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Google I/O 2022 recap: Pixel Watch, Pixel 6a, Pixel Buds Pro and all the big announcements

All the big Google I/O 2022 products unveiled

Google I/O 2022 hardware including Pixel 6a, Pixel Buds Pro, Pixel Watch and Pixel 7
(Image: © Google)

For an event that tends to focus on software, the Google I/O keynote yesterday (May 11) wound up featuring a whole lot of hardware news, though we're in for a bit of a wait before any of the new products arrive.

As you would expect from an opening keynote at a developers conference, Google did spend some time talking about Android 13, though most of the information shared has been known since the public beta of the software update became available. 

Instead, the more eye-catching parts of the Google I/O keynote centered around new Pixel products. Here's what got announced:

Pixel 6a: Google's budget phone will still cost $449/AU$749, and will feature the Tensor chip in the Pixel 6. That will enable new features like Magic Eraser. The phone arrives July 28, with pre-orders staring July 21.

Pixel Buds Pro: These wireless earbuds feature active noise cancellation. They'll cost $199/AU$299, and like the Pixel 6a, you'll be able to place an order on July 21 in advance of their sale on July 28.

Pixel Watch: Google's first smartwatch will run Wear OS and incorporate FitBit features like sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring and other exercise tracking capabilities. You'll be able to control smart home devices from your wrist, too. The Pixel 7 isn't coming until the fall.

Pixel 7: We don't know much about the Pixel 7, but we do know what it will look like now that Google has given us a sneak peek at the device. The horizontal camera bar remains, but the lenses look a lot different on the model coming this fall.

Pixel Tablet: We know even less about the Pixel tablet slated for a 2023 release. It looks like one of Google's smart screens with the base cut off, though. It's being touted as a complement to Google's Pixel phones.

Even with that hardware focus, there were plenty of updates on software and services beyond the cursory Android 13 update. Google Maps is getting a cool immersive search feature, while Search will introduce an expansion of its recently launched multisearch feature that incorporates location. We were also impressed by the new scene exploration tool coming to Google Search. Google Assistant is getting updates, too, that allow you to interact with the assistant without first having to say, "Hey Google."

You can watch a replay of the Google I/O keynote on YouTube that we've embedded below. And if you missed our live blog, you can get a minute-by-minute recap of all the announcements below.

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Good morning, and welcome to Tom's Guide's Google I/O 2022 live blog. We'll keep you up to date on all the latest news from the conference as it happens — so bookmark this page and check back regularly.

Android 13 logo on a smartphone

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Google I/O is traditionally Android’s coming out party, with Google showing off its upcoming software update during the I/O keynote, and kicking off a beta process that culminates in a release of the next version of Android toward the end of summer.

Android 13 may well launch in the same time frame later this year, but you can already get the first beta of this software update, provided you have a Pixel phone. Nevertheless, we’d expect Android 13 to get a big showcase during today’s keynote, especially if Google wants to talk up any features that haven’t gotten much attention yet.

pixel 6 pro vs iphone 13 pro max: both phones laying face down on a hardwood floor

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

My colleague Jordan Palmer has been spending a lot of time with Android 13, and he goes into today’s keynote hoping that Google addresses a thorny issue — just what exactly third-party apps can track about you on Android. 

If you read Jordan’s Android 13 wish list, you’ll find that he thinks the solution to what ails Android lies in Apple’s approach to the same issue with its iPhones.

galaxy a53 and pixel 5a in hand against brick background

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

To my way of thinking, there are two intriguing things about the Pixel 6a, which may or may not show up at Google I/O today. For starters, what will adding the Tensor chip to the Pixel 6a enable the budget phone to do? And how does the Pixel 6a stack up against the Samsung Galaxy A53?

The answer to the first question probably helps supply the answer to Question No. 2. Should it arrive now, the Pixel 6a appears at a time when it’s the Samsung phone that can claim to be better value among Android handsets, at least if our Galaxy A53 vs. Pixel 5a face-off is anything to go by. The Pixel 6a has its work cut out for it to topple the A53, and Google’s usual expertise with photography will only go so far.

Google Pixel Event Tensor chip screenshot

(Image credit: Google)

As for potential Tensor powers, I tackled that topic a few weeks back when I wrote about the Pixel 6 features I hope to find in the Pixel 6a. Let’s just say that Magic Eraser — the tool for one-tap removals of unwanted objects and people from photos — had best make the grade.

There’s one hardware rumor that I don’t think will pan out for Google I/O 2022 and it involves the supposedly imminent launch of the Pixel Buds Pro

A few weeks back, leaker Jon Prosser said that the Pixel Buds Pro were set to debut soon, and even listed some colorways the wireless earbuds would appear in. Prosser didn’t specifically mention I/O in his tweet, but at the time, the developer conference seemed soon enough to fit the bill.

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There’s only one problem with that line of thinking — we haven’t heard many details about the earbuds themselves. And that’s usually as good a sign as any that a launch won’t happen any time soon. The more rumors you hear about a product, the closer you are to a launch, at least in my experience.

Then again, given my experience with tech predictions, don’t be surprised should Sundar Pichai stride to the Google I/O stage today sporting a pair of Pixel Buds Pro.

An Android phone running google maps - representing how to disable location tracking on Android

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you want a stealth candidate for a Google product to make news at I/O, look no further than Maps, one of the software giant’s more popular programs. Maps has made frequent appearances at I/O keynotes over the years, as the crowd seems to get fired up by a helpful app gaining even more features.

Off the top of my head, the past few I/O keynotes have seen Maps add Google Assistant, adapt an incognito mode and work AR-guided navigation into Live View. What could be on tap for 2022? Your guess is as good as mine, but I’d predict something that leverages all that data Google’s collected about people and places to fuel some new Maps capability.

Pixel Watch prototype

(Image credit: Android Central)

The Google Pixel Watch is a strong candidate to be revealed at I/O 2022 today, bringing to an end a lengthy wait for the company's first wearable. 

While we don't know for sure what it will look like or what its specs will be, we have a pretty good idea due to a multitude of leaks over the past few months.

The biggest of these, a couple of weeks ago, came when a Pixel Watch prototype was reportedly left in a restaurant. Yes, really. Assuming the images are genuine, it looks to be an attractively curved smartwatch with a near-bezel-less design and a couple of hardware buttons on the side. 

Google Pixel Watch leak

(Image credit: Front Page Tech)

That prototype leak was just one of the many around the new Pixel Watch; keeping up with them has been almost a full-time job these past few months. 

Fortunately, you don't need to wade through hundreds of articles in order to know what to expect, because we've pulled together the 5 biggest Google Pixel Watch rumors so far in one handy primer. 

Fossil Gen 5 LTE review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

With Google's Wear OS 3 expected to get some stage time at Google I/O 2022 today, you may be wondering if your Android watch can run the software. Our Kate Kozuch has put together this handy Wear OS 3 smartwatch eligibility guide so you can check. 

Google Pixel 6a vs. iPhone SE 2022

(Image credit: Tom's Guide/91mobiles/OnLeaks)

If the Google Pixel 6a debuts today it will inevitably be compared to the new iPhone SE 2022. And that's because both Google and Apple will be vying for having the best cheap phone on the market. Well, the best cheap phone under $500.

Our Pixel 6a vs iPhone SE 2022 preview shows you how these phones are stacking up so far based on rumors and our iPhone SE 2022 review. Apple's phone is a pint-sized powerhouse, but the Pixel 6a should have a much larger display (6.2 vs 4.7 inches), an ultra-wide camera (the iPhone SE has just one) and a smoother 90Hz display. 

Stay tuned for more info.

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TechDroider has a quick summary on Twitter of what to expect at Google I/O 2022 today, and it lines up with what we've heard. This includes the launch of the Pixel 6a phone and a possible tease of the Google Pixel Watch. So even though the watch may be shown today for the first time, it may not ship until the fall.

The tweet also says that we may see Android 13 Beta 2 rolling out and a build of Android 13 for non-Pixel devices. However, we would caution loading the beta on your primary phone. 

Pixel Fold concept design shows a look similar to the Pixel 6

(Image credit: Waqar Khan/Let's Go Digital)

Google has long been rumored to be working on a Pixel Fold device to go up against Samsung's best foldable phones, and it's possible we could see a glimpse today of Google's first foldable. Or at the very least we could learn more about new foldable phone software features in Android 13.

Meanwhile, Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 4 is expected to debut in August, and today some new Galaxy Z Fold 4 renders have appeared that show off the design from all angles. 

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OK, so this could be big. Mysmartprice has apparently spotted a Chromecast with Google TV device running on Android 12 on Geekbench. 

Given that the existing 2020 model of the device still runs on Android TV OS 10, this listing likely means one of two things — either Google is testing the current version so it can get an upgrade to Android 12 later this year, or there's a new Chromecast with Google TV model coming soon.

Both seem plausible, but we heard rumors in January that a new Chromecast with Google TV could be coming later this year, so for now let's say that the latter option seems more likely. 

That said, owners of the existing model would presumably hope it's the former, as Android 12 support could bring a host of new features including 4K UI support and refresh rate switching. Hopefully we'll find out soon either way.

Android 13 logo on a smartphone

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Android 13 will likely make a big splash at today's keynote. But two of the more interesting tidbits we've seen in the first beta are the addition of Bluetooth LE audio and the possibility of Google's answer to Apple's Spatial Audio.

Combined with the support for MIDI 2.0 peripherals, Android 13 might be a major update for audio enthusiasts. We'll have to see what Google talks up today.

Google Nest Hub (2nd Gen) review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Back in March, 9to5Google reported that Google was working on a new Nest Hub smart display. The site claims that the new Nest Hub will feature a detachable tablet. The working theory is that it will operate as a way to interact with Google Assistant visually, but also as a media consumption device.

Details are pretty scarce, but we might hear more about it today.

An alleged render of the Google Pixel Watch's face

(Image credit: 91Mobiles/Evan Blass)

Bear in mind that even if we just get a Pixel Watch teaser during the Google I/O keynote, there may be more than meets the eye to Google's smartwatch plans. Specifically, there could be as many as three Pixel Watch models in the works.

About two weeks ago, filings with the Bluetooth Special Interest group (SIG) revealed that there were three potential Pixel Watches. That could mean three versions of the same watch, only in different sizes or with different cellular bands for different regions. Or, more intriguingly, it could mean that Google is designing different models with different purposes — a fitness-focused watch versus a lifestyle-focused watch, for example.

It's an interesting question, and one we may not learn the answer to, even if Google does confirm that there's a Pixel Watch in the works.

Google I/O 2022 keynote and developer keynote

(Image credit: google)

There's a lot of focus on the opening Google I/O keynote at 1 p.m. ET today — and rightly so, since that's where the biggest news will be. But it's not the only keynote Google has scheduled for today.

Once the main keynote wraps up (we'd assume sometime between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET), Google hosts a developer keynote, presumably streaming on the I/O website. Traditionally, this keynote centers around the developer-focused announcements from the opening session, but in greater detail.

And then after that? More keynotes. Here's a partial list of the ones featured on the Google I/O agenda.

  • What's new in Android
  • The cloud built for developers
  • What's new in Firebase
  • What's new in Flutter
  • AI and machine learning for developers
  • What's new for the web platform
  • What's new in AR
  • What's new in Google Play
  • What's new in Chrome OS
  • What's new in Google Home
  • What's new in Google Pay

Google I/O 2022 IO pinball game

(Image credit: Google)

If we were attending Google I/O in person like we did in the pre-Covid days, one of the pre-keynote highlights would be when Google broadcast games on the big screens hanging over the keynote stage. Just because I/O 2022 is largely virtual this year, we don't need to give up that element of fun — behold, the wonders of IO Pinball.

Yes, it's a game from Google built using Flutter, Google's open-source framework for multiplatform development. The game itself not only uses the mascot for Flutter, but also mascots from Firebase, Chrome and Android. You can use your keyboard controls to wile away the remaining hours before the I/O keynote, though honestly, I hope someone whips up a playable version of Karate Kat in the interim.

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Some of the first pre-keynote pics are rolling in from Google I/O, and this one comes from Dieter Bohn, formerly of The Verge and now part of the Platform & Ecosystems team at Google. It's a reminder that the keynote will be held at the Shoreline Amphitheater for the first time since 2019 with a limited audience in attendance.

Laptop computer displaying logo of Google Chrome, a cross-platform web browser developed by Google.

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

We're still roughly 90 minutes from Google I/O keynote time, but there's already some Google-related news out today. Google says it's working with Webex to bring a native web app version of the video conferencing app to Chrome OS. That should mean an easier time joining Webex sessions from your Chromebook in the future.

My colleague Tony Polanco has all the details on this Google/Webex partnership.

Google Pixel 6a rumored render

(Image credit: 91Mobiles/OnLeaks)

Heading into the keynote, let's quickly recap the biggest Pixel 6a rumors that are swirling out there, in the event that we get to see the new budget phone today.

Tensor processor: Like the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, the Pixel 6a is likely to run on a Tensor chipset, that features a dedicated machine learning core. That could enable some very unique AI and photo features on the Pixel 6a.

New design: In addition to picking up the Pixel 6's silicon, the Pixel 6a is also likely to adapt its look, with the horizontal camera bar running across the back of the phone.

Photo features: The Pixel 6a is unlikely to add or subtract lenses — the main camera and ultrawide angle shooter will remain — so the biggest changes will be the computational photography features Google adds. We'd expect the new phone to support Magic Eraser, for example.

A bigger battery: Rumors predict a 4,800 mAh power pack for the Pixel 6a, which would be a slight upgrade over the Pixel 5a.

Apart from the Tensor news, those wouldn't be major overhauls. That gives us some hope Google can hold the line on the $449 it charged for the Pixel 5a, which would make the 6a competitively priced to both the Galaxy A53 and iPhone SE (2022).

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We can neither confirm nor deny that Google-branded sneakers will be announced today.

Fitbit Inspire 2 review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Google bought Fitbit last year, and it's a pretty good rule of thumb that you don't spend $2.1 billion on a fitness tracker maker without incorporating that company's know-how into your own products. So it's likely no surprise that Fitbit could figure into any Pixel Watch that Google announces. 

As recently as last month, a Pixel Watch render included the Fitbit logo alongside the usual time, data and other complications. That's fueling speculation that Fitbit features could be incorporated into Wear OS.

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All weekend long, the Android Twitter account has been running a poll on what update people are most excited to see at Google I/O. The options: security updates, messaging updates, cross-device updates, new partnerships. Our vote would be "new hardware," but nobody asked us.

For the record, cross-device updates leads the poll as we get down to the half-hour mark before the I/O keynote.

 

An unofficial render of the Google Pixel 7 Pro from the front and back, from a diagonally upward angle

(Image credit: Shadow_Leaks)

Is it too early to start talking Pixel 7? Yes, in the sense that Google's next flagship phone isn't going to be ready until the fall. But no, in that any Android 13 or Google Assistant talk during Google I/O might reveal more about the features coming to future phones.

If you'd like to whet your appetite for Pixel 7 news while waiting for Sundar Pichai to take the Google I/O stage, you can gaze upon these leaked renders that claim to show off Pixel 7 cases. Those are some mighty odd camera cutouts, if you ask us.

A musician performs at Google IO 2022

(Image credit: Google)

The Google I/O keynote feed is now live on keynote, and if you ever wanted to hear an electronica version of Zombie from The Cranberries, this is the pre-show concert for you.

Well, pack it up, everyone. Leaker Evan Blass just got the jump on Google I/O with a tweet listing the Pixel 6a specs.

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Some of it's what we expected — there's that Tensor chip for the Pixel 6a that's been heavily rumored. Some of the specs will disappoint people, as the refresh rate of Google's budget phone appears to be stuck at 60Hz and the battery isn't as big as earlier rumors had suggested.

Edited: I initially jumped the gun and thought that Google was promising five years of software updates. Alas, a closer read suggests that it's only five year of security updates. While that's nice, it still raises questions as to whether Google can match the four years of software updates you get with the Galaxy A53 (and Samsung flagship phones).

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Oh, and there's a Pixel 6a render from Evan Blass, too, if you prefer that sort of thing. The new phone looks a lot like the Pixel 6, which we were expecting. Now all that awaits is pricing and availability, which I bet we hear about during the keynote.

Google IO 2022 countdown

(Image credit: Google)

We've reached the countdown clock and preshow hype video portion of the show on the Google I/O live feed if you're wondering.

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Sundar Pichai has checked in.

And we are underway from Mountain View, California (via the YouTube app on the Apple TV in my living room). Opening video is recapping Google's various problem-solving tools with email, cloud documents, photos and maps.

The start of Google IO 2022

(Image credit: Google)

"After two years of starting meetings with my mic muted, I thought I'd check," says Sundar Pichai, performing an on-stage mic check.

Google Pixel 6a metal dummy

(Image credit: Fathom Braceles / xleaks7)

Our Pixel 6a hub has been updated with the leaked specs if you want some light reading during Sundar Pichai's opening recap of Google's recent efforts in working with the government of Ukraine and directing people to Covid vaccinations. 

Sundar Pichai introduces Google IO 2022

(Image credit: Google)

First announcement: Google is adding 24 new languages to Google Translate. That total includes some of the indigenous languages of the Americas.

Google Maps Immersive View reveal at IO 2022

(Image credit: Google)

Google Maps is next. After recapping how Google Maps has gotten more accurate in Africa, India and Indonesia with better building data, Sundar Pichai previews immersive view for Maps It's a 3D render that allows you to pan around cities to see the sights, traffic patterns and weather. You can even get interior views of nearby restaurants created by images. 

Immersive view is rolling out to Google Maps for select cities later this year.

Youtube auto translated captions at Google IO 2022

(Image credit: Google)

Here's a YouTube improvement that builds upon the auto-generated chapters that Google added last year. Google's improving the process so that 80 million videos will have chapters for easier scanning. Auto-translation of captions in 16 languages is coming, too.

Auto Summary in GDocs at Google IO 2022

(Image credit: Google)

Google Docs is getting automatic summaries. Using natural language processing, the feature parses documents and pulls out the major points. The Auto Summary feature is also coming to Google Chat so you can get the key highlights of a group chat (helpful if you talk to people who tend to ramble). Pichai also says they're working to bring summaries to Google Meet as well.

AI-based video improvements at Google IO 2022

(Image credit: Google)

Project Starline update: This is the next-generation video chat initiative Google previewed last year to make video sessions feel more like you're there in person. This year, Google is promising studio quality lighting for its Google Meet product and it's going to bring the natural skin tone progress it's made with computation photography to video chats, too.

Google's Multisearch near me at Google IO 2022

(Image credit: Google)

We've moved on to improvements with Google Search. Following up on last month's introduction of multisearch — you can take a photo and ask a question at the same time — Google plans to add a Multisearch Near Me improvement. This will let you take a photo, ask a question and restrict the searches to location. Ideally, this will help you find available products at local businesses or find particular dishes that you crave at nearby restaurants.

Multisearch Near Me arrives in English later this year. It will be available in more languages over time.