Google I/O 2020 canceled completely: Online event scrapped

Google has canceled all of its I/O 2020 activities, having previously suggested that it would make the annual developer conference an online-only event. I/O was due to take place in mid-May in Mountain View, California, but Google was forced to rethink its in-person event because of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the time, Google said it would be canceling the physical event at the Shoreline Amphitheater. The decision came not long after Mobile World Congress was axed, and was followed by a number of tech and automotive events being postponed or wiped from the calendar completely in reaction to COVID-19.

Now, Google has gone even further. "Out of concern for the health and safety of our developers, employees, and local communities — and in line with "shelter in place" requirements by the local Bay Area government — we sadly will not be holding an I/O event in any capacity this year," the company confirmed today.

"Right now, the most important thing all of us can do is focus our attention on helping people with the new challenges we all face," Google said. We'll continue to do everything we can to help our communities stay safe, informed, and connected. Please know that we remain committed to sharing ongoing Android updates with you through our developer blogs and community forums."

It's recognition that going online-only isn't necessarily the easy alternative to a physical event that some might assume. While not having to deal with around 7,000 developer attendees does solve one issue at a time when we're being told to prioritize social isolation, there are nonetheless pressures placed on teams to get content ready. That's regardless of whether its distribution will be in-person or online.

As increasing numbers of states shift to recommending all but the most essential businesses send employees to work from home, it's likely we'll see more decisions like this one. Google already said it would be refunding developers who bought I/O 2020 tickets by March 13, while those who had been allotted a ticket will automatically be granted the option of purchasing a ticket for Google I/O 2021.