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Google I/O 2021: What to expect? Android 12, Pixel 5A and more

Google’s major developer conference of the year, Google I/O is back this year, after skipping the event last year, and is expected to be full of Google product reveals.

The conference will start May 18 at 1 PM ET, and here we’ve discussed all the things you can expect in Google I/O 2021 and the scheduled events to watch out for through the three days.

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Android 12 could be on the horizon

While Google has already released a few developer previews for Android 12, they’ve mostly brought small tweaks and more inclined features towards developers. However, the upcoming keynote is where many people are expecting to get a lot more information from Google about the upcoming Android 12, as is the fashion with these keynotes. 

We’re expecting Google to reveal Android 12’s biggest user-based features, including the rumoured stacked widgets, the new lock screen and other UI changes that are rumoured to be in the works. 


Possible Pixel Buds A announcement

Earlier this month, the Android Twitter account posted a tweet about the new Pixel Buds A. The tweet was, however, quickly removed. Google has been teasing this new version of Google Buds for quite some time and has leaked it quite comprehensively. 

Pixel Buds are available in four colours

The Verge reported that an email sent out by Google in April included an image of unreleased olive-green pixel buds, which are expected to be the new A-series wireless earphones. 

While the leaks themselves don’t tell a lot about the earphones, we can guess by the ‘A’ tag in the name that these are going to be a more budget-friendly version of the Pixel buds and apparently come with a ‘Fast Pair’ experience compatible with Android 6.0 and higher. 


Google could unveil its new mobile processors

This year’s I/O could also see the unveiling of the new mobile processor’s Google is rumoured to be working on since last year. The processor, codenamed ‘Whitechapel’, will be used in newer Google Pixel devices. 

According to XDA Developers, these SoCs, also called GS101, will have a 3 cluster setup and a Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), a big performance boost for ML applications. These SoCs are also expected to be accompanied by a Titan M security chip. 

An in-house SoC will bring major performance improvements to the Pixel lineup, much like what Apple got with its A-series processors in iPhones. However, there’s a good chance that Google might not reveal the processors until they have a finished device to be announced alongside. 

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There could be some noise around the Pixel 5A

The Pixel 5a was announced back in April, and the company said that the phone would be available later this year in the USA and Japan. However, there hasn’t been much chatter about the phone since.

Google Pixel 4a was announced in August 2020 and currently sells for INR 31,999

The Pixel 4A, 4A 5G, and 5 were all announced in August last year, making it unlikely that the company will talk about a Pixel phone in the upcoming keynote. However, Google could always surprise up by sharing more details on the phone or making it available to a wider audience. 


There could always be a surprise

While the aforementioned topics are expected to take up the bulk of Google’s keynote, there are a bunch of other things that Google could throw our way. 

Stadia 

Earlier this year, Google shut down Stadia’s in-house game development team after little over a year since its launch. The I/O 2021 could potentially feature some Stadia news, including updates to the business model, wider device support or more games coming to the platform from various studios. 

Stadia released with 22 titles in November 2019

Updates to WearOS

With the rumours going around that Samsung is working on a WearOS based smartwatch, the first from the company since 2014, it’ll be the perfect opportunity for Google to announce some updates to the wearable OS. 

Currently, WearOS gets a lot of flak for heavy resource consumption and poor battery life but still has quite a few supporters. There’s a good chance we could see a major overhaul to the OS. 


Google’s Fitbit acquisition

With Google’s Fitbit acquisition finally completed, there’s a chance that Google could announce what it plans to do with the company in the coming future. Although it’s unlikely that we’ll see any new Fitbit hardware at Google IO, we could get updates on Fitbit OS. 


New smart home devices and updates to Google Assitant

Google has already confirmed that it’ll be unveiling new smart home devices at I/O 2021. However, we haven’t gotten any insight as to what these devices could be, so be prepared for a few surprises.

The keynote has also been used in the past to demonstrate some of the biggest new features and updates to Google Assistant, so we wouldn’t be surprised if Google pulls something out of their hat here in regard to Google Assistant. 


Look out for these Google I/O 2021 keynotes and programs

Here are a few interesting programs you might want to catch at Google I/O 2021 between May 18 and May 20.

Google I/O 2021 ProgramsScheduleSpeakers
What’s new in Android?Day 1 – May 18Chet Haase
Dan Sandler
Romain Guy
Create your first Tile in WearDay 1 – May 18Jeremy Walker
AMA: Chrome and WebDay 1 – May 18Dion Almaer
Paul Kinlan
Smart home developer MeetupDay 1 – May 18
Building a web application with Angular and FirebaseDay 2 – May 19Mark Thompson
Building your first Flutter appDay 2 – May 19Filip Hracek
What’s new in Machine LearningDay 2 – May 19Kemal El Moujahid
Sarah Sirajuddin
Craig Wiley
What’s new in FlutterDay 3 – May 20Zoey Fan
Chris Sells
Extend an Android app to Google Assistant with App ActionsDay 3 – May 20Jessica Earley-Cha
AI/ML demo derbyDay 3 – May 20Zack Akil
Markku Lepisto
Kaz Sato

You can check out the full schedule to get a proper look at all the Google I/O 2021 events.

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