Over the years, Google I/O has largely focused on software that affects the Google universe. From Android to ChromeOS to Google Assistant to the web, Google I/O is – at its core – a developer conference. Yes, material has been announced and even distributed at the event in the past, but this is the exception: not the norm.
In 2019, Google chose to unveil the Pixel 3a, but even though that phone set the trend for an annual update to the Pixel 4a and Pixel 5a in subsequent years, those later phones weren’t announced at I /O. And yes, Google announced the original Google Home at Google I/O 2016 and also gave out Chromebook Pixels to all attendees in 2013, but other than those few examples, hardware at I/O each year has been scarce.
And that’s to be expected, right? After all, this is a software developer conference, not a hardware event. Still, every year we hope that Google will finally take the lead at Apple’s WWDC and start using this big, very public event to at least announce a few products that best showcase this software. And every year we are generally disappointed.
This year, more than I can remember, there’s a ton of hype around Google-made hardware that “looks like it’s likely to launch” at Google I/O and I’m getting more and more skeptical as the speech is approaching. In about a day or so we’ll have our answers, but for now we’re all wondering if this will be the year that Google uses this big stage to announce a few products that – frankly – shouldn’t be kept until October for a material event. That said, let’s take a look at all the possibilities, most or least likely to pop up in my opinion.
Most likely: Pixel 6a
Of all the things looming in Google’s hardware portfolio, the Pixel 6a makes the most sense to grab the attention of Google I/O. The Pixel 3a was announced at Google I/O and the fact that it’s part of the hardware for Android, Chrome and Google Assistant makes it a very easy link for Google to include in this event. The leaks are all there and it’s clear this phone is about to launch, so the I/O makes a lot of sense.
Quite likely: Pixel Watch announcement
The Pixel Watch is just as hyped and just as leaked as the Pixel 6a, but the ties aren’t as deep. Sure, there could be a section in the keynote about Wear OS and people would lose their minds if Google just teased the Pixel Watch, but that’s still not a foregone conclusion in my mind. Rumors continue that we’ll see at least one announcement or announcement this week, but I could also see Google holding this one out until the fall as well.
Possible, but unlikely: new Nest Hub
The new Nest Hub is expected to be a detachable device that could be a wild new form factor for Google’s home hardware, but the lack of recent activity or leaks around it make me doubt it’ll break the cover at Google I /O 2022. We heard a report back in March about this device, but not much since then. As much as we see big leaks from Google, I would expect a little more action around this one, and it just isn’t there. Possible? Sure. Likely? Not really.
Unlikely: Chromecast with Google TV HD
Along those same lines, the rumored Chromecast with Google TV HD hasn’t popped up very often since it was discovered in January. This downgraded but cheaper Google TV device will probably work fine when it arrives, but I could see Google dropping this one in an article on The Keyword and just shipping it to stores over time. I’d be surprised to see a lot of announcements at any event for this device, so making time for Google I/O seems highly unlikely at this point.
Highly unlikely: Pixel Buds Pro
Finally, we have the Pixel Buds Pro. While I’m 100% thrilled to hear that Google is working on a proper upgrade to the bug-prone Pixel Buds, it seems highly unlikely that a product we didn’t hear about until last week will be launched on a specific non-material-event. I could be wrong, but the timing just seems wrong, and the headphones just aren’t the software-related hardware you’d expect to see at a developer conference. Without going through things like the Bluetooth SIG and the FCC, Google’s unlikely to even mention these headphones until the fall.
There are so many exciting things happening on Google I/O every year that have nothing to do with hardware, and we can’t wait to see what Google announces in this year’s release. As always, there are tons of sessions and a few keynotes that will likely be filled with all sorts of software updates, so the next few days will be very busy here. The first keynote kicks off at 1:00 p.m. EST / 10:00 a.m. PST and you can watch alongside everyone else on YouTube or the Google I/O 2022 site. We will be there for sure!