Update: Just days before IO, Google announced Project Treble to speed up the time it takes for phones to receive Android O. The new version of Android, by the way, is also confirmed to release this summer.
Project Treble aims to cut down on the fragmentation that can plague Android releases, when users wait months or even years to get the latest flavor of Android on their devices. It will be easier for manufacturers to push out new software, starting with Android O.
Original article below…
Google IO, the search giant’s annual developer conference, is almost here. Actually, let’s try that again: Google is calling this year’s IO an “outdoor developer festival”, so grab your party hat and get ready to celebrate all things Android, Chrome, and so much more.
The Google IO 2017 dates are May 17 through May 19, and it’s all going down at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Calif.
The official Google IO 2017 schedule is also out now, letting attendees and those watching from home get a taste of what Google has cooking.
This year’s event looks to be just as jam-packed, so if you’re a developer interested in Google IO 2017 registration, hop on over to the Google IO website to begin the sign-up process (note: you must be invited in order to register). Attending IO is no cheap trip: General admission Google IO 2017 tickets cost $1,150 (about £930, AU$1,535).
While this “festival” is geared towards developers, it’s also relevant for anyone interested in Android, Chrome, phones, tablets, smart home devices, new applications, virtual reality and, among other moonshots, self-driving cars.
Google IO 2017 schedule
Google is also doing something different this year and hosting an hour-long Developer Keynote at 1pm PT on May 17, shortly after the main keynote wraps up. This will give developers a chance to gain deeper insight into how they can utilize everything Google just announced.
A few sessions to highlight from the current schedule are:
: 2pm – 3pm PT May 17. In what will likely be the most well-attended and widely watched session of IO, What’s New in Android will dive into topics such as the Android O Developer Preview SDK, Support Libraries and what Google says will be “other new and exciting developments.” Expect plenty of details on what Android O will offer both developers and users.
: 1:30pm – 2:30pm PT on May 18. In what will likely be a key theme of the show, this session will go over Instant Apps for developers, including how to build them. While this may be a bit too technical for regular users, it’s a sign Google will devote plenty of time – and probably officially roll out – Instant Apps at the show. Here’s more on .
Google promises more talks are on the way, so we’ll keep this page updated with anything that sounds interesting between now and May 17. To get ready for the main event, read on for all the news and rumors we’ve heard so far about Google IO 2017!
Say hello to Android O
While we don’t know the next version of Android’s official name yet (are we in for another public submission process?), Android Oreo seems to be the front-runner right now.
What will likely happen is Google will talk about its next mobile OS update at IO, yet hold off launching it till later in the year. Considering Android 7.0 Nougat didn’t publicly release until August 2016, this will probably be the case with Android O.
One of the most exciting features in the early build is ‘Background limits’. This will make apps less taxing on your device’s battery by making limits more transparent to developers. The feature looks to do for your battery life what Data Saver did for wireless bills.
Android O also currently houses picture-in-picture for watching videos while doing other tasks, updates to notifications, including snooze, and animation support for all app icons.
Google also announced Project Treble in the days before IO, which will help users get the latest flavor of Android more quickly. In a nutshell, Google’s work here is to make it easier for manufacturers to push new software that you want desire to your phone, cutting down on the time and money requirements that were previously necessary.
One final Android O goodie of note is that Sony worked with Google to bring the company’s codec to Android O devices, which will deliver improved audio quality over Bluetooth to your devices.
As Android looks to stay competitive with the iOS operating system, also look for Google to talk up any and all ways Android O bests Apple’s platform.
What’s the word on Android Wear 2?
Android Wear 2 launched in February, so while it’s unlikely Google will announce a major update to its revamped wearable operating system at IO, we expect there to be some talk related to the wrist.
We wouldn’t be surprised if Android Wear 2 apps are announced, and we could even see a brand-new smartwatch. No rumblings of said watch have started yet, but there’s plenty of time before the show.
With Motorola the biggest hold out of the latest version of Android Wear to date, perhaps a spectacular Google IO reveal is in store? Just a thought.
- ZTE Quartz review: The latest Android Wear 2 smartwatch
Google Home invasion
Google introduced its first smart speaker at Google IO 2016 in the form of Google Home (how many times can you write “Google” in a sentence, amiright?), and this year could see an updated version of the device or new features made available to the original.
Considering Google already has the Project Fi and Google Voice services, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for Google Home to suddenly find its calling chops. Phone calling is also reportedly in the running for chief rival Amazon Echo, which puts the pressure on Google to deliver the feature sooner rather than later.
A few points against updated hardware or major new features are that Google Home added one of its most requested features, , in mid-April and the device just went on sale in the UK. Still, if Google is working to improve Google Home, chances are we’ll see whatever is in store at IO.
Google Chrome improvement
Another area of focus at Google IO will be Chrome, and this could include everything from new Chromebooks to improved browser features.
The most likely developments we’ll hear about are features such as . As Google and other tech giants look to more closely tie mobile and computing operating systems together, Google will almost certainly discuss how it’s accomplishing this for the benefit of developers, and the audience watching at home.
There are also whispers spreading Google is preparing an ad-blocker built into Chrome. It’s almost impossible ad revenue-dependent Google would block every ad on Chrome, so it’s more likely Google will introduce a tool that filters out the most offending ads. Perhaps we’ll meet this quasi-ad blocker at IO.
New Google Pixel phones? Perhaps
Google announced the Pixel and phones in October 2016, but that already the , Pixel 2 XL and even a are in the works.
It’s possible Google could unveil new mobile devices at IO 2017, though we’re putting this in the not-very-likely category.
Not only is the distance just a little too close to the first devices’ release, but Google’s head of hardware said with the devices, which puts a launch date later in the year. He did, however, confirm new Pixel smartphones are coming, and if a recent Google investment in LG Display is anything to go by, the new Pixel phones will have curved OLED screens.
Virtual reality, Chromecast and everything else
There’s no doubt Google will announce products, services and/or updates outside of these core categories at IO 2017. Here’s what else we might see:
Like Pixel, it may be too early for the 2 headset, but we’ll undoubtedly have news on the VR front from the Big G. These could include a headset price reduction, or updates related to how developers create and publish content for virtual reality.
On the home entertainment front, whispers are circulating that Google Assistant may become available on more third-party devices, expanding its roots beyond the . This would certainly make sense, and an announcement on additional partners could be in the IO cards.
Another possible topic are updates to Android TV, though those will likely be minor if any are announced.
We could also be in for a new Chromecast as it’s been some months since the went on sale. At one time the best selling streaming video device, Google may look to recapture some of that old Chromecast magic with a new and improved device.
Google is also interested in getting Assistant into more devices. The search giant released a developer preview Google Assistant SDK in late April, they create. While many of these gadgets will be of the prototype variety, expect some commercial products to hit the market with Assistant in tow. We’ll likely hear plenty more about this initiative during IO.
The last potential IO agenda item we can speak to with some authority right now is Hangouts, and by a larger measure, all of Google’s messaging platforms.
Google recently announced two new Hangouts offerings geared towards enterprise users – Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat – but there was quickly confusion as to whether the consumer version of Hangouts would stick around or, as was suggested, the newer Duo and Allo apps would take the place of average-user chat services.
This is not to mention the revamped Google Voice service Google rolled out in January. And with video app Google Duo adding voice-only calling on April 10, the chat app waters have gotten even muddier.
What is clear is that there are one too many Google-branded messaging platforms, and perhaps the Big G will finally drop what’s not working and focus on making a few great chat offerings. In fact, it already started in late March.
This was in an effort to “focus and prioritize” on the features and apps Google deems most important, and could be just the start of a chat service spring cleaning we’ll see the culmination of at IO.
Another likely announcement is the Allo desktop and/or web app, both of which have been teased by Google execs. Users are especially keen to get Allo on the desktop, and it’s a good bet Google won’t want to disappoint.
By Michelle Fitzsimmons
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