Google I/O might technically be Google’s annual developer’s conference — an event developers can attend to learn how to best use what’s new in Google’s latest products and updates — but we’ve also come to know it as the event where big things get announced. Every year, we usually have some idea of what Google might announce and can normally predict at least a good deal of what is to come.
Derrek’s what to expect from Google I/O 2022 is filled with careful considerations and calculations based on information we know and what’s been rumored for months. But here, I throw all caution into the wind because, heck, there are some things I just want to see and don’t care how realistic my Google I/O 2022 wishlist is. Will any of these be fulfilled? Could be! We’ll just have to find out on May 11.
At this point, the Pixel Watch seems to be all but confirmed. We leaked the first images of a real-life Pixel Watch two weeks ago, thanks to a reader who quite literally found it sitting in a restaurant. There’s no telling if this is the final design of the watch, but it certainly matches up with the leaked renders and imagery we’ve seen of the watch for what feels like years now. If what we've seen is final, I'm calling it now: the Pixel Watch will be the new best Android smartwatch.
It also lines up nicely with the one-year anniversary of the announcement of Wear OS 3, the smartwatch OS co-developed by Samsung and Google to unify Android’s rather messy watch ecosystem. Google has a long history of having its products leaked, only to let those leaks fuel an "early" product announcement. This happened with the Pixel 4, Pixel 4a 5G, Pixel 5, and even the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. Conspiracy theories aside, I’d love to see Google follow those same steps with the Pixel Watch.
Wear OS 3 for all
When Google caught us off guard with a surprise Wear OS 3 announcement at last year’s Google I/O, hardly anyone could have guessed that only one family of watches would have the update a full year later: the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic.
While we can surmise the politics behind holding back Wear OS 3, the fact is that Google’s long-held partners — like Fossil and Mobvoi — deserve to get this update on their watches ASAP.
Here’s where I get into far-flung — but not unreasonable — wish territory. Like the Pixel Watch, the Pixel Fold is a product that’s been rumored and allegedly delayed for what feels like years. Google has made massive strides with the Pixel line since the announcement of the Pixel 6, and the Pixel Fold is easily the most exciting Pixel ever conceived.
As we get more and more rumors and leaks of the phone, it’s becoming clear that the Pixel Fold looks a lot more like an OPPO Find N notebook-style phone than the Galaxy Z Fold 3. I certainly wouldn’t expect Google to unveil the phone and give a proper release date and price for it, but I would love to just see that Google is officially working on foldable phone hardware.
Plus, with Android 12L's focus on tablets and foldables — and the fact that Google already released the code to the public back in March’s update — this would be the perfect time to show off all those lovely new foldable features baked into Android proper. Why not use this time to show off the fruits of your labor, Google?
Google’s next-gen AR/VR project
The last piece of the Google hardware puzzle is its rumored Project Iris AR/VR headset. Since this is only a recent revelation after years of Google seemingly dumping everything it ever worked on in the VR space, I certainly don’t think we’ll see much in the way of hardware reveals. Project Iris is expected sometime in 2024, but the Google I/O 2022 schedule shows that Google is still very much interested in talking about its AR projects and development.
In fact, the company just acquired Raxium, a company known for making AR/VR-centric microLED displays, showing that Google is once again interested in trying its hand at proper hardware. The incredible success of the Oculus Quest 2 has proven that affordable, standalone console-like headsets aren’t just viable; they’re the future.
I/O's going to be a great show
My hopes and expectations might be a tad high for the show, but it feels like this year could really be a blowout one for Google. It's finally got its Pixel hardware division mostly under a single roof, including a new acquisition that'll give Google the ability to make its own displays sometime in the future. We know the Pixel Watch exists because we've seen it, and we know Google is working on a foldable and some new AR/VR tech that's yet to be revealed.
Whatever comes, it's going to be a great show and we'll be there (virtually) for coverage of the whole thing. Stay peeled to Android Central, starting May 11.
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