Google I/O 2020 set for May 12: What to expect

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Android fans will want to clear their calendars during the second week of May. Google's annual I/O developer conference is set to begin May 12, with the three day conference likely to showcase the next version of Android as well as possible new hardware from the company.

Google announced the date in typical fashion — through an online collaborative game that, once solved, revealed the May 12, 13 and 14 dates for Google I/O 2020. Google CEO Sundar Pichai also tweeted out the dates for the conference which returns to the Shoreline Amphitheater just a stone's throw from the company's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters.

So we know when and where Google will gather together its developers this year. What we don't know yet is what's on the agenda for this year's conference, although we can make some pretty good guesses.

While Google typically releases a developer beta for this year's Android update sometime in the spring, Google I/O provides a platform for an in-depth look at the new features coming to the mobile operating system before the full release arrives at the end of summer. So we'd expect to get an in-depth preview of Android 11, assuming Google sticks with the number naming convention it adopted with Android 10 last year. (Or perhaps, freed from the challenge of coming up with a Q-themed dessert, Google will return to its old naming convention for its mobile OS and show us Android Rice Krispie Treats or Android Reese's Pieces or some other Android R-themed name.)

All developer conferences tend to focus on developer tools — the word "developer" is right there in the description, after all — but Google threw us a curve ball last year by showing off several consumer hardware devices. Those surprise announcements included the Google Nest Hub Max, a 10-inch smart display, and the Pixel 3a lineup. Considering that those lower priced Google smartphones helped improve sales, it wouldn't be a surprise to see a variation based on last fall's Pixel 4 flagship debut at or around Google I/O.

Google also loves to show off its prowess with machine learning and what it can do with its vaunted knowledge graph at I/O. This includes introducing new features for the Google Assistant — remember, it was at the 2018 I/O where Google showed off how the Assistant could place restaurant reservations over the phone on your behalf — and rolling greater software smarts into products like Gmail, Google Maps and elsewhere.

Other potential topics at Google I/O 2020 include plans for Android Auto, Android TV and Wear OS, though Google's wearables platform hasn't gotten much love at recent developer conferences.

With consumers also becoming increasingly concerned with what big tech companies are doing with all that personal data we keep handing over, you can also expect Pichai and other Google executives to talk about privacy and security on stage during the May 12 opening keynote. During last year's keynote, Google introduced autodelete controls for determining when your browsing data gets erased as well as the ability to use your Android phone as a security key.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.