Here’s Everything We Know About Google I/O 2021

Google I/O is home to many of the company’s biggest announcements, like the news of the Pixel 3A, the Nest Hub Max, and Google Duplex. Due to the pandemic, Google canceled the event in 2020, but now Google I/O is back — and this time, it’s free for everyone.

When is Google I/O 2021, and who can register?

Google I/O will be held from May 18 to 20 and is free for everyone who wants to attend it. You can register now through the Google I/O website. Although it’s traditionally a developer conference, the event typically features big news that interests consumers too.

So what can you expect? That question is a big one, and the answer is: A lot. It’s been two years since the last event, which (hopefully) means a lot of headlines for Google fans.

What will Google I/O 2021 look like?

This year’s Google I/O will be an entirely virtual conference. While the exact format of the event isn’t clear, Google has already announced a few big talking points.

The Consumer and Developer Keynotes will focus on both company- and product-related news and can be watched and rewatched on demand. If you miss a Keynote, don’t worry — you can catch it later. The Technical Sessions will focus on product announcements as well as how users can adopt any new features. There is no set day for these; they’ll be spread throughout the entire I/O event.

There will also be workshops and Ask Me Anything sessions, all of which will be interactive. You must reserve a timeslot to participate. The workshops will be led by a designated instructor, while the AMAs offer chances to ask questions of experts on various Google products. If you’re interested in connecting with other attendees, Google will host Meetups — as Google puts it, “casual, open, facilitated forums.” Again, you must be registered and make a reservation to attend.

One major draw are the Interactive Sandboxes, a part of I/O adventure that allows developers to try Google’s latest products and features through a virtual hands-on experience. If you prefer a more solo experience, Codelabs and Learning Pathways are self-guided experiences that will help you adopt new Google technology.

What to expect from Google I/O 2021

There are few rumors about what Google I/O 2021 might hold, but there’s a lot of speculation.

Android 12

While you likely shouldn’t expect Android 12 to drop anytime soon, there is a better-than-zero chance Google will make an announcement regarding the operating system. After all, the last release was Android 11 on September 8, 2020 — and before that, Android 10 released on September 3, 2019.

It’s a safe guess that Google will let some details drop about the upcoming version of the Android operating system and that you can expect it sometime in September of this year. After all, the developer preview is already available for testing and feedback.

Google Pixel Buds A

When any major conference approaches, the rumor mills begin churning. That absolutely holds true for Google I/O 2021, particularly with regard to a new version of the Google Pixel Buds. In a marketing email, Google showed off a pair of Pixel Buds in an olive color that isn’t currently available.

Google Pixel Buds A new olive

This sparked conversation and has led many people to believe that Google may have another pair of wireless earbuds in the lineup — possibly a lower-cost option to appeal to a different demographic than the current Pixel Buds.

Google Pixel 5a

Google has a history of releasing a more budget-friendly version of their current flagship phone, as seen in the Google Pixel 3a and the Pixel 4a. Right now, the Pixel 5 dominates Google’s lineup, but there’s no lower-priced alternative.

Google I/O would be the perfect time to announce the Pixel 5a as well as provide some information about its specs–perhaps an upgraded camera or even 5G compatibility. The latter option might drive the price of the phone up far more than the $350 price point of its predecessor, though.

Google App updates

App and software updates are the most likely announcements at Google I/O. Some announcements may include details on new privacy features (especially regarding Google-powered apps in the App Store and Apple’s new privacy regulations).

For example, there could be new updates coming to Google Translate, such as new language compatibility or real-time translation features. Updates to any of Google’s major apps, as well as more potential focus on Android Auto apps, are possible.

Google Assistant updates

Google Assistant may also see major updates at Google I/O. Users can expect news about the Assistant’s capabilities as well as perhaps more information on voice recognition, more device compatibility, and new ways to control your smart home.

google assistant mobile
Taylor Frint/Digital Trends

One potential announcement is the availability of Google Assistant in more countries across the globe. The smart assistant can already perform quite a few tasks, but Google has not yet wrested the lead from Amazon.

New Google Assistant hardware?

Google is slow to release hardware updates for their smart devices; after all, the Nest Mini took years to see an update of any kind. While it isn’t likely that a new smart device will be announced so soon following the launch of the Nest Audio, there is always a chance we may see something to diversify the lineup. With the Google Home Max no longer part of the lineup, you may never know what the company may announce.

This is pure speculation, but there is a gap in the market Google could meet with a Nest Subwoofer. The Amazon Echo Sub fills that demand on the Alexa side of the aisle, but Google doesn’t have a comparable device. If the company wants to focus on audio fidelity, that’s one way to improve.

Google I/O is just over a month away. More information will undoubtedly become available the closer we get to showtime, so stay tuned. If you’re interested in attending the event, go ahead and sign up while you still can. With any luck, Google I/O might be an in-person event once more next year — with broadcast events for anyone who can’t attend.

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