- Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Get ready for a whole lot of Google news.
On Wednesday, the company kicks off its annual, three-day long developers’ conference at a big stadium near its headquarters in Mountain View, California.
Besides schooling the thousands of attending developers on how to best integrate its products and services, Google uses its biggest event of the year to show off all the cool new tech it’s been working on and to lay out its vision for the future.
Here’s everything we’re expecting to see at Google’s I/O conference:
Sundar Pichai will define the new era of Google.
- Beck Diefenbach/Reuters
Sundar Pichai was handed the keys to the Google kingdom in August, after a big corporate restructuring created the Alphabet parent company and crowned him CEO of the Google subsidiary. Pichai headlined the event last year, but this year will mark his big coming out party as the leader setting Google’s agenda going forward.
Virtual reality will be huge.
- AP/Christof Stache
Since Google introduced its deceptively simple Cardboard headset back at its 2014 conference, virtual reality has turned into the next big battleground, with Facebook and Samsung all making big bets on the technology.
This year’s schedule is packed with VR-themed presentations, including several about filmaking.
We’re expecting Google to talk about a rumored new interface for Android that any developer can use to build VR apps. Reports have also hinted that Google might release a new VR headset, though Google may not actually show it off at I/O:
I wish I’d been more clear about this: Android VR will be announced this week. Google is working on headset, but may not be announced now.
— Peter Rojas (@peterrojas) May 16, 2016
The expected merger of Android and Chrome will be in the spotlight.
- Shannon Hauser/Flickr
Google quashed reports last year that its two operating systems, Chrome OS and Android, are about to merge entirely. But this year’s I/O could show off new ways that the two operating systems may be inching a little closer.
For example, Ars Technica first reported that Google might start letting its Android Play Store run on Chrome. So, prepare to hear about new ways that Android apps could make their way onto that platform.
And its other “moonshot” research projects will get some love, too.
The leader of Google’s secretive Advanced Technologies and Projects Group jumped ship to go to Facebook last month, but the show must go on at I/O, with ATAP presenting on the final day of the conference.
The company’s description for its ATAP session is predictably cryptic, promising projects that “connect us with our humanity and leave us with a sense of wonder,” but it indicates that we’ll get updates on Project Jacquard, the electronic fabric it announced last year, as well as its radar sensor tech that can detect a person’s physical movements. Hopefully, we’ll hear about some new stuff too.
Google will share its vision for its 3D mapping tech, Project Tango.
- Matt Weinberger/Business Insider
Project Tango lets smartphones and tablets understand and map the world through 3D motion tracking and depth perception, which can be helpful for things like virtual and augmented reality.
Google has said it will bring Tango to consumer smartphones later this year. The I/O schedule hints at new ways that Project Tango devices can not only see but “remember” the space around you – which is one of the capabilities that makes Microsoft’s HoloLens headset so interesting.
We’ll get more details about the latest version of Android — and might finally learn what the “N” stands for.
- Flickr / Janine
In an unconventional move, Google actually announced its developer preview for its Android N operating system update in March instead of at I/O this year, but we’ll still likely get some details about features in the freshest developer version.
A reminder: We already know that Android N introduces quick reply messages, split-screen multitasking, better battery life, and new emoji. We could find out when it will ship and, in keeping with tradition, which sweet treat Google will name the software system after (past versions of Android include Marshmallow, Lollipop and KitKat). I’m personally hoping for Nutella.
We’ll get some updates on Google’s mobile payments platform, Android Pay.
Overall, mobile payments have been slow to take off, since a lot of retailers still don’t have the special terminals required for services like Android Pay or rivals Apple and Samsung Pay.
The company will be buzzing about artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Google CEO Pichai has been particularly vocal lately about how Google integrates machine learning and artificial intelligence into all of its products and how they’re the backbone of the company’s future.
With that in mind, expect to hear all sorts of updates on Google’s machine learning research. One announcement to come out of it might be new tools to help developers build bots for various messaging apps, according to The Information.
Fingers crossed: we could hear about Google’s Amazon Echo competitor, too.
- Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/Wikimedia commons
Google isreportedly working on a competitorto Amazon’s sleeper hit, the smart speaker Echo, that could respond to voice commands. Beyond just a speaker, the company’s reportedly working on a whole voice-activated platform called Google Home,
Although Recode reported that we probably wouldn’t hear about this new device at I/O, it can’t hurt to hope!
We’ll be attending I/O to bring you the hottest news as it drops, so make sure to follow along.