Enlarge / Sadly the Shoreline Amphitheatre can be empty this yr. Google I/O is online-only.

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Google I/O 2021 is really taking place this yr. However as a consequence of a sure worldwide pandemic, it will likely be all on-line as a substitute of outdoor within the solar of Mountain View. Google skipped the 2020 version solely, however the firm is lastly able to ship its first ever digital Google I/O. For us onlookers, meaning we’re formally getting into unknown territory.

Google I/O begins Tuesday, Could 18 at 1 pm EDT, when Google/Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai will take the stage and presumably exhibit what Google has been engaged on all yr. We have been prepping for the present ourselves, and the shift to an all-virtual occasion hasn’t lessened the quantity of tea leaves to learn. We’re anticipating to see fairly just a few issues over the following week.

Properly, first, let’s speak about what we’re most likely not going to see: the Pixel 5a. At Google I/O 2019, we noticed the launch of the Pixel 3a in Could of that yr. However with I/O 2020 canceled, the Pixel 4a did not hit the market till a lot later within the following yr, on August 20, 2020. Usually we’d name the launch timeframe for the 5a a toss up between mirroring the 3a or 4a launch dates, however Google has already set us straight. Again in April, the corporate mentioned the Pixel 5a could be “introduced consistent with when final yr’s a-series telephone was launched.” In order that’s August, not Could, and never at Google I/O.

New Android 12 stuff, hopefully together with the massive redesign

We’re as much as a number of releases of the Android 12 Developer Preview by now, however Google I/O will mark the discharge of the primary “beta” model. Android 12 undoubtedly has a giant redesign coming—we have already seen leaks of the brand new design, and it seems to be like a big departure from earlier variations. There is a wild new color-changing UI that shifts to match your wallpaper. All of the buttons, sliders, and each different UI widget have been reshaped and rearranged. It has a brand new scroll listing design that, like a Samsung telephone, works higher on larger shows by initially beginning with a giant title and pushing the highest of the listing content material additional down the display screen, the place it may be simply reached. There is a new privateness UI, which alerts you when your digital camera, microphone, or location is in use. There’s additionally a brand new search for widgets, mirroring iOS’s current widget revamp.

There’s a lot “Android redesign” proof on the market we do not really know what Android 12 seems to be like out of the field. We simply preserve seeing screenshot after screenshot of wildly completely different UI bits, and having options that change shade primarily based on consumer settings additionally actually would not assist when attempting to visualise your entire bundle.

We all know all that’s coming. The query is, will it’s formally unveiled at Google I/O? The earlier developer previews have been completely effective delivery new performance whereas stripping out all of the attention-grabbing UI adjustments. Google may wish to blast out the brand new design from the I/O digital stage, or it’d wish to put it aside for nearer to launch. One good signal we only in the near past received was a leak of what seems to be to be a Materials Design sizzle reel from YouTuber Jon Prosser. It is nonetheless not very enlightening as to what Android 12 will appear like, however it looks as if the kick-off video for unveiling the following model of Materials Design.

The Google I/O schedule says no less than just a few issues can be talked about. The brand new widgets are one thing that can want developer uptake, so these are getting disclosed at Google I/O through the “Refreshing widgets” speak. The speak guarantees to indicate off “helpful, discoverable, and exquisite widgets on Android and Assistant.” There’s an attention-grabbing curveball on the finish there—what do Android homescreen widgets must do with the Google Assistant?

The Slices API is dead, but maybe the new widget API will offer something similar? A single block of code that can display in multiple places?

The Slices API is useless, however perhaps the brand new widget API will supply one thing comparable? A single block of code that may show in a number of locations?


Sharing code between Android house display screen widgets and the Google Assistant is one thing Google really began engaged on earlier than—it was known as the “Slices” API. For some cause, although, it by no means took off. In one among our many interviews with Dave Burke, Android’s head of engineering, we requested him level clean, “No matter occurred to the Slices API?” Displaying distant app content material in a number of locations gave the impression of a good suggestion to us.

“I nonetheless assume it is an amazing thought, however I do not assume we discovered the match for it simply but,” Burke mentioned. “We really constructed it out, and proper now we’re working with the Google Assistant crew to see if we will work out one thing that is sensible.” The Google Assistant crew, you say? That sounds suspiciously like the brand new widget API. So we’ll be looking out for displaying widget content material in different, distant locations.

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