After canceling in 2020 and having an intimate show for 2021, Google’s annual developer event, Google I/O 2022, is back and should be bigger than ever. And while these events are highly software-focused, we’re expecting some big hardware announcements later this week.
This year’s event kicks off on Wednesday, May 11th, at 1 PM ET. Several reports and leaks suggest the company will unveil more about Android 13, the Google Pixel Watch, a budget-friendly Pixel 6a smartphone, and potentially much more. Here’s everything you need to know, how to watch Google I/O. and what to expect.
How to Watch Google I/O 2022
The main keynote where all the fun begins is on Wednesday, May 11th, at 1 PM ET. Immediately following the live stream, Google will host another keynote specifically for developers, then have a slew of events on Wednesday and Thursday.
As usual, Google’s dedicated I/O webpage will have live coverage of the entire event. Additionally, you’ll be able to tune into the main keynote on YouTube or from the link above.
Google’s First Wearable, the Pixel Watch
We’ve been talking about the Google Pixel Watch for what seems like 4-5 years, but it sounds like it’s finally going to happen in 2022. We heard our first concrete rumors of a Pixel watch last year, Google filed a few trademarks for its first wearable, and in April, we got our first prototype images of the smartwatch after it got left in a restaurant.
A few days later, images appeared on Reddit courtesy of AndroidPolice showing the full Pixel Watch on a wrist, and it looks great. Between all the leaks, we have a pretty good idea of what it’ll look like and everything it offers to take on the Apple Watch.
We need to find out all the details from Google and see how much involvement Samsung and Fitbit had in making the product. At the event last year, Google confirmed a partnership with Samsung, plus it acquired Fitbit, leading the way to the inevitable Pixel Watch release.
We’re not sure if it’ll get announced this week at Google I/O or if the company will show a teaser before its full release later in the year alongside the Pixel 7.
Google Pixel 6a
We said Google I/O is a software and developer-focused event, but that doesn’t mean we don’t usually get some new gadgets. Plus, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai recently said he’s excited about the company’s new hardware coming at Google I/O.
Combine that with all the recent Pixel 6a smartphone leaks and reports that production is underway, and it makes sense to expect Google’s next phone launch later this week.
Just as it has done for several years, Google is gearing up to release a more affordable version of the Pixel 6, dubbed the Pixel 6a. We believe it’ll be a slightly smaller variant with a few hardware reductions to make it ultra-affordable, not to mention come with fewer cameras on the back. To be more specific, a 6.2-inch 1080p screen, Google’s Tensor chip, and a highly capable camera that’s not as expensive as the 50MP shooter in the flagship Pixel 6.
The Pixel 3a came out in May of 2019, but Google’s stuck to an August release cycle ever since. However, with how successful the Pixel 6 has been thus far, we could see Google bump up the release of its more affordable smaller sibling.
Pixel Buds Pro
While this next item is less likely, there’s a chance Google could unveil (or at least tease) some new wireless earbuds at IO 2022. In the last week, we’ve seen a few reports that Google wants to take on the AirPods Pro with its own set of Pixel Buds Pro.
There’s a slight chance Google could unveil some new Pixel Buds A-series, which are affordable earbuds, but a Pro version sounds more likely. When we reviewed the Pixel Buds A-series back in 2021, we were highly impressed. So much so, that our previous Editor-in-Chief Cameron called them “Android’s AirPods.”
Unfortunately, we don’t know much about a new set of wireless earbuds. Still, considering the “Pro” in the name, we’d expect a high-end design, noise cancellation, and a higher price tag than previous earbuds. Google could have a few other features up its sleeve, including spatial audio and head-tracking support.
Google announced and released the first Android 13 developer preview over three months ago, followed by the official beta in April. However, at Google I/O 2022, the company should finally share more details on its next major upgrade to the Android operating system.
So far, it looks like Android 13 continued right where Android 12 left off. Google’s continued to improve and integrate the Material You design, themes, and customization options throughout the experience. Expect Google to talk more about performance, speed, customization, and, more importantly, privacy. We could even see some neat AI-based navigation controls.
Highlights in the first Android 13 beta include all the Material You changes mentioned above, support for spatial audio, upgraded Bluetooth LE support, a new Photo Picker tool, better copy/paste and edit controls, support for foldable devices, and much more.
Expect Android 13 to take up a good portion of the event, with more details about the beta that will last throughout the summer before a global release date sometime in August or September.
It’s worth noting that Android 13 isn’t the only software update planned this year. We’re also expecting Android 12L to arrive on tablets and foldables from Samsung, Lenovo, Microsoft, and maybe even Google themselves.
Android 12L is a new operating system and branch of Android explicitly built for foldable devices. Google already said it’ll officially launch later this year, so we expect several details regarding Android 12L this week.
Initially, rumors suggested Google could release a Pixel Fold in late 2021, which would run Android 12L, but that obviously never happened. We’ve heard a few small rumors about the device this year, and maybe we’ll get our first official teaser of the Google Pixel Fold at the event. It’s doubtful, but nothing would surprise us either.
With the lack of news or leaks about a potential Pixel Fold lately, things are pretty unclear aside from one report that said it’s still coming. However, expect Google to talk about Android 12L and its efforts on the next wave of mobile devices with folding, flexible, and rolling displays.
And Much More…
Then, considering this is an event about all-things Google and Alphabet, we could see a magnitude of announcements spanning Nest Home, Google Assistant, Maps, Photos, Chrome OS, YouTube, G-suite, Google/Android TV, Chromecast, and more.
We’ve seen a few leaks that Google has a new Nest Hub Tablet 2-in-1 in the works that’ll act as a regular tablet but also dock and operate as a traditional Nest device. Or maybe even cheaper Google Chromecast without 4K support, according to several reports. Could we see those this week?
Google typically takes the opportunity to hit a little of everything at these events. From smartphones, wearables, Google Assistant, consumer products, and enterprise stuff, to maybe some AR and VR products. The company always drops a few surprises, so we’ll keep an eye out and report back as we learn more. Follow the entire event on the Google I/O website.