Over the years, Google I/O has been largely focused on software that affects the Google universe. From Android to ChromeOS to Google Assistant to the web, Google I/O is – at the core – a developer’s conference. Yes, there has been hardware announced and even handed out at the event in the past, but that 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 in the Pixel 4a and Pixel 5a in the following years, those subsequent phones weren’t announced at I/O. And yes, Google announced the original Google Home at Google I/O 2016 and also handed out Chromebook Pixels to all attendees in 2013, but other than those few examples, the hardware at I/O each year has been few and far between.
And that’s to be expected, right? After all, it is a software developer’s conference, not a hardware event. Yet, each year we get our hopes up that Google will finally take Apple’s WWDC lead and start using this large, very-public event to at least announce a couple products that best showcase that software. And each year we are usually let down.
This year, more than any I can recall, there is a ton of hype around Google-made hardware that “looks likely to launch” at Google I/O and I’m growing more skeptical by the minute as the keynote approaches. In just about a day from now, we’ll have our answers, but for now we’re all wondering if this will be the year that Google uses this large stage to announce a few products that – frankly – shouldn’t be held until October for a hardware event. With that said, let’s look at all the possibilities from most to least likely to make an appearance 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 get some Google I/O attention. The Pixel 3a was announced at Google I/O and the fact that it is an integral piece of hardware for Android, Chrome, and Google Assistant make it a very easy tie-in for Google to include in this event. The leaks are all out there and it’s clear this phone is nearing a launch, so I/O makes a lot of sense.
Somewhat Likely: Pixel Watch announcement
The Pixel Watch is just as hyped and just as leaked as the Pixel 6a, but the tie-ins aren’t quite as deep. Sure, there could be a section in the keynote about Wear OS and people will lose their minds if Google simply teases the Pixel Watch, but it’s still not a foregone conclusion in my mind. The rumors continue that we’ll at least see a tease or announcement this week, but I could also see Google holding this one until the fall, too.
Possible, but not likely: new Nest Hub
The new Nest Hub should 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 dubious that it will break 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 releases leak from Google, I’d expect a bit more action surrounding this one, and it’s just not been there. Possible? Sure. Likely? Not really.
Unlikely: Chromecast w/ Google TV HD
In a similar vein, the rumored Chromecast w/Google TV HD hasn’t been showing up very often since it was discovered in January. This downgraded-but-cheaper Google TV device will likely do well when it arrives, but I could see Google dropping this one in a post on The Keyword and simply shipping it to stores over time. I’d be surprised to see much of an announcement at any event for this device, so taking up keynote time at Google I/O feels very unlikely at this juncture.
Highly unlikely: Pixel Buds Pro
Finally, we have the Pixel Buds Pro. While I’m 100% thrilled to hear Google is working on a proper upgrade to the bug-prone Pixel Buds, it feels very unlikely that a product we’ve heard nothing about up until last week would get launched at a non-hardware- specific event. I could be wrong, but the timing just feels all off and earbuds are simply not a software-related piece of hardware you’d expect to see at a developer conference. Without passing through things like the Bluetooth SIG and FCC, it is quite unlikely we’ll see Google even mention these earbuds until the fall.
There’s so much about Google I/O that is exciting each year that has nothing to do with hardware, and we’re anxious to see what Google announces in this year’s version. As always, there are tons of sessions and a couple keynotes that will likely be stuffed with all sorts of software-related updates, so the next few days will be very busy around here. The first keynote kicks off at 1PM EST/10AM PST and you can watch right alongside everyone else over on YouTube or on the Google I/O 2022 site. We’ll be there for sure!