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What to expect from Google I/O tonight: Android 12, Wear OS update and more

Google’s annual I/O event returns today (May 18) as an all-digital event. Here’s everything we expect to be announced at Google I/O 2021, including new Pixel Buds and updates to Android.

Google I/O is a conference for developers, meaning we’re sure to see plenty of software announcements, but we’re also hoping to get a peak at the hardware Google has in the works. 

Rumoured announcements include the full details of Android 12, a new pair of Pixel Buds and possibly even the Pixel 5a.

Google I/O is set to kick off today (May 18) and it’ll run until May 20.

The opening keynote will be kicking off tonight at 10am Pacific Time (that’s 6pm here in the UK). There’s also a pre-show that begins at 5:40pm. We’ll be bringing you all the latest news and announcements as it happens.

You can find the full schedule for I/O on Google’s event page.

While you’ll want to register (for free) to catch every piece of news at Google I/O this year, you can catch the major keynotes on Google’s YouTube channel. 

The company will be live-streaming its announcements in the video below: 

Android 12 

One of the biggest announcements expected to take place at I/O this year is Android 12.

Some recent leaks, by way of frequent Google and Apple leaker Jon Prosser, have suggested that Android 12 will be a huge visual overhaul with new design elements everywhere. You can see some of these new design choices in the video below. A lot of these design changes look like they are designed to match up with the rumoured Pixel 6.

While we already know that some updates are coming to the Android operating system in 2021 thanks to early developer previews, we expect to hear more about what’s in store from Google this week. 

So far there are signs of a one-handed mode, a gaming dashboard, a “more modern” notification design and haptic-coupled audio, all of which you can learn more about in our Android 12 guide.

Google is also expected to release a public beta this month, with the final release likely available after August. 

Wear OS updates

Google has teased that upcoming to its wearable platform, Wear OS, could be arriving at I/O.

“Come explore the latest beta for Android 12, Jetpack Compose updates, a brand new Wear version, and so much more! We’ve got new blog posts, videos, and codelabs galore,” the post within the Play Store section of the website reads, as spotted by 9to5Google

Google has also tweeted out that it will be showing off ‘what’s new on Wear OS’ during the show. You can see that tweet below.

It makes a lot of sense for Google to focus on Wear OS during the show, especially as it has been heavily rumoured for a while now that we’ll finally see a Pixel Watch arrive this year.

Pixel Buds A-Series 

The Pixel Buds A-Series – or Pixel Buds 3 – are anticipated to make an appearance at Google I/O, too. 

While the earbuds are still just rumoured, there have been enough leaks (including one by Google itself) to have us hopeful they’ll show up at I/O this year. 

According to a now-deleted tweet by Google, the Pixel Buds A-Series will feature one-tap Bluetooth pairing on Android 6.0+ devices and above thanks to a Fast Pair update. 

We also got an early look at the earbuds in April when Google accidentally sent an image of the earbuds to Nest users in an email. It appears as though the earbuds will share a similar design with their predecessor, and is expected to come in white as well as a new darker green shade. 

Pixel 5a 

There is a chance we’ll see the Pixel 5a at the event this week. 

The mid-range follow up to the Pixel 5 is expected to pack a similar dual camera setup to the Pixel 4a 5G and the Pixel 5, along with a mid-range chip from Qualcomm. The phone also featured a very familiar design in early renders shared by @OnLeaks

Unfortunately, you might not actually be able to buy the 5a, as Google has only confirmed the phone is coming to the US and Japan so far (via 9to5Google).

We’re also doubtful the 5a will make its debut at I/O considering how late the 4a launched last year, but there’s still a chance that Google will surprise us. 

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