Google I/O is kicking off on May 8 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA — right on the doorstep of the world-famous Googleplex. We're expect to hear much more about what Google has in store for the next year.
The event is mostly geared towards Google's message to developers. But we still get lots of hints as to the future of Android phones, Google Home smart speakers, and the Google search engine itself.
As usual, we expect to hear about upcoming changes coming to Android with the next version, codenamed Android P. We might also see the introduction of a spinoff version of Android that's designed to run on home appliances and other types of machines.
And above all else, we'll surely hear about the future of Google's big bet on artificial intelligence, which underpins pretty much everything else.
Check out what to expect at Google I/O 2018:
Android P will support the notch.
A notch in the newly announced LG G7, before Google's official support for the notch in Android P. Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider
An early version of Android P has been out to developers for a little while now, so we already have a good idea of what to expect.
For instance, Google will almost definitely give us an idea of what to expect with the forthcoming version of Android, codenamed Android P.
So far, the one thing we know about Android P is that Google is adding support for the "notch," as popularized by the iPhone X.
When a phone has an edge-to-edge screen, the notch is where the selfie camera and various other sensors have to live.
Phones like the iPhone X, Essential Phone, and LG G7 all have notches, as well as a variety of Android devices from Chinese phone makers. Getting official support for the notch from Google should make it easier for app developers to adjust their apps to work with the notch seamlessly.
Android P will get new gestures to replace the standard control buttons.
Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider
Google accidentally revealed in its Android developers blog that it will remove the traditional navigation buttons at the bottom of smartphones. Those button include the home button, the universal back button, and the app multitasking button.
Based on the blog post, a simple pill-shaped home button will replace the traditional navigation buttons. We'll be using swipe gestures to go to the home screen, use the universal back button, and bring up the app multitasking menu.
Google took down the images of the new navigation in its blog, which suggests the company wasn't ready to show people about the change at the time of the blog's release. Google may be ready to elaborate on the new style of navigation during Google I/O.
Overall, Android P will give Android a cool new look.
Android P is giving many parts of the decade-old operating system a fresh new look, which Google is likely to show off.
Things like the settings menu, quick menu in the notifications shade, and the volume slider are getting a refreshed design. Even the clock is moving from the top right of the screen to the top left. Google will likely explain its rationale on Tuesday.
You can check out Marques Brownlee's video on some of the design changes coming to Android "P."
Android is coming to "Things," too.
A smart fridge from LG (not running on Android Things). ©LG
Google announced a new "spinoff" version of its Android mobile operating system called Android Things that can run on home appliances and other machines, according to Reuterson Monday.
The company wants Android Things to be the operating system running smart appliances like refrigerators, robots, and even cash registers or vending machines, Reuters reported.
The idea here is to add a familiar operating system - Android - to all kinds of devices so that everything can be "smart" and connected to the internet.
Android coming to new devices is big news, so we'd expect Google to expand on its plans for Android Things at Google I/O.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a huge focus for Google.
Beyond Android, Google is devoting a tremendous amount of its considerable resources towards artificial intelligence, or AI.
Google has made it a major initiative to make AI smarter and more useful, such that it plays a larger role in our lives. The search giant anticipates AI playing a role in every single one of its products going forward.
So far, Google's major AI products include Assistant - a smart voice-activated assistant that can answer questions, play music, and control smart-home devices. The company sees it as a natural extension of the core Google search experience.
There's also Google Lens, which is almost certain to make an appearance at Google I/O. Lens lets you point your device's camera at something and get all kinds of information about it. It's another way to find answers, and to stop us from looking down and tapping away at our smartphones to get information.
Google Home will likely get some additional brains.
Google's smart speaker device - Google Home - is directly linked with its AI initiative. It's true that Google's Assistant can be used on smartphones and other mobile devices, but the Google Home smart speaker makes it accessible without having to scramble for a gadget.
At Google I/O, we can expect to hear more about new skills, apps, and capabilities for the Google Home speaker. We can probably also expect an update on Google Assistant devices with screens, which were promised back in January.
Ultimately, Google is jockeying for position with the Amazon Echo and its Alexa virtual assistant, which is currently leading this nascent market.
Virtual Reality (VR) is another big Google push.
Google's Daydream standalone VR headset is coming soon, and Google will surely talk about its capabilities — as well as the future of virtual reality overall.
The Daydream standalone VR headset doesn't require a smartphone or computer to run VR apps and games. It works entirely on its own with a dedicated controller, cameras, and sensors. Expect Google to make a lot of noise around this headset.
Wear OS for smartwatches is getting smarter, too.
Google recently renamed its smartwatch operating system, from Android Wear to Wear OS. Around the same time, it got an update to support the Google Assistant. As a result of its new support for Assistant, Google will likely talk about why Watch OS matters to the company, and what it has in store for the future.
Google also recently partnered up with fitness-centric smartwatch maker Fitbit, and we'd be surprised if the company didn't talk about its plans for the fitness smartwatch realm.