Google I/O conference 2021: what to expect and where to watch

google i/o conference

Google’s annual I/O conference is scheduled for next week (18 May), and we can expect some major announcements from Google at this event. There is a lot that Google needs to share as last year the company skipped the conference due to the pandemic.

This year the conference is going to be held virtually and anyone can join online by registering for the event.

The event will run from May 18 through 20, the opening keynote will start at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET and you can also know about the official schedule here.

What to expect from Google I/O

Android 12 could bring the biggest visual change to the operating system in years. Leaked screenshots emerged earlier this year showing a new interface, widgets, and privacy features.

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It’s likely Google will announce the public beta of Android 12 at Google I/O, so we could see the first official look at Android’s new paint job, too. The timing of I/O also roughly lines up with Google’s schedule shown below for Android 12 beta releases. 

Pixel Watch, Pixel Buds A-Series, WearOS: We’ve been hearing rumors about a Pixel Watch for years. Could Google I/O finally be the event to showcase Google’s first branded wearable? A leak in April from Jon Prosser showed a circular watch likely powered by a new version of WearOS. The renders show a watch without a bezel around the screen, no physical buttons, interchangeable watch straps, and indications the watch will have a heart rate sensor.

Google may have already accidentally leaked the newest Pixel Buds in an email to Nest users in April, followed up with an accidental tweet from Google’s own Android account in May. 

It seems highly unlikely we’ll see the Pixel 5a announced at Google I/O, given that there’s currently a global chip shortage and the company also issued an official statement saying the phone would be released later in the year to quash rumors of its cancellation.

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Google Assistant and smart home products: Google I/O has had some show-stopping demos in the past, like when the Google Duplex AI had a natural phone conversation with a real person to make a hair appointment. While we don’t have any leaks pointing to exact capabilities coming to the Google Assistant, maybe we could hear news of the new Assistant coming to more Android devices, not just Pixel phones. 

There’s also speculation about an updated Chromecast, thanks to an FCC filing that appeared in March. 

For more tech news: Google wins cloud deal to provide Starlink internet services

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