does sound like the team will have a few smaller updates to share.
Though it has been one of the most memorable sessions for the past few years of I/O, it doesn’t look like we’ll hear much if anything, from Google’s experimental Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group. Other than the Project Jacquard launch at SXSW earlier this year, the ATAP team has been very quiet ever since the group’s leader, Regina Dugan, left the company for Facebook last year. And with no sessions on the agenda, it seems like we’ll have to keep waiting to find out what’s going on with ATAP.