Google I/O 2018 is right around the corner. You may not be all that excited for it if you only ever use Apple devices, but you should be. Google’s plans for the future of its platforms could well shape the future of all smartphones, wearables, and more.
They will also tell us how Google intends to keep up with and fight Apple’s latest devices, including iPhone X, which is quite literally changing the face of Android-powered devices.
Here are five big things we’re expecting from this year’s Google I/O keynote, which kicks off on Tuesday, May 8.
All things new in Android P
Just like iOS at WWDC, the original Android platform is a headliner at Google I/O every year. We’ve already seen the first developer preview of Android P, which rolled out back in March, and it’s likely the second will be ready to drop soon after Google’s big keynote.
What will it bring? We’re expecting big changes.
Recent leaks have hinted at a new gesture control system, similar to iPhone X’s, which will allow users to access their recent apps simply by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. This is likely to be accompanied by system-wide design improvements as Google debuts its even cleaner, even brighter “Material Design 2.”
It’s likely we can also look forward to improvements to the Google Assistant, which has been a major focus for Google in recent years. We might even be lucky enough to find out Android P’s official name.
A future for Wear OS?
Google recently rebranded its Android Wear platform after ignoring it completely at Google I/O last year, and it’s unlikely it will stop at giving it a new name. Google could lay out its latest plans for the future of WearOS, which we’re hoping will include big improvements.
Performance and efficiency could be better, and it would be great to see improved app support and a greater number of Wear OS apps. Better iPhone compatibility would also be nice for those of us who choose to couple Wear OS devices with iOS.
WearOS has become a little long in the tooth as Apple Watch continues to dominate the smartwatch market, yet the platform is still seeing plenty of support from third-party watch makers. It’s about time Google acknowledged that by giving its software some attention.
There is an event titled “What’s new in Wear OS by Google” in the I/O schedule, which suggests Google does have something to show off.
Smarter homes with Android Things
Android Things, the platform Google built for Internet of Things devices, was first announced as Project Brillo way back in 2015. It has seen eight developer previews since then, and now it seems a proper Android Things 1.0 release is imminent.
There are a whole bunch of sessions dedicated to Android Things in the Google I/O schedule, which is a sign that it’s going to be a big focus next week. We’ll have to wait and see if there’s any significant changes and improvements, but a release alone would be nice.
Google already offers Android Auto, the smartphone app that puts Android in your car, but the company has much bigger plans for true in-car operating system, based on Android, that vehicle manufacturers can integrate themselves.
We’ve got a brief glimpse at Android Automotive at I/O last year, but an even in this year’s schedule promises “an exciting preview of what’s ahead.” We’re expecting Google to tell us more about its plans and what they might mean for the future of cars.
Android TV dongle
The Android TV platform now comes pre-installed on TVs from the likes of Sony and LG, but you might not need a new set to get your hands on it soon. An official Android TV dongle, similar to a Chromecast, has recently been pictured in an FCC filing.
It’s likely Google will make that dongle official during I/O, based on an event that screams, “We’re making new Android TV hardware!” Unlike the Chromecast, which only allows users to stream content to a TV, the Android TV dongle should provide access to apps and games, much like an Amazon Fire TV.
A whole lot more
Google will almost certainly have lots more planned for I/O this year, including some surprises that its schedule doesn’t mention. Recent reports have revealed plans to overhaul podcasts, deliver a more affordable Pixel smartphone, and more.
To ensure you don’t miss any of it, tune into the Google I/O keynote at 1 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, May 8. We’ll be sure to bring you the big stories right here as the event unfolds.