Google I/O is rapidly approaching, with the event taking place from Wednesday, May 11 through Thursday, May 12. And the event is bound to be full of new surprises across the board. But what does Google have planned for the smart home and its AI Assistant at I/O 2022?
In fact, there are presently several rumors with regards to the smart home and Assistant fronts for Google I/O 2022. The biggest among those are better Assistant controls for the smart home on the lock screen in Android 13. And that’s in addition to rumors about a brand new Nest-branded hub in the form of a portable, dockable tablet.
What do we expect to be new on the Assistant front at Google I/O 2022?
Now, Android 12 already includes smart home control from the lock screen. But those are only accessible via voice and if users have the feature turned on. Namely, allowing the Assistant to recognize its wake word from the lock screen. Android 13 will undoubtedly be a big part of Google I/O 2022 and that’s where the latest smart home and Google Assistant features come into play.
With the launch of the Android 13 Beta program, the company has introduced a single toggle that makes using smart home products easier. And that could potentially change everything, at the very least in terms of convenience. That’s because the new toggle in the “Display” segment of system settings lets smart home controls be displayed on the lock screen.
And that, in turn, means that users will be able to turn on or off smart lights and plugs, as well as other devices. And they’ll be able to adjust lighting, volume, thermostats, and more. All without unlocking the phone, to begin with, if the feature holds through the launch of the final OS version.
The search giant will undoubtedly have more to talk about on smart home and Google Assistant too. Discussion is likely to include better and faster on-device speech recognition. But the company may also reveal new details about its upcoming shift to more natural AI conversations. Potentially carrying over from its talk about LaMDA back in 2021 at I/O. Or it may choose this year to bring prominent Pixel-only features such as call screening and related features over to other phones.
All of that, of course, is in addition to any new Pixel-specific features Google might launch or discuss on the AI front. Although there’s been no confirmation or reports of any such features, as of this writing.
What’s coming at I/O for the smart home?
Expectations for the hardware front have been less ambiguous. Although Google could ultimately opt to wait until after the event to launch the gadget, the company is expected to announce or at least tease a new Nest Hub smart home display. But not just any display. The next-generation device is expected to come in a dockable tablet form factor.
Details about the prospective gadget have not been teased or leaked just yet. So the size, screen resolution, sensors, and other specs of the tablet aren’t known and can’t necessarily be predicted. And neither have details about what such a device would look like. Google could opt to use a full Android iteration when undocked. Or it could simply utilize the same OS as is already running on Nest Hub devices.
Documentation and code behind the development of the prospective tablet do provide some clues. For instance, there has been some suggestion based on internal code for Android 13 that it will run the full Android OS.
That, in turn, could mean that the new tablet will fall more in line with top flagship tablet competitors. Or, conversely, Google may simply choose to make it a budget or mid-range tablet. Potentially with a great screen and speakers. Although the dock will most likely represent the best audio playback option.
Documentation for the expected tablet has also shown up in a variety of reports. Potentially confirming that just such a device is coming.