There's no denying that 2021 was a big year for Google. The Pixel 6 saw it re-enter the flagship phone market after the cut-back Pixel 5, and more impressively Google did it all without the help of Qualcomm, debuting its own Tensor chip to solid reviews across the board.
So what does next year hold? Plenty! Here’s everything we’re expecting from Google in 2022.
Google in 2022: Pixel phones
Google in 2022: Pixel 7
As light follows day, the Pixel 7 is bound to follow the Pixel 6. It's an annual update that’s fallen in October for five of the last six years, and September for the other one, so once again we should know a great deal more in the fall.
As you’d imagine for something so far away, we don’t have much to go on yet, but we’re expecting the second-generation of Tensor chip to power things, and there’s talk of an under-screen selfie camera being introduced for 2022, too.
Google in 2022: Pixel 6a
The ‘a’ family of Pixels is less easy to predict — indeed, there was talk for a while that there wouldn’t be a Pixel 5a due to chip shortages, and when it eventually emerged, it was solely for the US and Japan.
But apparently the Pixel 6a is in the works. Again, it’s early days, but the phone is expected to get a big camera upgrade, adopting the Pixel 6’s 50MP Samsung ISOCELL GN1 sensor, and doing away with the 12.2MP camera used in the last three generations of Pixel a. We’d assume it will feature a lower-specced version of the Tensor chip, but it’s possible that Google will stick with Qualcomm again.
Google in 2022: Pixel Fold
The Pixel Fold — Google’s long-rumored rival to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 — was said to be arriving before 2021 was out, but that seems increasingly unlikely. Indeed, there are reports that it may be pushed to the second half of 2022 or cancelled altogether.
If it does still exist, we’re expecting a 7.6-inch foldable display, but with Google saving costs on the same 12.2MP IXM363 sensor found in all Pixel handsets between 2018’s Pixel 3 and 2020’s Pixel 5.
Google in 2022: Android
Google in 2022: Android 13
Even more predictable than a new Pixel phone is a new version of Android for it to showcase. This typically launches alongside the Google flagship in September/October, although beta versions are available earlier for those looking to test the waters.
It’s a bit early to say what features may be appearing, though XDA Developers says that secondary accounts may be able to have their own NFC profiles in Android 13 (opens in new tab).
Uncharacteristically, Google may first launch an incremental update — Android 12.1 — ahead of the next generation. This is rumored to be an update to the OS specifically for foldables, reintroducing a dedicated tablet UI for handsets that can switch from small to big screen. It’s expected to arrive alongside the Pixel Fold — if that device hasn’t been cancelled.
Google in 2022: Wearables
Google in 2022: Pixel Watch
Google’s first attempt at a wearable to show off Wear OS has been rumored before, but this time the company is apparently serious. The Pixel Watch will, according to leaked promotional images, feature a round display with an Apple Watch-style crown on the right-hand side.
It’s apparently being worked on by the Pixel Hardware group, which sounds unremarkable, until you remember that this is the company that spent $2.1 billion on buying the fitness wearable specialist Fitbit. Still, there may be some Fitbit integration in Wear OS, according to the report — with that part of the OS supposedly codenamed “Nightlight.”
2023 or later
Not in 2022: Pixelbook
You might assume that Google’s flagship Chromebook would be due a refresh after 2019’s Pixelbook Go. You would assume wrong (opens in new tab). “Next year, there won't be anything coming,” said Chrys Tsolaki, Retail Partner Manager for Chromebooks at Google. “In the future, I don't know."
Not in 2022: Pixel Slate
This one lacks official confirmation, but the signs aren’t looking good. The Pixel Slate was officially discontinued nine months after release and Google reportedly scrapped plans for a smaller Pixel Slate back in 2019 (opens in new tab). It looks, for now, that Google is simply done with tablets, though patents suggest that may not be the case forever.
Google in 2022: The Unknowns
There are a bunch of Google brands that have been very quiet in the leaks department, so it’s hard to know whether we’ll see a refresh in 2022 or not.
The Nest family
The Nest family of cameras, thermostats, doorbells and alarms may or may not see an update in 2022. On one hand, these products certainly don’t benefit from an annual upgrade in the way that phones do, but on the other, Google will be aware that it needs to maintain parity with Amazon and its growing collection of Ring and Blink smart home staples.
Then there’s also Nest Audio — formerly known as Google Home. The last smart speakers were released at the tail end of 2020, and the Nest Home Hub Max is even older, appearing in September 2019. So even though we’ve heard nothing at this stage, it doesn’t seem impossible that a refresh could be on the cards in 2022.
Google’s own brand of earbuds aren’t released every year, and so far we’ve seen releases in 2017, 2020 and 2021. But given the success Apple and others have had in the product category, it wouldn’t be surprising if Google had something else up its sleeve for 2022, too.