All eyes are going to be at the Shoreline amphitheatre in California this week, where Google’s I/O conference is going to kick off on May 7. Like every year, Google is expected to showcase what it has been working on for the past year, and what it plans to bring to the market in future.
Experts are of the opinion that the company may announce two new more affordable Pixel smartphones. “Google I/O has traditionally been a showcase for Google’s AI prowess. This year, I anticipate the focus to be on hardware, whether it be through the new generation of Pixel phones or its smart display or a potential update to the Android TV," says Prabhu Ram, Head – Industry Intelligence Group, CyberMedia Research.
Google keynote at the IO will be livestreamed on company’s I/O website and their Developers YouTube channel.
The new entrant at the I/O will be the new Pixel smartphones. If the leaks and reports are to be believed, Google might launch two new mid-range Pixel smartphones, starting at $399 with 5.6-inch and 6-inch screens. They will be driven by Qualcomm’s mid-range Snapdragon 670 or 710 octa-core chipsets. Google’s Pixel 3 smartphones have been doing well in overseas markets, and according to Counterpoint Research, Google is now the 3rd premium smartphone vendor in the US.
However, the Pixel phones haven’t done well in emerging markets, including India, which is largely dominated by Samsung, OnePlus and Chinese OEMs. With the mid-range Pixel phones, Google stands a better chance in these markets.
Google recently started releasing developer previews for its next Android version in March, available only on Pixel smartphones, but the pubic beta is reserved for the IO event. It should also be available on more Android smartphones.
However, this year the public beta was released in the same month as the preview. Google is trying to speed things up as it wants to give developers ample time to play with the new features.
Google is also expected to unveil some new features with Android Q beta 3 like a more elaborate storage permission, a full-fledged gesture control, and a desktop mode similar to Samsung’s Dex.
Under the new storage feature, for access to shared storage, apps will require multiple permissions as the single storage permissions will be replaced by four separate permissions for Photos, Videos, Music, and Downloads.
This will limit storage access to apps as much as possible.
The optional gesture navigation introduced in Android 9 is expected to give way to a new iPhone X inspired gesture control, driven entirely by swipes. The trademark circular home button will also be replaced by a single navigation bar.
The Samsung Dex inspired desktop mode is an attempt to push Pixel smartphones as work-centric devices among professionals. It can be one of the exclusive features that Google can use to sell its Pixel smartphones.
Google has been facing stiff competition from Amazon in the smart speaker space, with several new smart home products offering Alexa as the default personal assistant. In order to boost its position in the smart home space, the Search giant might speed up the roll out of Duplex, its AI-based voice calling service that can talk like humans, book tables at restaurants, make appointments and generally act like a real assistant.
“We will see new features and improvements likely to be introduced to the Google Assistant, alongwith updates to the Google Duplex AI. These new updates will be to further increase availability of Duplex AI, as well as build on the Google Assistant to make it more market competitive," added CMR’s Ram.
Duplex is currently available to users in 43 US states on Pixel, Samsung Galaxy S10 and Apple iPhones.
After failing to make much impact with VR gaming via its DayDream VR platforms, Google is eyeing the gaming community with a hardware-agnostic cloud gaming service called Stadia. Launched early this year, the platform allows gamers to play games on their web browser without having to download and install a game file on the device first. Players can access Stadia and games on it on any laptop, desktops, smart TV, tablet or smartphone that has a web browser. Support for mice, keyboards, USB controller, or Google’s wireless game controller are available for Stadia games.
Like any new platform, it’s success will likely depend on how many games are on it. At the developer event, Google might announce new games and tie-ups with game publishers for Stadia.