If Sundar Pichai isn’t a fan of nerdy numerology then he should be, because 2018 is going to be all about the 10s for Google. Their mobile OS Android turns 10 in September, the Google Play store turns 10 the month after (remember the Android Market?) but even more importantly and before the candles can be blown out on those cakes, I/O is 10 too.
So next Tuesday, May 8th 2018 should be an extra special day for the Google CEO as he once again takes to the stage at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California, for the keynote address at Google’s biggest event of the year, I/O. Joining him there (not on the stage obviously!) will be three of our lucky mobile developers as they, and thousands of other Android enthusiasts, wait to hear what Google has in store for us. We’ll know for sure next week but ahead of that we’ve pulled together our top five predictions of what we think will be unveiled on Tuesday.
Our predictions include the second preview of Android P (and the features we expect to see in it), the next generation of Android Wear (Wear OS), the much rumoured Android TV dongle, a wireless version of Android Auto and an official launch of Android Things 1.0.
- Android P
Every year Google I/O’s headline act is a new Android developer preview, so our first prediction is easy. And while it’s no surprise that we’ll likely get a second preview of Android P (the first was back in March), the question remains around what it will include. We might also be lucky enough to find out the name (creative juices have been flowing in our office with guesses from Popsicle and Pecan Pie to Pancake and Petit Four)!
Here are some of the features we expect to see in Android P;
- Gesture-based navigation
Google have hinted at a new ‘iPhone X-style’ gesture-based navigation. The square recent button and round home button will both be abandoned in place of a new pill-like icon which users will swipe up to access the multitasking screen and swipe left and right to switch between apps. It’s unsure whether this new control system will affect all Android P devices or be a Pixel-specific change introduced to Pixel smartphones.
- Material Design 2
The gesture navigation is rumoured to be accompanied by a ‘Material Design Refresh’ which will incorporate system-wide design improvements and a focus on white spaces, rounded edges and bright colours. The first Android P preview showed many redesigned system UI components such as dialog boxes, the volume interface and a new notification panel. In the past few months we’ve also seen numerous UI changes in many of Google’s products such as Gmail.com, Google Play and the Android Developers site. It’s expected that the next version of Material Design will follow in this new design style.
A new ‘Slices’ API was introduced in the first Android P preview and is rumoured to be demoed at I/O. While it’s still unclear exactly what this is, Android P developer documents define a ‘Slice’ as "a piece of app content and actions that can be surfaced outside of the app". The most likely use case for ‘Slices’ is to allow apps to display their own content inside the Google Assistant search results. It’s therefore possible that the “Integrate your Android apps with the Google Assistant” session may involve ‘Slices’.
- Wear OS
With an event titled “What’s new in Wear OS by Google” on the schedule, it’s no surprise that Sundar may address the recently rebranded Android Wear platform on Tuesday. Aside from the new name we’re also hoping for some big improvements to bring Google on par with Apple who continue to dominate the smartwatch market. In particular we’d like to see better iPhone compatibility, more Wear OS apps and enhanced performance and efficiency from ‘Wear OS 3.0’ (?). In March Google released a Wear OS developer preview that included various battery-saving updates and a new dark theme.
- Android TV Dongle
Our next prediction is based on a picture that was leaked a few months ago from a FCC filing. The photo is of an official Android TV dongle and remote, similar to Chromecast. The dongle is expected to be announced at I/O and similar to Amazon Fire TV, will allow access to apps and games. Perhaps the ‘What’s new with Android TV’ session will confirm this prediction.
- Android Auto
In addition to Android Auto, the smartphone app that enables Android to work in your car, Google is also working on “Android Automotive”, a new operating system for car manufacturers to integrate into their vehicles, allowing Android Auto to go wireless. A design overhaul is also expected for Android Auto as the official I/O app mentions a “new automotive interface both for phones and in-car displays that will make it easier and faster than ever before to surface content to users." The event app also reveals that Android Auto is set to get a “brand new media experience”.
- Android Things
Our final prediction is an official launch of Android Things 1.0 and with 8 sessions dedicated to Android Things we certainly believe this is plausible. The platform was first announced in 2015 and 8 developer previews later, we still have not had a release of Google’s platform for Internet of Things. Google have stated that Preview 8 "represents the final version of the API surface for the upcoming, stable 1.0 release" and also mentioned that the upcoming Google Assistant Smart Displays will be one of the first devices to ship with Android Things as the OS.
As well as our above predictions, there is also talk of updates to Google Photos, YouTube Music and Google Lens as well as a bunch of other surprises which we can’t wait to find out about. We’ll be tweeting live from the keynote on Tuesday (@tvptdigital) so be sure to stay tuned and see which of our predictions come true!
We'll also be putting together a post-conference report outlining what impact the I/O announcements will have on travel brands, so be sure to check back."
Oh, we almost forgot, Happy Birthday I/O!