Google I/O 2022 preview: What to expect from this year's event

Google I/O 2018 sign
(Image credit: Android Central)

Google I/O is just around the corner, and things are already shaping up for quite an eventful conference. While we can definitely expect a lot of developer talk at the event, there are tons of keynotes and consumer-focused features that will come out of I/O. If we're lucky, we might even get a hardware announcement or two.

Aside from the official schedule that Google has already posted, there have been a ton of leaks to help us paint a picture of what we can expect from the big event. Google I/O 2022 commences on May 11, which is less than two weeks away, giving us plenty of time to get excited for what's to come! Here's a list of what we expect to see at the event, along with some speculation on what Google could announce.

Android 13

Google's next major OS version is already here... sort of. The company recently released the first Android 13 beta, putting us closer to the final release. While there has been plenty to see throughout the beta and previous developer previews, we expect Google to have a lot more to say about the features we will see in the final version.

Android 13 isn't expected to be the same major overhaul as Android 12 was. However, it seems like Android 13 will build on Android 12L, refining much of the work to optimize Android for larger-screened devices like foldables and tablets.

Wear OS 3

Fossil Gen 6 Wear OS Logo

(Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

We heard a lot about Wear OS 3 at Google I/O last year, but aside from the Galaxy Watch 4 running Samsung's flavor, we have yet to see the stock experience in action. This is what we expect to appear on many of the best Wear OS watches when the update rolls out later this year. We've already seen glimpses of it through the Wear OS emulator, but it's time we get a full look at Wear OS 3 after it was announced a whole year ago.

With any luck, Google will also give us a firm date on when we can expect the update to roll out on current eligible smartwatches. But of course, we can't talk about Wear OS 3 without mentioning...

Pixel Watch?

Google Pixel Watch leaked with the bands on

(Image credit: u/tagtech414 on Reddit)

We're not sure about this one, but it seems likely. Leaks have been ramping up lately, especially after the Pixel Watch was "accidentally" left in a Chicago restaurant. The device looks exactly like what we've seen in previous renders, and it has us cautiously optimistic about Google's first smartwatch.

We hear that it could be announced or at least teased at Google I/O, with a full launch occurring alongside the Pixel 7 series. Here's hoping we hear something!

Smart Home

Smart Home Devices Google Home App Clutter Lifestyle

(Image credit: Chris Wedel / Android Central)

Google has been making many changes to its Google Home app, revamping UI elements to make it easier to use and much more helpful. We expect the company is up to something and that there could be much more on the horizon. There has been talk of a new Nest Hub display with a tablet-like design, and such a device will likely require an upgrade to Google's smart home platform.

There's also the matter of Matter and the company's efforts with the unified smart home standard. Yes, it keeps getting delayed, but Big Tech seems pretty committed. Therefore, we imagine there might be more to say about it at I/O.

Pixel 6a

Google Pixel 6a Renders

(Image credit: @OnLeaks / 91mobiles)

Unlike last year's late launch of the Pixel 5a, Google is expected to introduce the Pixel 6a at I/O, at least according to one rumor. It's likely that it will sport the same design as its higher-end siblings, which isn't a bad thing. That said, despite the likelihood that it will be powered by the same Tensor chipset, the Pixel 6a will likely have a few downgrades as well.

A recent leak suggests that the 6a won't support the same camera features as the Pixel 6 flagships. That could be due to lesser camera hardware, as it will likely have the same primary camera found in past Pixels. Still, this could end up being one of the best budget Android phones of the year, and Google should definitely aim to launch it sooner rather than later.

Google Pay

Google Pay Power Button Shortcut

(Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

We expect Google to talk in length about its apps and software, but Google Pay has been in the spotlight recently, and we can't help but feel like Google has something planned for I/O. Recent reports indicate that the company is gearing up to rebrand its digital wallet, bringing us back to Google "Wallet" while retaining the Google Pay name for transactions.

In some ways, it seems like a logical move, particularly given the company's desire to turn Google Pay into a "comprehensive digital wallet." It seems likely we'll hear more about Google's ambitions at I/O.

What not to expect

Google Pixel 7 Pro

(Image credit: @OnLeaks / Twitter)

While we expect some hardware announcements at I/O, we wouldn't hold our breath for too much of that. Given that we're waiting for the Pixel 6a to launch, Google is unlikely to even mention the Pixel 7 at I/O. And while rumors indicate that the Pixel 7 isn't the only flagship we can expect this year, the Pixel Notepad foldable is rumored to launch sometime in October.

As mentioned before, it seems Google might tease the Pixel Watch at I/O, but a full unveiling probably won't occur until later this year, similar to how Google pre-announced the Pixel 6 series last year.

Another thing we don't expect to see is Project Iris. That's the name of Google's rumored AR headset. We've seen the company make headway in AR, particularly with Google Lens. However, the company likely wants to build its own hardware to counter Meta's ambitions. That said, we don't expect this to arrive until 2024, so we're unlikely to hear about it at I/O this year. That is if Google stays committed to the project.

Derrek Lee
News Editor

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.