Google’s I/O Developer Conference is finally back as a (limited) personal keyword for 2022, but that’s not the biggest story likely to emerge from the event. This year, in addition to the usual Android update, it will likely include some of the company’s most important introductions to hardware in recent memory — including the first Pixel smartwatch. Here’s what to expect when Sundar Pichai and his crew take the stage.
We will add that it will be easy to adjust. Google will stream the presentation live via its YouTube channel on May 11 at 1 p.m. ET, including a transcript with American Sign Language subtitles. You can expect coverage and comments from Engadget during and after the keynote.
Pixel watch and Wear OS 3
The real star of I/O may already have been revealed despite Google’s attempts to keep it a secret. An official Google smartwatch has been rumored for years, but now it looks like the company is about to introduce one in the form of the Pixel Watch. A prototype of the device was apparently found in a restaurant by an Android Central source, but Google has also applied for the Pixel Watch brand in recent weeks. It may just be a matter of when the watch arrives, not the ‘if’.
The prototype might talk a lot about Google’s plans. According to previous rumors, the Pixel Watch appears to have an elegant round case, a rotating crown and almost no bezels. Think of it as Android’s answer to the Apple Watch’s sleek design, just with a circular display. The smartwatch, like its competition, will use proprietary but easily interchangeable bands to help you customize the look. The images also suggest that there will be at least some form of heart rate monitoring, while an earlier code leaked from 9to5Google Hint an Exynos processor inside.
However, the real key element may be the software. The Pixel Watch is believed to be a display for Wear OS 3, a flagship smartwatch interface developed with the help of Samsung. It’s expected to include easier navigation, support for tiles (read: widgets) for third-party apps, performance improvements and more customization for watchmakers. Fitbit activity tracking will be key to the experience, and an icon discovered in the new OS emulator hinted that the fitness app might be integrated into some watch faces. While Wear OS has long included some workout-friendly functionality, the Pixel smartwatch may not need any aftermarket apps to offer really powerful tracking.
There’s no guarantee that Google will launch the Pixel Watch for the first time at I/O, and details like pricing remain a mystery. However, reporter John Prosser, who generally has a track record of leaks, has claimed that the watch may arrive On May 26just two weeks after I/O. If that’s the case, we’d expect to roll out Wear OS 3 to compatible third-party watches (like recent examples from Fossil, Mobvoi, and Samsung) in the coming weeks.
Pixel 6 A
Google hasn’t introduced a new mid-range phone since the 2020 Pixel 4a 5G (the Pixel 5a was nearly identical), so we’re late getting new hardware. Fortunately, this may only be in the pipeline. Puffs have been going for months from the Pixel 6a that would bring the Pixel 6’s aesthetic and key features to a more expensive phone.
Where previous budget pixels typically retained the camera technology of high-end models while using slower processors, Google may reverse its strategy by using the 6a. The 6.2-inch phone is said to use the same fast Tensor chip as the Pixel 6, but relies on the 5a’s 12-megapixel main rear camera instead of the more advanced 50-megapixel unit on the Pixel 6.
There will also still be an OLED display with a (improved) fingerprint reader under the screen, and the 5G millimeter wave fast could be available with at least one variant. However, you may have to say goodbye to the headphone jack in low-cost Google phones.
As with the Pixel Watch, there are hints Google may reveal the Pixel 6a at I/O and release it shortly thereafter. FCC filings for the 6a surfaced last month, indicating that the company may ship the phone sometime in May. The biggest unknown at this point is the price: Google sold the 5a for $449, but it’s not clear if the follow-up will be affordable.
It’s no secret that Google will reveal more about Android 13 at I/O 2022. The company has been testing developer previews for the new operating system since February, and has historically been using I/O to share many future user-facing Android versions for the first time, such as the operating system’s Material You interface. Android 12. It’s possible that not all of the minor developer-focused mods you’ve seen so far are all you’ll get when the OS is finally ready (probably late summer).
There wasn’t much clue as to what these bigger changes would entail, but so far Google has focused on minor interface revisions and technology upgrades under the hood. Android 13 beta already includes expanded textures, an improved media playback box, a faster QR code reader and (at least for some users) smart home control while the device is locked.
Behind the scenes, you will also see more amenities as well as greater respect for your privacy and your free time. Android 13 will introduce Bluetooth LE audio support, and Fast Pair should be built in to help you quickly set up earphones and other accessories. Some form of spatial sound may also be available. In the meantime, apps won’t have much freedom. Software designed for the new platform will have to request permission to access media and notifications. Even Google’s photo picker is now more restrictive. You should see fewer apps exceeding their limits, not to mention annoying you with unwanted promotions and alerts.
It wouldn’t be surprising at all if there were more substantial changes in the store. However, from all the evidence so far, Android 13 is more of an iteration of Android 12 than a radical rethink. And that’s fine – Google now has more opportunity to fine-tune its code and address complaints about last year’s fixes.
Wildcards: Pixel Buds Pro, Nest Hub tablet and folding
While there are only a handful of hardware unveilings expected at I/O this year, we’re not ruling out a few teasers outside the left field. Recently, John Prosser brought up the possibility Pixel Buds Pro Earbuds that come in a range of colors. While he didn’t provide details or photos, the “Pro” badge may indicate active noise cancellation and other features that haven’t found their way into the current Pixel Buds. While it might not show up in I/O (if at all), it would make sense considering Android 13’s support for spatial audio and Bluetooth LE music.
Nor would we completely rule out the much-rumored pixel folding possibility. Google designed Android 12L with foldable devices and tablets in mind, and the leaked “Pipit” from the company can explain what this software can do. Don’t count on her reaching this month’s event. although 9to5Google Find out the camera icon that indicates the 2022 release, and there were no real signs of an I/O appearance. If the Pipit is still on the right track, it might not arrive until late in the year.
We won’t be holding out hope for a rumored detachable Nest Hub where the screen can be removed and used as a tablet. The first discussions of this Nest convertible model only surfaced in March, and Google has frequently kept its Nest announcements for the fall.
Instead, the most likely surprises are the ones you often see at I/O. You might see an update to Google’s Android TV (as well as the Google TV front end), and it’s easy to see upcoming upgrades to services like Maps and Photos. AI-based products that use duplexes and similar technologies can be shown at the conference. Then there are the bolder experiments — few would have expected a Project Starline AR video chat booth, even in the midst of a pandemic.