Google I/O 2018: How to follow it and what to expect

Some big Android announcements are coming later today...
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Google has its fingers dipped in seemingly every segment of the tech and gadget world, and there's one place where all of those interests converge: Google I/O.

While a developers' conference might not sound exciting on the surface, Google uses I/O every year to unveil big new features for Android, and has showcased big-deal hardware and experiences like Android Wear and Google Daydream in the past.

We're only weeks away from I/O 2018, and already the rumour mill is spouting ideas of what we might hear about this time around – and no, it's probably not the Pixel 3 just yet. Here's how you can follow the action and what we expect to see.

How to watch...

Google I/O takes place from 8-10 May in Mountain View, California, but even if you couldn't get a ticket (or aren't, you know, a developer), you'll still be able to follow along live.

Google always kicks things off with a big keynote address to outline its biggest new software and hardware endeavours, and we expect to see that streaming from the official I/O website and YouTube. The keynote takes place at 10am PT in California on 8 May, which ends up being 6pm in London.

Google will almost certainly be streaming developer sessions during the three-day span too. These might prove a bit dry, since they're really meant for devs, but they usually contain intriguing nuggets of info, which Stuff will on hand to pan for.

If you're super-keen, there are also Android and iOS apps with streams and schedule info. Of course, we'll also be following the events here from Stuff HQ, and will bring you all of the biggest news and announcements as they come.

What we expect: Android P exposed

Android 9.0 P is already real: a developers' preview released in March, and devs and die-hards have been learning all about its nuances and enhancements in the time since.

However, Google always uses I/O to reveal additional new features for an upcoming Android release and really dig into its qualities, so we expect that there will be some announcements at the keynote. It's quite likely that we'll see a public beta released then, as well, so more and more people can help with the testing process.

One announcement could be the formal name, of course. Google recently released some spring wallpapers, one of which prominently features popsicles, and Android Popsicle certainly sounds appealing. That said, Google has tried to throw people off the sweet-naming scent in the past, so for all we know it's Android Pez, Pie or Praline.

What we expect: Wear OS 3.0

Google recently made a subtle but significant change to Android Wear: it dropped the Android out of the name. Now it's Wear OS by Google, which reflects the fact that more and more iPhone users are wielding the watches – but surely there's more on the horizon.

Android Wear has underwhelmed over the last couple of years, as Google has seemingly taken a backseat on pushing the platform while fashion brands take a swing at creating their own hardware. Hopefully Google uses I/O 2018 to unveil a proper Wear 3.0 build with new enhancements, along with a new flagship watch or two worth wearing. Will we finally get a Pixel Watch?

A recent Android P developer preview of Wear OS brought a default darker theme, while battery savings come in via limiting background apps plus the watch stops communicating via cellular, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth once it's off your wrist. We'll see if that's just the tip of the iceberg if Google wants to renew its wearable battle against the Apple Watch.

What we expect: Assistant upgrades

Google wants its Assistant to be everywhere, and they're certainly making headway between smartphones, Google Home devices, smart displays, and more. We're expecting to hear about new advancements at Google I/O, as well.

The Google Assistant will stretch far and wide in 2018, hitting 38 more countries with 17 new languages, and the I/O schedule has sessions covering enhanced smart home integration with Google Home as well as features for the smart displays we saw at CES earlier this year. With luck, the smart helper will be even smarter once I/O concludes.

What we expect: VR moves

This one's a longshot, but Google and LG have created an incredibly high-resolution OLED-on-glass display for VR headsets, which boasts a pixels-per-inch count of 1443 and a 120Hz refresh rate. That could be incredible for virtual reality.

They're planning to show off the tech during Display Week 2018 later in May, but hopefully we get a little taste during I/O 2018. We're sure developers will be champing at the bit to have access to this kind of ultra-dense display tech.

Even if not, we're hoping to see some news on the Google Daydream front. Despite supporting a number of devices, Daydream hasn't been quite as big as we'd hoped, nor quite as compelling as Samsung's Gear VR. And with the Oculus Go standalone headset likely releasing soon, there will be even more competition in the VR space. Let's see some serious moves, Google.