With the dust settling on an unusually ambitious I/O conference, it's worth taking stock of exactly what we just saw. Google announced huge moves in virtual reality, messaging, and personal assistants — three of the industry's most hotly contested categories. But while we know there are big things coming, we still can't say when they'll get here.
To recap, here's what we know about when everything's coming out, as specifically as possible:
- Allo: later this summer
- Duo: later this summer
- First Daydream phones: this fall
- Google-built Daydream headset: possibly never
- Home: later this year
- Android N: in public beta now, full release later this summer
- Updated Android Auto: in the next few months
- Android Wear 2.0: this fall
- Android Apps on Chrome: this fall
- Android Instant Apps: only God can say
At the risk of stating the obvious: that's a lot of products, and no ship dates.
It's hard to say exactly what that means, and there's probably a different reason for each particular project. I/O is a developer conference not a product keynote, so it's not unusual to show off a project that's still in development. As a rule, pegging a release date to a season rather than a month makes me nervous (what's "fall" anyway?), but perhaps they're more in touch with nature than I am.
Still, if a product can't get a ship date, it usually means it's not ready to ship. What we saw at I/O were demos, not products, and it's going to take a lot of sweat to close that gap.
If you were coming into I/O as a fan, you might take all that as a sign of Google's openness, its eagerness to share projects as early as possible. If you're more accustomed to Cupertino's ironclad product cycles, you might take it as a sign of a company that can't get its act together. It's all a matter of perspective.
But for anyone itching to try this stuff out, the vague timelines are disappointing — particularly for products like Home that may go through a few sold-out production runs before they're widely available. If you came away from I/O ready for an upgrade, you've got a lot of waiting ahead of you.