It’s Google IO time again, a great time of year for Google enthusiasts. It’s where we get to hear all the new and exciting developments Google have for us in the coming months (and years). While not everything always makes it to market the Google IO announcements and developments give us a good indication of Google’s plans for not just Android but also Chrome, AI, IoT and much more.
This year at Google IO we are expecting to see a lot of new software developments and with Google beginning their strong push into machine learning and AI at last year’s IO we expect to see this be a large focus once again. Last year Dan and I attended IO thanks to Google (and Dan’s overtime) and this year once again we have Dan attending after Google extended an invitation once again. While Dan is in the air on his way to Google headquarters let’s have a look at what we expect him to see at Google IO this year.
Android P Developer Preview
Last year we took our Pixels and Nexus phones to IO with the expectation that a Android O Developer Preview would land, and it did. This year we expect to see the next installment in the Android P Dev Preview program made available to Google Pixel and Pixel 2 phones. We saw Dev Preview 1 arrive in early March so we expect the next version to baked and ready to go, most likely just after the keynote on Wednesday morning (Australian time). We expect Google to expand on their design UI changes from the first Dev Preview and will teach developers about it in the Material Design 2 sessions at IO this year.
2018 is the year where the notch has taken off in Android-land with nearly every flagship arriving with one. Surely we will see in the Dev Preview some form of official documentation for how Google not only incorporates them into the System UI but also how they think developers should build their apps around these notches. There is also some speculation that we will see Google officially introduce gesture control into the UI, similar to the iPhone X and OnePlus and OPPO have done. With manufacturers heading down the full face display territory it seems the next logical step.
Last year Dan and I were at a round-table meeting/seminar where Google introduced the new Android TV UI to us and this year we expect them to move on this space once again. We saw a new Android TV dongle mosey on through the FCC nearly four weeks ago. Rather than being just another Chromecast dongle it would be a massive step if Google were to introduce a fully functional Android TV dongle. There are very small Android TV boxes so why couldn’t they do the same with a dongle? After all Google no longer have a reference piece of hardware for their Android TV platform so it makes sens that they would want to produce one for developers on their Android TV platform. We suspected this device may well be a developers Android TV device and it would not surprise us in the least if it turned out that way.
The last few years IoT has taken off and Google’s Android form factor aimed at this is called Android Things. We expect to see Google move this platform on even more with there being quite a few sessions (eight) on the program dedicated to it. Hopefully Google IO will see Android Things move out of Dev Preview and into a fully stable release. A stable 1.0 release must be just around the corner with the Smart Displays from Lenovo, Sony and JBL, powered by Android Things, expected to arrive soon.
Dan is hoping to see one (or more) of these Google Assistant Smart Displays at IO this year and has apparently made room within his suitcase to bring one back (hopefully two — I have room in my house for one). We have seen them announced earlier this year at CES but as of this stage have not seen any hit the market. Google IO would make a great time for Google to get them into developer’s hands so that when they are released to the public there is some added functionality ready for consumers.
Android in the car
Last year at IO I was excited to see Android Auto embedded into cars and actually be called Android Automotive. Although we have not seen it come to fruition in the past twelve months we expect to see the next incarnation of this full Android integration into the car’s software. Last year we were told that these cars running Android would not be released until hopefully late this year. Maybe we will get a firm date for these releases at this year. At the same time we also hope to see how Google and the car manufacturers get around the myriad of issues we saw with setting up Android within the car and having it work seamlessly without ever plugging your phone in.
We have seen Google finally bring wireless Android Auto to market this year (although we may have to wait a bit longer here in Australia) so we wait to see what is next for Android Auto. Are we at a level where Google will evolve it into something else, the next level?
YouTube, Google Play Music, YouTube Red, YouTube Music. Will they all become one at Google IO this year? We have seen movement in this space in recent times so we may see Google make this change official in some way. Google are well known for having multiple apps that do very similar things. Maybe this year we will see Google focus their strategy in at least one area or is that too much to ask?
AI and machine learning were a big focus of Google IO last year and with Google becoming commonplace in so many more households this year we expect it to once again be at the forefront in 2018. How Google are planning to extend their machine learning capabilities will no doubt be presented at one of the many sessions at Google IO. It would not surprise me if they made another large jump in computational capabilities through not just hardware but also software updates.
I look forward to seeing how they can bring this not just to the tech world but also to other areas such as medical and educational.
With Dan with his boots on the ground at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View asking all the hard questions of the Googlers he comes across with some all night support from those left here in Australia expect to see wall to wall coverage of Google’s 2018 developer conference.
Head on over to the Google IO web page and check out what sessions will be on this week at IO 2018. Let us know in the comments what you want us to find out and what you want us to focus on in the coming week.