Tech

Google I/O 2019 – What to Expect

Google will be talking to their developers and fans this week at their developer conference, Google I/O, in Mountain View, California this week. The keynote will begin in the early hours of Wednesday morning (3am AEST, 8th of May to be precise), and in the hour and a half long keynote talk we’ll hear all about what Google will be working on across all their products over the course of the next year.

So what has Google got to announce?

Hardware

Pixel 3a and 3a XL

Google has, for the most part, always kept Google I/O as their developer focused event, but this year the rumours point to some more consumer focused announcements – including new hardware.

In the lead up to Google I/O we’ve had indications (leaks) that Google will be announcing at least three new products including their first real foray into the mid-range phone market with the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL and a larger version of their Home Hub.

To enter the mid-range phone market Google has dropped some of the more premium features of the Pixel line, including the materials for construction with Google using plastic as opposed to glass.

The phones will still be very usable with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor, 4GB RAM and 64GB of storage (sorry folks, no microSD card slot). The main difference between the 3a and 3a XL will be the screen with a 5.6” OLED display (2220×1080 resolution) for the Pixel 3a and 6” OLED display (1080 x 2160 resolution) for the 3a XL.

The Pixel 3a and 3a XL are Google’s way to bring the brilliant camera platform that the Pixel phones are known for down to a more affordable price point. The reliance on ‘computational photography’ on the Pixel line means that the 8 MP front shooter (which includes a wide-angle lens) and 12-megapixel rear sensor can take shots you’d normally expect from the higher priced Pixel line.

The phones will also include a rear fingerprint sensor and Google’s ‘Titan M security chip’ that will keep all your data safe on the device.

Of course the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL will come with Android Pie on-board and we’re fully expecting them to be able to run the Android Q Beta which is currently underway. Being Pixel phones from Google you can also look forward to three years of software feature updates and security updates.

Finally, the rumours are pointing at a colourful array of phones from Google for the mid-range including Clearly White, Just Black and a new option: Purple.

A Google Nest Home Hub Max?
While there’s been a number of leaks around the Pixel 3a and 3a XL phones, the Google Nest Home Hub Max is a little more mysterious – but the indications are that it’s real and will be announced on-stage tomorrow.

Google introduced the Home Hub at their October event last year. The small device includes an almost miniscule 7” display and speakers bringing a more visual experience to the Google Assistant experience from their Home line of speakers to customers. The Google Nest Home Hub Max will build on this with a larger screen and a camera.

The spec list for the Nest Home Hub Max ramps up what we got with the Home Hub with a 10.1-inch (1280×800 resolution) LCD display with an Amlogic T931 SoC and 2GB of RAM running it. The unit will for the first time include a camera – specifically a 12MP Sony IMX277 sensor and Stereo speakers.

While a larger display and stereo speakers are pretty self explanatory, the inclusion of a camera means the unit can be utilised more easily for video conferencing. We expect Google to take security concerns with the camera into account though and include a physical switch to cover the camera when not in use.

Will they come to Australia?
Well, the indications are actually good that we’ll see the new hardware launched here in Australia. Google has been pretty good about the arrival of new hardware on our shores of late, but we’ll have to wait for the details.

Software and Features

Google I/O is of course a developer conference so it’s more about what’s under the hood of your favourite Google products and services and we expect Google I/O to be chock full of new features.

Android Q

While Google launched our first look at the Android Q Beta back in March, we’re expecting more on this at Google I/O.

There’s a lot to expect for Android Q at Google I/O but unfortunately for consumers it’s mostly going to be under the hood. We can expect some clarification on things like Scoped Storage (a way Google will restrict your apps from playing with data it shouldn’t), improvements to the permissions for apps and of course some refinements to privacy protections.

Other things for more detail focused Android fans include APEX, a way for Google to bring more updates to your device through Google Play rather than waiting for a system update. The introduction of APEX updates will allow Google broader access to the Android system, though not your privacy, allowing for faster updates – because we all know Google definitely needs to up their game here.

While that all gets a bit technical, for users there’s very much expected to be an update to the way we navigate the Android OS. Google replaced the “Back,” “Home,” and “Recent Apps” buttons with the ‘Android Pill’ in Android 9.0 (Pie) last year, relying on gestures instead and while it was a good first step, the implementation left a lot to be desired. At Google I/O we expect to hear how these gestures will improve, and with a number of OEMs releasing phones with far better navigation gestures we expect to see a lot of improvement here.

What’s in a name? Well, for Google a lot. Unfortunately we won’t see any announcements of names for Android Q at Google I/O – they like to do that closer to launch around August – but we’ll definitely see Googlers on-stage teasing us with names.

Stadia
Though we have heard the announcement of Google’s streaming games service already, we’re expecting to find out more at Google I/O. At the announcement we lacked details on things like costs and a comprehensive list of game titles that will be available at launch, so we look forward to seeing more here.

Google I/O 2019 Schedule

There’s a lot on the Google I/O Schedule which gives us an idea of what we’ll see talked about at Google I/O this week. What we’re not seeing is almost as telling though. We’re seeing little on their wearable platform ‘Wear OS’ listed and almost nothing on their Daydream VR platform either.

The Google I/O schedule shouldn’t be relied on, at this stage at least, with the schedule traditionally updated after the big Google I/O keynote to take into account any and all of the surprises that Google announces.

It all happens this week

Google I/O kicks off tomorrow morning on the 8th of May at 3am AEST here in Australia. The keynote will be live-streamed on the Google Developers YouTube page and of course if you have a Chromecast enabled TV you can watch it in its entirety on the big screen.

We’ll have all the details of the announcements – including any local hardware announcements – right here on EFTM.

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Google I/O 2019 – What to Expect
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