Google I/O 2024 Was a Snoozefest

Google I/O 2024 Was a Snoozefest

I got up at 2:30am this morning to cover Google’s annual developer keynote, I/O 2024, expecting something interesting to be shown off. It is historically, after all, the mid-year event for Google hardware and software announcements, where the company typically makes fairly palatable announcements for both developers and casual users alike. This year, though, Google didn’t just go hard on AI, it only went in on AI.

When I say ‘developer keynote’, it doesn’t exactly inspire intrigue among casual tech users like myself and much of our readership. We focus on consumer-oriented stuff after all, so anything at a conference beyond a certain threshold of “this may enter your everyday life” or “this should be genuinely important to you” typically isn’t for us. Google’s keynote at I/O usually meets a certain consumer-friendly expectation though.

While there were some eye-catching AI things shown off at Google’s big show-and-tell this year, such as a forward-sizzle for new Android AI features (more on Android 15 is expected to be announced tomorrow) and the visually impressive Project Astra, the event was a far cry from the ones in 2022 and 2023.

Look at it this way. At the 2022 event, Google debuted a bunch of early Android 13 features, increased security across accounts, an initiative in tandem with CSIRO, the brilliant Pixel Buds Pro, the Pixel 6a, and forward sizzles for what would become the Pixel Watch, Pixel Tablet, and the Pixel 7 range.

At the 2023 event, Google went harder on AI, but it still found the time for some more consumer-friendly announcements. The headliners were the Pixel Fold, which didn’t come to Australia, the Pixel Tablet, and the Pixel 7a. WearOS 4, Google’s Find My Device platform, protections against deepfakes online, and updates to Google’s Project Starline were also in attendance and were interesting. Android 14 was only mentioned once, though.

This year we had… Well, for the most part, it just felt like a bad university lecture, but the lecturer just kept naming AIs and data sets. We had Gemini Flash, Gemini Pro, Gems, Gemini Advanced, Gemini Nano, Project Astra, AI Agents, and Veo, only to name a few of the titles given to the AIs of today’s event.

While in previous years I could wrap up watching I/O knowing what its headliners were, I’m really struggling this year. I guess this is why Google brought its announcement of the Pixel 8a forward, along with its quieter announcement of a dockless Pixel Tablet – because these would stick out like a sore thumb at an event so crammed with AI.

Google’s moving to debut Android 15 Beta 2 tomorrow, and with that, we can expect some non-AI news to come out of I/O, as the developer conference goes on. It’ll be a breath of fresh air from the two-hour livestream I just watched.

Considering Apple has done a similar thing with recent products in the lead-up to its mid-year developer conference, I hope they don’t follow Google down the same boring path.

Also, AI was mentioned 124 times, but it definitely felt like more. Tap the brakes, guys, AI stuff really isn’t interesting enough for a two-hour event.

Catch up on Google I/O 2024 here.

Image: Google

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