It is less than a week to go until Google’s annual developer conference, “Google I/O”. There is now enough detail on their conference schedule for us to start seeing some general trends.
Last year’s I/O had a big focus on Machine Learning with Google Assistant’s roll out on phones and Google Home, their Amazon Echo competitor. There were also announcements focused on improving phone-based VR with Daydream, a consolidation of their experience with the experiment in Cardboard VR headsets. And a continuation of the convergence between their Chrome and Android operating systems with the introduction of Android apps installable on Chrome OS laptops. As is usual, Google I/O also features the normal round of incremental updates to Android on phones, TVs, Automotive devices, and watches.
I/O 2017 is unlikely to be too different. We already have a lot of information about the Android ‘O’ release as developers already have a preview in their hands. But Google are probably holding back a few surprise platform features as they did with Assistant last year, so I’m looking forward to those. Customer facing features will also be rolled out alongside what looks like a concerted push to improve app stability by giving developers help in testing and architecture features.
Away from phones and tablets, it looks like there will be a big push in their IoT platform, Android Things and the associated APIs and services, Weave. Android Things has been through several rounds of developer previews since November and we’ll probably see Google announce a date for production readiness along with some partners. There are several talks on productising Android Things prototypes in the I/O schedule. Another big focus is Google’s Firebase platform - a Backend as a Service (BaaS) which has been steadily growing in features, scope, and integrations with Google’s enterprise offerings since it was acquired in 2014.
The big excitement is in the anticipation of the unexpected. Their less tangible and generally more “wacky” longer-term technology bets are often first shown at I/O. Initiatives like Project Jacquard (their connected clothing collaboration with Levi), Soli and their (now spun out) self-driving car initiative Waywo. As a developer, it’s a very busy and exciting time.