What to expect at Google I/O 2021

Gelo Gonzales
What to expect at Google I/O 2021

Image from Google

Check out some of the major Android changes that Google may be announcing at its annual developer conference

Google’s big annual developer conference makes its return on Wednesday, May 19, Philippine time, with a keynote happening at 1 am. Last year’s event was cancelled because of COVID-19.

While the bulk of the 3-day conference is meant mostly for the developers and tinkerers dealing with what’s under the hood of Google’s products, I/O also sees announcements for consumer-facing products.

Here’s what we’re expecting this year: 

Android 12 

Android 12, as reported by XDA Developers, may be looking at some bold UI changes including a new lock screen, new always on display, a redesigned clock and notifications, and a “widget stack,” which allows you to scroll through several widgets on one screen as demoed below:

Google in its developer preview discussed the new notifications: “We’re refreshing notification designs to make them more modern, easier to use, and more functional. In this first preview you’ll notice changes from the drawer and controls to the templates themselves. We’re also optimizing transitions and animations across the system to make them more smooth. As part of the updates, for apps targeting Android 12 we’re decorating notifications with custom content with icon and expand affordances to match all other notifications.”

The Verge reported that there will be tweaks to the way Android handles multimedia including support for spatial audio, and support for AVIF image file format, which is meant to replace JPGs and offers better and cleaner compression.

A few other interesting features that we’d love to hear more about are the ability to wirelessly share Wi-Fi passwords with the tap of a button, and the ability to add emojis and text to screenshots. 

A budget true wireless earphones? 

Google may be working on a less expensive version of its Pixel Buds earphones. Google is the actual source of the leak this time, accidentally tweeting an image of what is apparently the Pixel Buds A-Series. The budget versions of Pixel phones have an “A” in their names such as the Pixel 3A and 4A, so we’re guessing the A-Series Pixel buds are lower cost versions as well. Take a peek here.

Google’s custom processor 

Much like Apple with its in-house A1 chips, Google has been rumored to be developing its own custom processor for its Pixel phones. This would be the first processor by the company if it turns out to be true.

The said chip could be called “GS101” and will reportedly boast better performance in machine learning applications. 

Pixel phones have historically used chips from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon line. Google having its own chip will likely stoke the fire between Google and Apple fans, with the latter proudly saying “We did it first!” 

Snapdragons are some of the best mobile processors around, so it’d be interesting how Google’s own could match or top that performance. –

Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.