Today will kick off its annual I/O conference the year of Android will finally begin in earnest. The company has been busy, but until Sundar chai takes the stage at the Shoreline Amphitheater, we won’t know for sure what has in store for the rest of 2017.
st year we met a new Assistant, Daydream, Home, lo, Duo, , of course, Android N, we can’t wait to see what rolls out this year. usually keeps a pretty tight lid on its biggest announcements, but it seems like it’s doubled-down on security leaks this year. The rumor mill has been oddly quiet with the show mere days away from starting, we’re on pins needles waiting to see what has to show us. So here’s what we think hope we’re going to see:
at we know so far: Android I/O go together like bacon eggs, so we know Android O will take up a large chunk of the keynote. ’ve already gotten an early look at where is taking its OS thanks to a sneak peek at the developers preview, while it’s mostly behind-the-scenes stuff, there are already some great new features. Among our favorites, will be limiting background processes to eke out more battery life between charges, a new A will let us access password manager right inside Chrome, picture-in-picture will let us work play simultaneously on our phones. And the recently unveiled oject Treble aims to let manufacturers deliver their updates way faster.
But there’s sure to be more to the story. ’ve already discovered some cool things hidden in the System UI settings like extra buttons for the navigation bar customizable lock-screen shortcuts, but surely has much more to show us on the main stage. ’re all but certain to get an over-the-air public beta alongside the second developers preview, we’re very interested to see what front-facing features has hiding up its sleeve.
The first developer preview is for coders who need to do testing, isn’t part of the beta program. expect I/O to be the release of the first actual beta, which means users with Nexus or xel phones can try it out through the beta program instead of flashing it manually.
at we want to see: First, we really want a proper backup system that just works. ile Android has gotten better over the years with backing up restoring, it’s still pretty wonky. l we really want is a reliable way to transfer our apps, messages, photos/videos, data, home screen layout onto a new phone when we switch. And we wouldn’t mind a dark mode either.
at we know so far: is serious about AI in the home. th pressure from Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Home has a definite battle on its hs, it’s going to take more than a few new skills to hold off its competitors.
But isn’t taking the fight lying down. It’s already added voice recognition for multiple users, there are signs that it wants to take Home even further. A rumors a few weeks back suggested that was looking to combine Home with its -Fi mesh router to create a perfect all-over, always-on companion. And we have to assume that is also prepping some long-overdue comms, like setting sleep timers, creating reminders, reading recent texts or emails.
at we want to see: Amazon has exped its line of Echo products with the camera-powered ok the D-equipped Echo Show, we’d love to see do the same with Android notifications Duo for voice calls. It’s already opened up Assistant to an array of third-party products with an SDK, we’ll be watching to see if exps its own family of devices.
at we know so far: Since we met Assistant at last year’s I/O it has grown up quite a bit. Since it got its start on Home lo, it’s exped to most Android phones, Android ar watches, Android Auto, Android TV. To sum up, it’s everywhere.
But Assistant is far from perfect. Depending on where it is, the experience varies greatly between apps devices, the new SDK is only be going to confuse things even further. But a couple of courses—most notably, “Building apps for the Assistant”—leads us to believe that has big plans for Assistant at I/O.
at we want to see: Aside from more smarts actions, what we want most of all from Assistant is priority recognition so more than one device doesn’t respond at the same time. If we’re in our living room, Home should answer all of our queries, if our phone is in our pocket, our watch should take over. It might seem like a small problem, but if it’s as easy as says to build its AI into third-part devices, there are going to be a flood of Assistant-powered devices later this year. And it would be nice if every one of them didn’t answer to every “Hey ” we uttered.
at we know so far: I/O has been the launchpad for ‘s VR efforts, with both Cardboard Daydream getting their start on the big stage. And I/O 2017 could bring another big step in its development.
st last week, announced that it had acquired Owlchemy bs, the intrepid studio behind such hit VR titles as b Simulator Morty: Virtual -ality. ile that doesn’t necessarily mean is working on a stalone virtual reality system, it does raise some interesting possibilities. Earlier this year, released its stunning Earth VR app for Oculus Rift, so it’s clear that it’s ambitions go beyond that of the Daydream View. But whatever the case, Daydream is likely to receive a nice chunk of keynote time, as looks to get more developers on board.
at we want to see: Something a little more powerful than the Daydream View, with full motion h-tracking console-style graphics.
at we know so far: Android ar 2.0 was a major announcement at last year’s I/O, but the path has been fraught with pitfalls missteps. First it was delayed for months then, when it finally led earlier this year, there were hardly any watches ready for the new update. And the ones that did release left very little to be desired.
So, it’s likely we won’t be hearing about Android ar 3.0 at this year’s event. However, even though it won’t take up nearly as much time as it did at last year’s event, will probably still talk about the platform, it’s possible we get a glimpse at what it’s planning.
at we want to see: A xel watch. may have co-designed the Sport Style watches with , but they have none of the good looks or simplicity of the xel. Android ar is a platform in need of a flag bearer, a xel watch would more than fit the bill.
at we know so far: It’s hard to keep much of anything secret when it comes to flagship smartphones, so the lack of any substantial rumors about the xel 2 leads us to believe that it’s still a long ways off. st year’s model was released at its own event in October, it’s likely that does the same thing this year.
However, there have been rumors of a low-cost xel, so it’s possible that releases a mid-cycle model to refresh the line, kind of like what Apple did with the ione SE. And there’s always the possibility of new colors, especially since the Really Blue model is nowhere to be found.
at we want to see: An announcement that has struck a deal with the other three carriers to begin selling the xel in stores. Or possibly a price cut.
at we know so far: Android One is ’s program for bringing Android smartphones to developing nations, but a rumor earlier this year suggested that a U.S. release was being considered. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that such a release could come at I/O, where could tout the benefits of such a program to developers.
An ultra-cheap Android phone that gets regular updates could seriously upend the budget market, much more than the xel did with the high end. The biggest problem with the rash of low-cost Android phones is that they’re generally crippled, bogged down with bloatware questionable services. A U.S. Android One program would go a long way toward putting an end to those issues.
at we want to see: Something like the Moto G5 us that promises the same 18 months of regular updates three years of security updates as the xel.
at we know so far: Android Auto didn’t get much stage time at last year’s conference, it’s taken kind of back seat to ’s other platforms. It did receive a pretty big update in November with a stalone app that let you run it in your car without a compatible in-dash system, but otherwise Android Audio has received only minor updates apps.
But is clearly spending a lot of time on its auto initiative, we seem to be closer than ever to a major announcement. Maybe it’s a car, maybe it’s a full Android-powered dashboard like demoed inside a Maserati at last year’s show. But whatever it is, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Android Auto get some attention this year.
at we want to see: The same thing everyone wants to see: a self-driving car.
at we know so far: desperately needs a simple, streamlined messaging experience across all of Android. st year brought us lo, which was supposed to be Android’s answer to Apple Messages, a device-agnostic instant chat client with stickers backups.
And while it has all of those elements, lo never really caught on, mainly due to its lack of SMS support single-device limitations. But instead of fixing lo, further complicated matters by announcing it was bundling the SMS-focused Android Messages with all new smartphones by most major manufacturers (notably absent: Samsung). However, nary an I/O has gone by without some kind of a messaging announcement, so is likely to take at length about all of this, perhaps RCS Voice as well. And we have seen a teaser of an lo desktop app, so that could make an appearance. Basically, it’s anyone’s guess as to what’s next. At this point, we wouldn’t be surprised to see announce another messaging product.
at we want to see: Rather than another new messaging client, we’d like some clarity on ’s strategy with messaging. l we really want is a single service that syncs with all our devices works on all phones, so we don’t have to start over whenever we get a new phone.
at we know so far: thought Android tablets were dead after 2016 came went with nothing in the way of splashy new releases, but they’re showing some minor signs of life in 2017.
Samsung updated its Galaxy Tab S for the first time in 18 months. And then, the Nougat 7.1.2 update brought some significant interface changes to the xel C. And now, a rumor suggests that Motorola is working on a new tablet with a “productivity mode” that tweaks the interface even further makes it more like Chromebook. And there are signs that is building an entirely new OS with as part of its Fuchsia project. Could it be that is teaming with Motorola on a new tablet experience? Or is Fuchsia a sign that tablets Chromebook are merging? Hopefully we’ll find out at I/O.
at we want to see: Tablets may be on the decline everywhere, but it’s only because people are frustrated by what they do don’t do. It’s not the form, it’s the function, we’d love to see address this in Android O, with a tablet-focused interface that finally takes full advantage of the large-screen benefits brings them to the next level.