What to expect from Google I/O 2021? Android 12, and much, much, more


After being forced to cancel the in-person event, Google I/O is back this year, but this time we’re going all virtual. This means that you are going to be able to watch all of the conferences and sessions from the comfort of your own home, without needing to worry about flights to California or being on your feet all day long.

A lot has been happening over the last few months, as we finally have gotten a taste of Android 12 thanks to the developer preview. However, Google I/O is about much more than just Android, as it’s a developer-focused event. So what are we expecting to see from Google tomorrow?

Android 12

Without a doubt, all eyes are going to be focused on Android 12, as we are expecting to get our hands on the first Android 12 beta. Throughout the Developer Preview, there have been leaks and references to some big design changes, but those have not been customer-facing. Thanks to Jon Prosser of Front Page Tech, Google is likely to have a surprise for everyone in-store with some major design changes.

We could be seeing an entirely new interface with rounded edges galore, along with some new widgets and an improved notification system. Prosser’s leak isn’t entirely new, as XDA Developers found some instances of these potential changes, but those were hidden in the code and have not been able to be activated manually through ADB.

Google Assistant

We weren’t expecting much from the Google Assistant camp, other than maybe some minor changes. However, Google surprised everyone by stating that there are some “new product announcements, feature updates, and tooling changes”. Google even went so far as to state that Assistant will be highlighted and discussed during a keynote session on May 19th.

Wear OS and wearables

This could finally be the year that Google dedicates its vast resources to making Wear OS much better than what we currently have. Last week, Google pushed a major update to bring Gboard to Wear OS, while reaching out to some users asking for feedback about the platform. Now that the Fitbit acquisition has been completed, and the new Nest Hub has Fitbit integration, could this be the Wear OS’s time to shine?

There are leaks that we could be seeing a Pixel Watch later this year, and making serious improvements to Wear OS could help lead the way ahead of time. Additionally, Samsung and Google could be working hand-in-hand on improving the wearable operating system, with Samsung’s next wearable rumored to be powered by Wear OS instead of Tizen OS.

Potentially new devices?

Over the past few months, we’ve been seeing leaks, rumors, and confirmations about upcoming Google products. It would make sense for Google to finally take the official veil off of the Pixel 5a and Pixel Buds A. After reports claimed that the Pixel 5a was being canceled altogether, Google stepped into refuting those claims, while confirming that the device was in fact coming, although it would only arriving in the US and Japan.

Google spilled the beans themselves on the Pixel Buds A a couple of times. It seems that these new Pixel Buds are going to be budget-friendly, along with featuring support for Google Fast Pair and having solid audio quality. We don’t know much more than that, but if Google does take the veil off of the Pixel 5a, it would make sense to give us a look at some new headphones that would match nicely with the mid-range handset.

What about Whitechapel?

After seeing major rumors about Google working on its own chipset, and then seeing renders of the Pixel 6 from Jon Prosser, there’s a chance that Google could share some more information. However, this one feels more like a shot in the dark, and not something that we would actually see from Google during I/O. Instead, any announcement about the company making its own chipset would likely come from a different event closer to the launch of the Pixel 6.


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