Google may have skipped its big developer event last year, but I/O is returning for 2021, though with an online format as you might expect. Announced today, the three day event will kick off on May 18, and as always we’re expecting to hear about the latest in Android, Chrome, and some of the more unusual moonshot ideas that Google is known for.
In previous years, for example, that’s included the first demo of Google Duplex, its AI-powered voice service that promises to save you from speaking to restaurants and other businesses on the phone. Google has also used I/O to tease enhancements to its cloud gaming, show off what Chrome OS will soon be able to do, and put the spotlight on what its developers have been up to as their spare time projects.
Last year, however, life interfered with all that. Google I/O 2020 was initially meant to be an in-person event, held in Mountain View, CA, but the pressures of the growing COVID-19 pandemic meant the plans were forced to change. Google initially announced it would switch to an online-only event, but come mid-March it decided to cancel the whole thing instead.
At the time, Google pointed out that even if attendees were remote, the nature of organizing a big event for online delivery still meant its own employees and more would potentially be at risk. Since then, we’ve seen Apple be met with a pretty much ubiquitously-positive reaction to its online WWDC 2020 – something the Cupertino firm hopes to repeat with WWDC 2021, which will also be online-only – and other companies hold large-scale virtual events of their own.
Come mid-May, it’ll be Google’s turn to show whether it can do that. I/O 2021 will be free, and though some and sessions and content will need to be reserved in advance, that will be free too. In addition to the opening keynote, there’ll be I/O Workshops, Ask Me Anything Sessions (AMAs), personalized content, live Q&As, and the I/O Adventure.
The consumer and developer keynotes won’t need reservations, and neither will the technical sessions. However workshops and AMAs are interactive, and will be limited in numbers, as will meetups. The full schedule, Google says, should be published in late April. General I/O registration is free, and open from today.