Google’s annual developer conference is one of the most exclusive must-attend events on the Android calendar. It’s not always easy to get in, but if you can, it’s definitely worth it. I was lucky enough to go last year and got to meet Sundar Pichai and Larry Page for the effort. Rubbing shoulders with CEOs, engineers, developers and enthusiasts aside, though, what else can you expect from Google I/O 2016?
Google I/O 2016 dates and location
Back on January 12, freshly minted Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweeted the dates and location for Google I/O 2016: May 18-20 at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California. For those unfamiliar with the location, it’s a long way away from any hotels and doesn’t exactly feature great public transport options, sparking widespread speculation that it might have been chosen to provide Google the opportunity to show off its self-driving cars…
How to get a Google I/O ticket
Once the Google I/O 2016 site went live you had a small window in which you could register your interest in attending. Registration ran from 9 AM PST on Tuesday, March 8 until 5 PM PST on Thursday, March 10. All you needed to do was hit the official Google I/O 2016 website, sign in with a Google account and complete the registration process. Once that was done you got a registration confirmation email, but that didn’t mean you had a ticket. No, you then had to wait for the results of the infamous Google I/O lottery to go out…
Google I/O lottery results
The Google I/O 2016 lottery results have been released, with the lucky winners being notified that they have been selected to attend. Winners will be contacted via email and given a link with which to complete the registration process within 24 hours. “Winners” of the lottery still have to pay $900 for a regular ticket or $300 for an academic ticket, but considering how difficult it is to get into I/O this is a small price to pay. Plus, you’ll get the infamous goodie bag to offset any feelings of buyer’s remorse. You’ll have until April 29 to refund your ticket if necessary, but why would you? If you go you’ll be able to hang out with myself, Josh Vergara, Lanh Nguyen and maybe even Sundar and Larry.
Google I/O 2016 app
The official Google I/O 2016 app isn’t in Google Play yet, but each year the old app gets replaced with the new one, so when the new one goes live you can grab it via the button below. The Google I/O app includes live streams for the keynote and major sessions, schedules, maps, reminders and some fun stuff.
What to expect from Google I/O 2016
More Android N
This one is a given, because Google announced a while back that annual developer previews of the next major Android release will be presented at each year’s I/O conference. However, 2016 is a little bit different, with the Android N developer preview making its first appearance more than two months ahead of Google I/O. The preview will receive monthly updates until July, when the finishing touches will be put on it for release in Q3, 2016 (that means by the end of September). This also means that the 2016 Nexuses will also arrive sometime in September. For a full breakdown of Android N features, hit the link below.
Google announced at Google I/O 2015 that the first self-driving cars would be released on the streets of Mountain View in 2016. So what better time to demo what Google Auto is capable of than at Google I/O 2016? It may be a little far-fetched to expect Google to arrange transport for thousands of I/O attendees via its tiny autonomous vehicles, but the event will definitely give everyone the chance to take a ride in one. However, Google has recently advertised 36 jobs in the self-driving car project, so things are definitely gathering steam.
The Google division in charge of self-driving cars formerly known as Google[x] – and now simply known as X – has recently received a new CEO who is, incidentally, a former Ford and Hyundai exec. We can expect to see John Krafcik take the stage with all the latest on Google’s autonomous vehicles and their expected commercial release in 2020. Considering the first official self-driving car accident has just occurred, you can expect that to come up as well… (and now there’s another self-driving car accident to discuss.)
A massive shake up of Android Wear is long overdue. The mobile platform came out early, moved sluggishly, and has now been surpassed by both Apple’s wearable platform and even Samsung’s Tizen OS. With multiple OEMs grumbling last year that if Google didn’t start pushing the wearable platform more aggressively they would consider developing their own, it’s now crunch time for Android Wear. I can’t tell you what will be announced, but I sure hope something significant is.
I was at the ATAP session last year and witnessed a fully functional Project Ara prototype get assembled on stage in seconds. The camera module was left out until the device had booted up, then it was inserted, runtime detected and working within seconds. Pretty impressive stuff. With the official trial of Project Ara being delayed until 2016 you know there will be some stage time dedicated to it. Unfortunately, we’ve seen no evidence that project Ara will be making an appearance at MWC 2016, although a bizarre 13.8-inch Project Ara tablet recently appeared on GFXBench.
Yet again we’re expecting Android Auto to be front and center at I/O 2016. Android Auto is really starting to enter the mainstream and the first sub-$20,000 vehicle was just announced last week: the Hyundai Elantra. 2016 may well be the year that Android Auto stops being something only geeks talk about and starts being something everyone talks about. Considering Android Auto didn’t rate a mention at I/O 2015, it should definitely get some stage time this year. Let’s hope there’s lots more third-party apps coming.
Project Aura is Google Glass 2.0. At least it would be if the original Glass had ever gone anywhere other than the Explorer Edition. Aura is supposedly the Enterprise Edition that recently showed up in FCC documents, showing a slightly revised design with a hinge and larger prism. The consumer version of Glass may well be dead and buried now, but what final form Project Aura will take and when it will be available is anyone’s guess.
The recently announced Project Tango smartphone from Google and Lenovo was shown off privately at MWC 2016, but we’re pretty sure it will also get some more advanced air time at I/O in advance of its summer shipping date. Depending on how far along the device is, it may even make its way into the 2016 I/O goodie bag for attendees. The official announcement of the Google/Lenovo partnership said the device would be available in “summer of 2016”.
Following Google’s creation of a new virtual reality division called, creatively enough, Virtual Reality, a recent story from the Financial Times has Google baking Android VR into stock Android and producing a slightly higher-end Cardboard viewer made out of plastic that will work will all smartphones. Yet another report, this time from The Wall Street Journal, has Google making a new standalone VR headset that doesn’t require any smartphone, PC or games console to operate, with a chip sourced from a Dublin-based chip maker by the name of Movidius.
With all these stories appearing in major outlets, big things are clearly afoot at Google VR. Keep an eye out at I/O 2016 for the possibility of two new VR products, an Android VR announcement, more on 360 video, YouTube quality, Cardboard partnerships and Expeditions. Google may have been a little late to the VR game, but at this rate, Facebook and Oculus are about to get some pretty serious competition in 2016.
I actually don’t think there will be any major Chrome OS announcement at I/O 2016, unless they are related to the arrival of Material Design. Despite the recent rumor that Chrome OS would be folded into Android, Google officially denied the claim. Furthermore, Google’s SVP of Android, Chrome OS and Chromecast, Hiroshi Lockheimer, has assured everyone that there will be a range of new Chromebooks in 2016, but we probably won’t see them until Nexus time. However, we will probably see some kind of Chrome OS integration demoed in Android N.
Considering Google’s excellent carrier-switching Project Fi is still only available for Nexus users, Google I/O 2016 would be a great time to announce the service is available for more smartphone owners. We can’t say we’ve seen any evidence of this ourselves, but there are a few rumors pointing to this possibility. If you know something we don’t feel free to share your evidence in the comments below.
There’s also sure to be more on Nest, GoogleOn and smart home integration, the Internet of Things generally and project Brillo specifically, and maybe even something about a commercial application for Project Soli’s radar sensor for wearables.
What do you expect to see at Google I/O 2016? Will you be there?