What to Expect at Google I/O


If the past is precedent, Google will kick off this week’s I/O conference by rolling out some of its latest products and services. What can we expect to see from the search-engine giant?

According to rumors, Google will offer a first glimpse of Android VR, its virtual-reality competitor to Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. While the standalone headset won’t boast the processing power of those rival devices, it could nonetheless give Google a toehold on the upper end of the nascent virtual reality market. (At a previous I/O, Google rolled out Cardboard, an ultra-cheap VR platform where your Android smartphone or iPhone serves as the “screen.”)

In addition, Google will almost certainly offer previews of the next versions of Chrome and Android, two of its core properties. Next-generation Chrome will reportedly emphasize HTML5 over Flash, while the latest Android will feature a split-screen configuration—you can run apps side-by-side—along with multi-window support on tablets and larger-screen devices, notification enhancements, background optimizations, and API tweaks.

(Gadget-heads are hoping that Google will show off new versions of the Nexus phones, as well as any wearables, such as the next editions of Android-powered watches.)

Even before I/O officially kicked off, Google introduced some new innovations, most notably Spaces, its new app for sharing assets in group conversations. According to the company’s blog, the platform also leverages Google’s existing properties: “With Spaces, it’s simple to find and share articles, videos and images without leaving the app, since Google Search, YouTube, and Chrome come built in.” With Facebook and other rivals bulking out their respective messaging apps, Google needs to show it can be innovative in the space.

If you follow tech-world scuttlebutt, Google could also plan to use this I/O for anything from an update on its self-driving car efforts, to unveiling a competitor to Amazon’s popular Echo device. And who’s to say the company won’t follow Microsoft’s lead, and introduce its own version of the chat bots that every tech firm seems obsessed with at the moment? Whatever Google launches in the next twelve months, chances are excellent you’ll catch your first glimpse of it this week.