For a company as big and spacious as Google, an annual developer conference can be overwhelming. And honestly it is like that. Google offers a dizzying array of services and adventures in almost every consumer tech industry under the sun, not to mention the 7 billion plus user core Internet products it owns and operates. But the company has a measured pace when it comes to Google I / O, and we've come to understand how it prioritizes certain products over May each year.
At this year's I / O, scheduled for Tuesday, May 8, at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California, we know we're talking about the future of Android and Google's artificial intelligence efforts become . But there will also be news on everything from its new portable platform, Wear OS and Google Assistant to Android TV, Google Home, Google Play and Search. This is the time of year when Google pulls out all the stops to show how its software is smarter and more future-oriented than the products of its competitors Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft.
So what we can expect next week about Google's future
Google I / O usually revolves around the latest Android version, which will be version P this year. Following the structural overhaul of Android last year with Oreo, notifications have been redesigned and smartphone up-dates improved. In the future, Google's newest approach to mobile software is more visual and focused on improvements to interface design.
We have been playing the first developer preview since the beginning of March and are already recognizing the big trends. Android P is focused on making room for the now ubiquitous display hack on full-screen smartphones to give users more accurate privacy settings and to streamline and simplify the design language and ease-of-use of menus, docks, and preference screens. There is also a rumor Android P could contain some of Apple's iPhone X gesture design. We'll get even more information about Android P when Google releases a second developer preview on Tuesday.
Beyond Android, I / O is an event to learn about all things artificial intelligence in Google. CEO Sundar Pichai has been positioning AI as the secret sauce for the future of his business for years: software that can see and understand the world, identify objects, and parse natural language will enhance nearly every Google product over the coming years. This process has already begun, with products such as the Google Translate language and text-based assistant software Google Translate and the Google Lens object and image recognition platform. There are also all the ways that Google's AI can be used in other alphabet businesses, such as the DeepMind research lab in London and the Waymo self-driving vehicle unit.
That is, I / O will be more consumers and developers, so we should expect to hear more about products like Google Lens, as well as the company's TensorFlow platform and its tensor processing unit chips. These chips are the core of the company's purpose-built AI training systems and help accelerate the learning process for its neural networks. Also, expect many of the same great predictions about AI that we heard on Facebook's F8 developer conference last week when executives described AI as the future of Facebook's business. Of course, it's no surprise that Google and Facebook are competing for top talent as both companies have competing AI research departments that have some of the highest salaries in the tech industry.
Google Assistant and Google Home
Google Assistant and the Google Home hardware family, in which it is mainly found, are expected to be at this year's I / O. Assistant remains Google's biggest competition against Amazon's Alexa and, to a lesser extent, Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana. And while the wizard is used as an app and voice interface on iOS and Android devices, it's best suited as the operating system layer for any number of smart home devices, starting with Google's Smart Speaker family.
We should expect some new features for Google Assistant and some new integrations for Google Home. The company is likely to save its hardware announcements for the default Fallpixel event. Do not expect new products from Google. But since Google has aggressively expanded the availability of Google Home products and third-party support for Google Assistant, I / O should offer exciting news in both areas.
Google Photos, Google News, and Google Play
While not necessarily the most exciting topics on the list, Google Photos and Google News are extremely popular products, along with the general Play Store platform, which are always earned on or off two mentions during the I / O each year. Above all, Google Photos is home to most Google Lens enhancements. As such, we'll probably see how the company's image and object recognition software enhances its photo storage app, helping to gain interesting insights and automating the creation of montages, GIFs, and other entertaining short-form video content.
AdAge also reported last week that Google plans to revise its news platform on both desktop and mobile devices. These include the launch of the Google Newsstand app in a new Google News mobile app, more YouTube videos and faster load times thanks to the company's AMP format on all platforms. The new Google News will be featured tomorrow at the I / O during the keynote. And as always, we should get new stats about the popularity of Android apps through the Play Store.
Google has been trying for some time to crack games by leveraging the ubiquity of Android and its apps in the living room with Chromecast to create a kind of hybrid mobile console solution. Unfortunately, it's never quite materialized. That could change soon, because Google seems to cook a lot in the gaming department. One is Yeti, the company's recently announced Chromecast-based game streaming service.
There is also the new social gaming startup arcade of tech entrepreneur Michael Sayman, now on Google after a high-profile appearance as a young 17-year-old employee of Facebook, the hints from H Q  Trivia . And then there's Google Play Instant, the Instant Apps-based service that lets Android smartphones test mobile gaming apps with a tap of a finger, activating them like a web game through the mobile browser. Each of these projects, or all of them, can be on the agenda for I / O, so game fans should keep their eyes peeled.
Material Design Refresh
Google's once-in-a-lifetime Material Design philosophy – the foundation for the vast majority of the UI and UX of modern design for Android, Chrome, and mobile apps – is now about four years old. That's probably why we learned of a "Material Design Refresh" that replaces the previous documentation with a "Material Design 2". Google may not plan a full-fledged continuation of Material Design, but it clearly thinks about how to update it. Visual language for 2018, and we can hear more about this I / O next week.
The case for a new version of Material Design is a subtle change to the Chrome tabs that was found on the Chromium website last month along with a new Material Design document. Rumors of a big Chrome redesign in September with focus on touch controls and ChromeOS benefits, and the massive Gmail redesign that went live last week. All signs point to a more unified approach to software for Android, Chromebooks, desktop Chrome and web apps – and I / O would be the first address to reveal this to the world.
In addition to Android P, I / O is the time of year when Google considers its kind of union status on its portable technology platform. Wear OS is now being rebranded from the previous Android Wear name. The new first Wear OS software, along with Android P, has been released in the Developer Preview, with some much-needed improvements in battery life and a welcome dark interface mode to make viewing the clock at a glance much easier on the eyes , And just this week, Google announced several updates for Wear OS, bringing more Google Assistant features to the platform.
In I / O, Google will probably shed more light on the first Wear OS update and release a second and more widespread developer preview (the first was limited to Huawei models). Hopefully, we'll also get a better idea of how Wear OS redefines the power of smartwatch software, especially in terms of concepts like voice control with Google Assistant integrations.
Android TV & Android Car
Developments in Google's set-top box software, Android TV, and the car infotainment product Android Auto have been relatively quiet lately. But all the news we get on these fronts will probably come on the I / O this year. Android TV has been around for a few years, and last year we saw a redesigned startup screen for the Android O version, but not much else. Also worth mentioning is the rumor that Google could release a new 4K Chromecast-style Android TV dongle that would include the full TV interface and possibly a remote control, although this is possible through images in an FCC file that have since been removed ,
As far as Android Auto is concerned, this software has been around for some years now, but since last month there is also wireless support for Pixel and Nexus devices recently. In January, Google announced that its assistant software would soon provide voice capabilities for Android Auto. Therefore, I / O is likely to mark the start of this function.