Google I/O 2021 preview: Google resurrects Wear OS and Android tablets?

Enlarge / Sadly the Shoreline Amphitheatre will be vacant this 12 months. Google I/O is on the internet-only.

image alliance / Getty Photographs

Google I/O 2021 is actually taking place this calendar year. But owing to a specified around the world pandemic, it will be all on the net as a substitute of exterior in the sunlight of Mountain Watch. Google skipped the 2020 edition totally, but the enterprise is ultimately completely ready to deliver its first at any time digital Google I/O. For us onlookers, that suggests we’re formally coming into not known territory.

Google I/O starts off Tuesday, May 18 at 1 pm EDT, when Google/Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai will choose the phase and presumably exhibit off what Google has been operating on all calendar year. We have been prepping for the clearly show ourselves, and the shift to an all-virtual occasion hasn’t lessened the volume of tea leaves to read through. We’re anticipating to see rather a couple matters around the future week.

Well, very first, let us chat about what we’re in all probability not likely to see: the Pixel 5a. At Google I/O 2019, we saw the start of the Pixel 3a in May perhaps of that year. But with I/O 2020 canceled, the Pixel 4a did not strike the industry till a great deal later in the subsequent year, on August 20, 2020. Normally we would phone the launch timeframe for the 5a a toss up in between mirroring the 3a or 4a launch dates, but Google has already set us straight. Again in April, the enterprise stated the Pixel 5a would be “announced in line with when previous year’s a-sequence cellphone was released.” So which is August, not May, and not at Google I/O.

New Android 12 things, hopefully such as the huge redesign

We’re up to various releases of the Android 12 Developer Preview by now, but Google I/O will mark the release of the to start with “beta” model. Android 12 undoubtedly has a large redesign coming—we’ve presently found leaks of the new design and style, and it appears to be like a sizeable departure from former variations. There is a wild new coloration-changing UI that shifts to match your wallpaper. All the buttons, sliders, and each and every other UI widget have been reshaped and rearranged. It has a new scroll list structure that, like a Samsung mobile phone, operates greater on more substantial displays by to begin with commencing with a big title and pushing the major of the listing written content even further down the screen, the place it can be easily attained. There’s a new privateness UI, which alerts you when your digicam, microphone, or place is in use. There is also a new glimpse for widgets, mirroring iOS’s the latest widget revamp.

There is so a great deal “Android redesign” evidence out there we really don’t basically know what Android 12 appears like out of the box. We just maintain viewing screenshot following screenshot of wildly unique UI bits, and owning capabilities that modify color primarily based on consumer configurations also truly does not assistance when hoping to visualize the entire offer.

We know all that is coming. The concern is, will it be officially unveiled at Google I/O? The earlier developer previews have been perfectly great transport new performance while stripping out all the attention-grabbing UI alterations. Google could want to blast out the new structure from the I/O virtual phase, or it may want to conserve it for nearer to start. A person very good indication we just not long ago got was a leak of what seems to be to be a Materials Layout sizzle reel from YouTuber Jon Prosser. It can be even now not pretty enlightening as to what Android 12 will glance like, but it appears to be like the kick-off movie for unveiling the following variation of Materials Structure.

The Google I/O routine states at the very least a several points will be talked about. The new widgets are a little something that will need to have developer uptake, so those people are having disclosed at Google I/O for the duration of the “Refreshing widgets” discuss. The communicate guarantees to show off “helpful, discoverable, and beautiful widgets on Android and Assistant.” There is certainly an appealing curveball at the conclude there—what do Android homescreen widgets have to 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 lifeless, but probably the new widget API will give a little something comparable? A one block of code that can display screen in many areas?


Sharing code amongst Android home display screen widgets and the Google Assistant is one thing Google essentially started operating on before—it was called the “Slices” API. For some reason, although, it never ever took off. In a person of our many interviews with Dave Burke, Android’s head of engineering, we asked him level blank, “No matter what happened to the Slices API?” Displaying remote app written content in various spots sounded like a superior strategy to us.

“I nonetheless feel it’s a terrific idea, but I will not believe we located the fit for it just nonetheless,” Burke claimed. “We in fact constructed it out, and appropriate now we’re doing the job with the Google Assistant team to see if we can figure out some thing that will make feeling.” The Google Assistant group, you say? That sounds suspiciously like the new widget API. So we’ll be on the lookout for exhibiting widget written content in other, remote locations.

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