Google I/O is the search giant's yearly developer conference – in 2022 it's hosted from the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California, from 11th to 12th May in 2022 – which features keynotes around Google's core software and hardware products.
For the 2022 showcase I expect it'll mean some fairly big things, not only in terms of Android updates, but also on the hardware front. There's long been rumours of a new all-Google wearable (largely expected to be a watch), plus talk around the latest Pixel phone (or is that phones, plural?). Here's what I expect to see.
1. Google Pixel 6a
The 'a' model in the Pixel line of mobile phones is effectively the 'lite' version. It's widely believed that the Google Pixel 6a will be announced at I/O 2022 – skirting the delays that plagued its 5a predecessor back in 2021.
I think it makes perfect sense that the 6a will arrive at I/O: there's been ample time for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro to make their mark, so if you've not been lured in by those handsets and have been waiting for something more affordable, but cut from the same cloth in terms of appearance, the Pixel 6a has to be the ticket.
So what to expect from the Pixel 6a? If it's following in the footsteps of previous generations then I think it'll look a lot like the Pixel 6, albeit with less premium cameras, but I do think Google will continue to push Tensor, its own chipset, to promote all things Google across the full range – so no major cut in raw power terms.
2. Google Pixel Watch
This one has long been talked about: a proper Google smartwatch. It's already broken cover with Samsung Galaxy Watch 4-beating hardware – so I can't see any reason why Google I/O 2022 wouldn't be the launch site for this all-new and all-important wearable.
Exactly how Google intends to sell the watch beyond its competition is the big question though. I've used plenty of Wear OS devices in the past, which are fine enough, but there's never quite that Apple Watch level of seamlessness that you get from the non-Android competitor.
Will the Google Pixel Watch be the device to bring an all-new OS, or at least the next steps for where Wear OS will be headed? I'd like to think so with the latter. Google really needs the Pixel Watch to have a unique selling point to separate it from those other wearables out there.
3. Android 13
I think this one is pretty much a guarantee: every year Google uses I/O to launch its next-gen Android software update, showcasing what's coming to the latest and greatest Android phones and tablets in the near future. As ever, it's another way to promote Pixel as the devices to first receive the update, although I'd expect to see Samsung and maybe some other makers also high up that list too.
What can you expect from Android 13? I believe it'll bring design tweaks, to establish that it's the latest stand-out software solution, along with a better lock screen functionality with more accessible controls for Google Home, 'now playing' screen, and better independent volume adjustments.
I'd really like to see Google offer dual app support for dual SIM devices, something that's long been in Huawei, Xiaomi and umpteen other makers' software over Android for years, but remain unconvinced this'll happen in Android 13.
4. Google Pixel 7 (not launching)
Okay, so I'm turning this one on its head here. I absolutely do not expect to see the Pixel 7 at Google I/O 2022. It's just far too early in this phone series' lifecycle for another champion flagship to be revealed – even teased, to be honest.
Plus, let's not forget, there's all manner of chip shortages and Google will, no doubt, be looking to bolster its power around its own silicon, Tensor, to make the Pixel 7 series the most powerful and attractive in its history.
But I think that'll involve a bit of patience for sure – so watch out around October time to see what ol' Google has got up its sleeve. It could be the phone to really bring it to Samsung and other top-tier makers for 2023.
Google I/O 2022: In summary
All in all, I expect Google I/O 2022 will be the biggest deal for quite some years. After various hardware delays in 2021, this is the year the web giant wants to set things right, while also doubling down on presenting its ecosystem as a fully considered front-to-back operation that can stand up against Apple's well-established competition.