After last year's graduation to double figures I/O enters the awkward ‘tween’ years as Google’s annual developer conference turns 11 next month.
Once again Sundar Pichai will be gathering his Android army at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in sunny Mountain View, California for the purest Google and stock Android you’ll find outside of a Pixel phone. And even though it’s three days of Android heaven for the hundreds of developers live at the event it’s really the first 2 hours on day one, Tues May 7th, that will have every Google fanboy/girl (and probably every Apple exec) glued to the keynote to find out where the big G is going next.
So far they are not giving much away although the theme of ‘Beyond Mobile’ has got us all very excited in the office here at Travelport Digital as we’ve been preaching that in travel for about 5 years.
Image Source: Google
You don’t need to be Mystic Meg to guess the first one. Every I/O shows off the newest version of the Android operating system and this year will no different. Unlike previous years though, Q beta 2 is already out as a developer preview on Pixel phones for the very early adopters out there. Hopefully Sundar will give the rest of us mere mortals further info on Q functionality like Bubbles, Desktop Mode and Deep Press during the keynote.
The one thing we don’t know for sure yet is what dessert are Google licking their lips re the name of this latest OS version. Last year it was Pie (P), 2017 was Oreo (O) Q however, that’s a lot tougher. Remember when Google asked for our help with naming an easy one, N (Nougat)? Maybe Google go totally rogue this year because Q is the landmark 10th version of Android and switch it right up by going savory for the first time ever, Quiche, Quesadilla...?
Android Wear, Wear OS by Google and Wear OS… it’s safe to say that Google’s attempts to go toe to toe (or should that be wrist to wrist?) with watchOS and the Apple Watch have not gone as planned over the past 5 years. In fact, other than American Airlines - are there any travel apps left on this platform?
Image source: Google Play Store
However, with $40 million less in their pockets (after buying some much-hyped smartwatch tech IP off Fossil earlier this year) and two new Google devices spotted in the development wild ‘Salmon’ and ‘Medaka’ could Google surprise us all at I/O with a smartwatch OS and device that we actually want to use this time? With ‘Hearables’ and ‘Wearables’ at the top of ever tech giants roadmap this one must be a certainty for May 7th.
A Chrome Assistant?
With themes like Beyond Mobile and Platforms being core to this year's I/O, more ‘Assistant’ must be another shoe-in for next month. In fact, it’s the worst kept rumour in mobile that Assistant is making its way to Chrome in time for May 7th .
Image source: 9to5google.com
Code spotted in a developer Chromium release even highlighted a possible demo on stage:
“In the mock up example that we may see on the Google I/O stage, the Google Assistant knows that you have an upcoming trip to Chicago. Based on what it knows about your trip, Chrome will display a card from the Assistant. This card will offer to book a rental car for your trip with National Car Rental.
Details of exactly where and when this card will be shown are still somewhat unclear, but one early proposal indicates that certain websites will trigger the Assistant and download the necessary script(s) to autofill for that website. For example, navigating to NationalCar.com could trigger the Assistant to suggest a booking based on your travel information”
We can’t wait to get our developer hands on ‘Autofill Assistant’, watch this space!
As we talked about here, “foldables will become the number one focus for any mobile company looking to not become the next RIM/BlackBerry of 2020 and beyond”, and as Google are the dons of disruption it’s highly likely that this new form factor will make an appearance during Sundar’s keynote. Don’t expect this recently filed Google patent on stage though. Not yet!
But with a developer session on day one called ‘Build apps for foldable, multi display and large screen devices’ it’s clear that Android is shifting itself into position ready for this market. Maybe the AR Google Maps functionality teased at last year's I/O will make an appearance on a foldable?
And we live in hope for number 5... Fuchsia
Yeah yeah I know, it’s rumoured every I/O but will this be the year where we (finally) see the shrouded in secrecy multi device OS that it’s claimed will push Android and even Chrome out of the way and usher us all into a brave new single operating system world made for every Google device... mobile, desktop, tablet and watch? Hmmm, I wouldn't bet your house on this one happening this year!
Image source: dignited.com
And that’s not all, if that Top 5 isn’t making you take a big marker pen to your calendars to count down the days to I/O 19 then there are also whispers of a Nest Hub Max, more Stadia gaming, Coral and even foldables from Google themselves.
We’ll be tweeting live from the keynote on Tuesday 7th May (@tvptdigital) so be sure to stay tuned and see which of our predictions come true!