Google I/O 2017 will be kicking off next week at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California. It’s the second year in a row that Google is taking their developers conference to the Shoreline Amphitheater, and making it more of a festival than a conference. This year, not a lot has leaked out regarding Google I/O 2017, so that leaves a lot of speculation in previews for the big event, but given that the past few years Google has announced beta or alpha versions of products and services at the event, that are made open to the public in the fall, that’s likely what will happen again this year. We do know for sure that Android O will make an appearance at this year’s Google I/O.
Similar to last year, Google has already launched the first developer preview of Android O, to get out there to developers before it releases in the fall. Many are expecting Google to release the second developer preview at Google I/O this year, which isn’t surprising since it has been over a month since the first one launched. Google hasn’t outed all of the features for Android O just yet, so there’s a chance that there could be a boatload of new features coming in Android O, many of which will be announced during the keynote on May 17th.
Google won’t announce the official dessert name for Android O at Google I/O. That is usually done around July/August when they unveil the statue at the Googleplex in Mountain View. That is typically when they also unveil what version number it’ll be. And if the past few years are anything to go by, it’ll likely be Android 8.0.
According to the existing schedule for Google I/O, it looks like Android Auto won’t get much at this year’s event. With there only being an Office Hours on the schedule for Android Auto. However, it’s also worth mentioning that the schedule usually gets fuller after the keynote takes place on the opening day of Google I/O. So there is a chance that we could see some big announcements from the Android Auto team.
Last year, Google announced that car makers would be able to start making their own apps for Android Auto. Hyundai was one of their launch partners for this, and they had created an app for Android Auto that allowed users to keep tabs on their vehicles. For example you could see how many miles until you need gas, how you’ve been driving (in an effort to make your driving more fuel-efficient) and more. However, we haven’t heard of seen anything else about these apps since then. So it’s possible that this topic comes up again at Google I/O.
There’s been some rumors going around that there will be a big Android TV update coming at Google I/O this year, since there’s a “What’s New in Android TV” session at Google I/O (something that Android Auto doesn’t even have). Now that doesn’t mean that there’s a big update, of course it could also mean that there is a big update. But it is likely to talk about the new features for Android TV that are coming in Android O. Android TV has kind of been forgotten by Google in the past few years, and there aren’t many manufacturers jumping on board, with really the only set-top box coming out of NVIDIA.
Now there is a possibility that Google could announce a new set-top box for Android TV, however that is more likely to come at their fall hardware event. Unless they are deciding to go the route of Android Wear 2.0, and launch a set-top box that is not “Made by Google” like the Pixel smartphones are.
What Google should do with Android TV, and it’s something NVIDIA has already done, is add the Google Assistant to Android TV. NVIDIA announced their second-generation SHIELD TV at CES 2017, where they said that they worked with Google to integrate Google Assistant onto the big screen. So why not make that a standard feature in Android TV? It would mean that users could ask their TV to play “13 Reasons Why on Netflix” without having to navigate through the OS. It’s also something that their biggest competitor, Amazon’s Alexa, is already doing. Of course, if this is announced at Google I/O, it’ll be in the form of a beta release.
To be honest, Android Wear likely won’t be mentioned in the keynote. Google recently released a huge update to Android Wear, just a couple of months ago. So it’s hard to imagine that they would release Android 3.0, or even start mentioning it at Google I/O this year. Android Wear is listed on the schedule, and there is a “What’s New” session for it, but that will likely be talking about the Android Wear 2.0 update, or possibly an Android Wear 2.1, a minimal update to Android Wear to fix some bugs, and change some things that weren’t working well in the 2.0 update.
Also don’t expect any hardware, at all. Google has already released their two smartwatches that they designed with LG for Android Wear 2.0, and it looks like they are leaving the rest of the hardware up to their partners like Fossil, LG, Motorola, Huawei and others. Very few have released new Android Wear 2.0 smartwatches so far, but expect more in the coming months, especially as we get into the summer and closer to the fall.
Google Chrome was a big topic last year, even though it was hardly mentioned in the keynote. And that’s because Google announced Android apps coming to Chrome OS. It launched on a handful of Chromebooks last fall, and it has expanded to a few more, including some new releases. But it’s not yet available for every Chrome OS device out there, and it’s not even available in the beta channel yet, it’s still in the developer channel. Which leads many to think that we may see Google make an announcement, and perhaps some changes to Android Apps on Chrome OS at Google I/O this year. Seeing as Android apps on the existing products haven’t been as great or smooth as they should be.
Daydream and Virtual Reality
Daydream was announced last year, and so far we have a handful of devices that support Daydream, and just one headset. This year, Daydream may take a bit of a backseat, but we still expect it to see changes at Google I/O this year. Hopefully Google will be announcing a slew of new devices supporting Daydream, as well as some new features to make virtual reality even better.
Now there have been some rumors, very few but still rumors, that Google has been working on a standalone virtual reality headset. Something similar to the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. Now it’s not clear whether this will be announced at Google I/O, or perhaps saved for their hardware event in the fall, but if it’s not on the Daydream platform, it may see an early announcement at Google I/O. But the question is whether it’s ready for next week, or perhaps waiting for next year.
This is a bit of an interesting product, considering we’ve seen leaks of it as early as last year. Fuchsia appears to be a new OS for Google, perhaps one that is aimed at larger screens like tablets and Chromebooks. But there’s not much known about it. Surprisingly enough, the code for Fuchsia is open to the public on Github. Not something that Google typically does, especially ahead of a release like this. Many believe that Fuchsia is the new name for Andromeda which also began surfacing last year, and was the operating system that was meant to fuse Chrome OS and Android together.
Recently, we’ve seen some new animations for Fuchsia, which looks good, and look far smoother than what Android is right now. But it’s tough to say how far along it is. Google mentions on Github that this targeting “modern phones and modern personal computers with fast processors, non-trivial amounts of RAM with arbitrary peripherals doing open-ended computation.” Which makes things pretty interesting, to say the least, and may point to the successor of Android or even be Andromeda.
If this is what we think it is, and it’s a brand new OS, it will almost certainly be announced at Google I/O, but whether that is this year’s Google I/O or one down the road, is another story. Seeing as Google will need to get developers on-board, developing for this new OS, it needs to be announced months ahead of release so that when consumers get their hands on it, it can actually be used as a daily driver. Both Google and Apple did this with Android and iOS back in the day.
Google Assistant doesn’t really need Google I/O to get some big new features. Since it has been getting updates pretty regularly since it launched last fall. But what Google needs to do is bring the Google Assistant to more devices, and no we don’t mean more smartphones. But to more devices like TV’s, tablets and even speakers. To really compete with Amazon’s Alexa, it needs to be built into everything. And like we mentioned in the Android TV section, it would be great to see it added to the big screen, and become a native feature of Android TV.
It is also possible that Google Assistant could get some new languages at Google I/O this year. Considering they just recently launched Spanish and French Canadian for Google Assistant in the Allo app. It’s possible that we could see other languages launch, or even just be announced. That would be a big deal for Google Assistant, considering it’s only in English on most devices. Otherwise, we’ll see some advances with machine learning here for Google Assistant, and likely some more integrations as well.
Google typically shows off some features of Tango in the sandbox at Google I/O (this is where a lot of demos are held throughout the week). And with the announcement of native Unity support for Tango coming earlier this month, it’s possible that the ATAP team could be showing off some new apps for Tango. Especially now that Tango is actually available on a smartphone, in the Lenovo Phab2 Pro. Now we would definitely love to see Google announce some more partners for Tango, but that doesn’t seem likely, as Google hasn’t really announced any new hardware (other than Google Home) at Google I/O for a few years now.
Waymo is their newest graduate from there X labs, and while it isn’t a Google company, but an Alphabet company, it is possible that we may see their vehicles on show at the Shoreline Amphitheater. They likely won’t announce anything new, since they normally save their announcements for auto shows, like the upcoming LA auto show. But they will probably show off their new LiDAR setup (you know the one they are suing Uber over).
Google’s keynote this year is only scheduled to be about 90 minutes, which is actually pretty short when you think about the number of products and services that will be at Google I/O. So far it’s shaping up to be a bit of a dud this year, especially since there haven’t been many rumors outside of Fuchsia. However, Google can always pull a surprise out, like they did with the original Chromecast in 2013. It’s something that big companies like Google typically have a tough time doing, since there are so many moving parts, eventually something(s) get leaked to the press. Nevertheless, we’ll be in Mountain View for Google I/O live from the Shoreline Amphitheater on May 17th through May 19th for all of the announcements that Google has.