Google announced its annual developer conference this week in the most annoying way possible — with a Glass Onion-style puzzle invite encouraging developers to bring their friends along for the “fun.” Google eventually revealed that Google I/O 2023 would be a hybrid event taking place May 10 at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, CA.
Most notably, it seems the conference is only one day long this year, rather than the usual 2-3 additional days of breakout sessions after the initial keynote. Regardless, we’ll be there to ring in the new announcements, and we’re already looking at what might be on the roster for Google’s annual “state of the union” keynote.
The company typically uses Google I/O to herald its AI and machine learning efforts. There will be an abundance of that this year, with so many new players dabbling in artificial intelligence. But there will likely also be some news about the Google products we rely on daily.
Of course, Google’s biggest operating system is Android (sorry, ChromeOS), so expect most of the show to be about what’s new in Android 14 for developers and users alike. Android enthusiasts have already unearthed some neat wallpaper customisation features using emojis, and this week’s second developer preview shows there’s an emphasis on privacy and security. The Photo Picker API, for instance, will be a forced part of the operating system regardless if the app you’ve installed has it integrated or not.
More AI in your Android
With the AI wars going full force, it’s easy to imagine that Google’s keynote is being rewritten this second to place a harder emphasis on the company’s work in machine learning. Part of this will likely manifest in new features for Android users. Remember when Google showed off the Duplex demo back at Google I/O 2018? It’s now a significant part of the Pixel smartphone experience. The technology currently helps your Pixel 7 answer the phone for you when you don’t want to.
With a more profound emphasis on Android 14 building upon the multi-screen work Google started on with Android 12L, the developer conference is likely to make a big to-do about the varying screen sizes the platform currently supports. But where is the Pixel Tablet? We were expecting something in the first quarter of this year after Google announced the tablet device at I/O 2022, but there’s yet to be anything. Perhaps Google I/O will be the official debut of Google’s new tablet device — just like the year it debuted the Nexus 10 or the Pixelbook.
A Pixel Foldable?
Android is already ahead in foldables. Samsung is on its fourth generation of folding hardware, and more brands overseas are joining the game. We like the reports giving us concrete specs — like this leak about a larger battery pack in the Pixel Fold. Though Google I/O is not immediately a hardware show, the company has used the conference to tease what’s coming in the fall maelstrom of phone launches. It would be satisfying to see them trot out a foldable at this spring’s conference.
Teases of devices that won’t launch
Of course, it’s not a Google developers conference without something that won’t come to the public. I’m thinking of the pair of AR glasses Google closed out the show with last year. The two-minute video showed how a standard pair of Buddy Holly-style glasses could translate languages in real time. But we’ve yet to see Google launch something in this particular form factor, despite competing AR translation glasses having already made their way to market.
Bard, who is that?
Google is putting a lot of dev power into AI now that it’s facing some real competition from Microsoft after gobbling up ChatGPT. In previous years, the company has been allowed to trot out AI theoretically. But now that Microsoft is in the game (and even Zuckerberg), expect most of the Google I/O 2023 keynote to be about Bard, its competitors, and what’s next in the company’s language learning models.
Every year for the last few years, Google has used its developer conference to remind us it’s making mid-range Pixel devices that are super affordable. Expect to hear about the Pixel 7a from this year’s keynote. It’s likely to launch in the summertime, like the Pixel 6a. We’ve already got some rumours floating around from noted leakers that the mid-range device recently passed through the FCC.