Google I/O kicks off on Tuesday, May 7th, and while the annual developer conference goes until May 9th, most of the big announcements will happen during the 90-minute keynote starting at 1PM ET (10AM PT).
We expect to hear a lot more about Android Q during the keynote, building on what’s already in the beta with an in-depth look at new features. Google doesn’t usually share an exact release date for its major Android updates, but we should leave I/O with a good sense of what Android Q will bring when it’s released later in 2019.
Google may also share big figures and milestones for Google Assistant, followed by new features coming to the virtual assistant. Maybe we’ll even see a few updates for Duplex, its potentially time-saving, controversial feature that uses AI to place phone calls and make reservations on your behalf.
I/O is typically focused on software, but it seems likely that it will make several hardware announcements this year. Based on the high frequency of rumors for Google’s Pixel 3A midrange phone, we may see it onstage during the keynote. The I/O keynote might also bring an unveiling of the rumored Nest Hub Max.
You’ll find all of the latest news and all of the other big stories below, so stay tuned for updates.
May 15, 2019
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the buildup to the launch of Google and OnePlus’ latest devices, as the nature of their pre-launch leaks was so comprehensive that we were able to do the analysis of what each phone means in advance. The language has since been amended to reflect the official status of both companies’ new products.Read Article >
Google’s release of the Pixel 3A and 3A XL this month, accompanied by OnePlus’ split of its single flagship into a basic and a Pro model, marks a significant moment for the phone industry. Starting from divergent positions, the two companies are ending up at the same destination, with one premium variant and a more distilled and simplified sub-flagship. And that happens to be where practically every smartphone vendor finds themselves today.
May 10, 2019
The Pixel 3A and Pixel 3 are coming as officially supported and sold phones on T-Mobile.Read Article >
The Pixel 3A and Pixel 3 support the next-generation texting protocol called the Universal Profile for RCS (or Rich Communication Services, or Chat).
May 9, 2019
Google Fuchsia remains shrouded in mystery, but the company is slowly beginning to open up about the next-generation operating system, what its purpose is, and what devices it might power. At Google’s I/O developer conference this past week, Android and Chrome chief Hiroshi Lockheimer offered some rare insight into Fuchsia, albeit at a very high level, in front of public audiences.Read Article >
What we do know about Fuchsia is that it’s an open source project, similar to AOSP, but could run all manner of devices, from smart home gadgets to laptops to phones. It’s also known to be built on an all-new, Google-built kernel called “zircon,” formerly known as “magenta,” and not the Linux kernel that forms the foundation of Android and Chrome OS.
May 9, 2019
Google’s I/O developer conference took place this week in Mountain View, California, and The Vergecast crew not only attended, but we also recorded a show in front of a live audience!Read Article >
Hosts Nilay Patel and Dieter Bohn ran through all of the announcements and then brought on Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s head of Android and Chrome, and Stephanie Cuthbertson, the company’s director of Android, to talk about the newest Pixel devices, the new Nest line, mobile messaging, and, of course, the future of Android.
May 9, 2019
Myriah Q. hasn’t stopped moving since the moment I entered the bar. She’s got patrons seated on the sidewalk and the backyard areas, and she is pacing between opposite ends of the venue to keep up with the happy hour rush. Occasionally, she hops behind the counter to mix drinks, restart the music playlist, or organize menus. Suddenly, the phone rings — for the third time. Myriah looks at the caller ID, ignores the call, and resumes her dance.Read Article >
“I don’t have time for spam calls,” she explains. “I’m busy enough as is.”
May 9, 2019
This week, Google announced that it would be integrating the Nest brand into its broader line of Home products, essentially making Nest the brand for every smart home gadget it sells. As part of this integration, Google’s Home speaker and smart display products will now carry Nest branding and have Nest features.Read Article >
But in addition to the rebranding, Google announced that it will be discontinuing the Works with Nest program at the end of August, dismantling a set of controls that allow other device manufacturers and service providers to integrate with the Nest ecosystem of devices. Instead, Google will offer a new Works with Google Assistant program, one that will force companies to support the Google Assistant if they want their customers to be able to integrate with Nest products at all. If you want any other product to play nice with your Nest ones, you’ll need to have a Google account.
May 8, 2019
The native Android Auto saga has a long and winding road, but we’re finally approaching the finish line. Google’s custom-built software for automobiles, now called Android Automotive OS and not to be confused with standard Android Auto mirrored from your smartphone, was first announced a couple of years back as a kind of compromise with an auto industry that realized it could never build software as good as Silicon Valley.Read Article >
It’s taken various forms, as it’s moved from retrofitted Volvo infotainment systems to new, custom screens. And behind closed doors, it’s gone through countless iterations that have never seen the public eye, as Google has done a careful dance letting automakers have some control of the design while it works closely alongside component suppliers to make sure the in-car touchscreen systems are up to snuff.
May 8, 2019
Google has officially released the Pixel 3A, its latest smartphone that serves as a cheaper, midrange entry point into the company’s Pixel lineup. For more on the phone, check out Dieter’s review, but we’re here to talk about the Pixel 3A’s name. Or more specifically: what does the “A” stand for?Read Article >
Most of the Google Pixel 3A’s moniker makes sense on the surface: “Google,” who, you know, sells the phone. “Pixel,” to indicate that it is of the same stock as its pricier siblings, with similar standards and brand ideologies — particularly around the camera quality — to match. “3,” since that’s the current generation of Pixel phone Google is on, and the 3A is at heart a watered-down Pixel 3.
May 8, 2019
Google has shown off a redesigned Play Store for Android TV at I/O 2019 that makes it much easier to download apps and sign up for new subscription services. Variety reports that the new interface will let publishers combine the installation of a new app with the signup and login processes, and 9to5Google adds that the new interface will support using PINs to log in, so you don’t have to type your full password as often using your TV remote.Read Article >
As well as showing off the new features and interface, the demonstration also received a cameo from an Amazon Prime Video app, which will finally see a widespread release on Android TV after Google and Amazon recently settled their long-running feud.
May 8, 2019
Google wants to be inside your home. It wants to sell you cameras, alarm systems, and voice assistants to make your life — and maybe its targeted advertising business — that much easier. But there’s a problem. People don’t necessarily trust big tech companies or their camera-equipped smart displays right now.Read Article >
And while Google may not have had a Cambridge Analytica-level scandal on its hands, a couple recent incidents with its Nest division could have given buyers pause: a string of digital break-ins where Nest cameras let strangers deliver fake nuclear bomb threats and spy on babies over the internet (not exaggerating), and the revelation that the Nest Secure alarm system had a secret microphone that buyers never knew about.
Google just took the wraps off its latest smartphone: the Pixel 3A, a cheaper version of its flagship Pixel phone that starts at just $400, or roughly half of what the more powerful Pixel 3 costs.Read Article >
If you want to know whether the Pixel 3A is good, I’d recommend reading my colleague Dieter Bohn’s review (spoiler: it’s very good, especially for the price). But the question isn’t whether the Pixel 3A is good — it’s whether the regular Pixel 3 (and Pixel 3 XL) are good enough to justify spending twice as much.
May 7, 2019
Samsung may have just had its first ever, high-profile foldable phone flame out in embarrassing fashion, but that’s not stopping other companies from looking into the technology. Ahead of its I/O developer conference, Google says it’s also looking into foldable tech and has been prototyping foldable displays for quite some time, according to CNET.Read Article >
“We’re definitely prototyping the technology. We’ve been doing it for a long time,” Mario Queiroz, Google’s Pixel development lead, told CNET last week in an interview. According to Querioz, however, “I don’t think there’s a clear use case yet.”
Google has announced that 10.4 percent of the total Android install is running Android Pie, the latest version of the mobile OS that the company officially released last year on August 6th, 2018 (via Android Police). Today’s announcement marks the first time in the nine months since Google released Pie to the public that the company has given hard stats on what percent of devices have it installed.Read Article >
Compared to last year, Google’s numbers are way up: as of May 2018, Android Oreo was only installed on 5.7 percent of Android devices, meaning that Pie (based on our limited dataset, at least) is being picked up twice as fast as the last version.
May 7, 2019
Today, at the I/O developer conference, Google announced a new way to limit how much advertisers can track you online. As first reported by The Wall Street Journal, the company is releasing a new set of controls that will allow users to see all of the cookies currently stored by the browser and give them the option of blocking any trackers they don’t like. It’s unclear how the new controls will work, and the pending interface was not made available to journalists, but the company described it as a new step in how Chrome protects users’ privacy.Read Article >
Google is also pushing back against non-cookie tracking techniques like browser fingerprinting, reducing the amount of passive information Chrome provides to sites and taking new steps to fight active fingerprinting techniques.
May 7, 2019
Google typically hops between each I/O year to focus on either hardware or software news, and this year brought on more devices than we got from 2018. Now that the keynote’s wrapped, we can confirm a few rumors from the past few months: the Pixel 3A is real, as is the leaked Nest Hub Max smart display. There is also a slew of announcements on what’s to come from Android Q when it officially comes to consumers later this year and some updates coming soon to the Google Assistant.Read Article >
Here are some of the biggest highlights.
It’s time for Google to turn up the volume — metaphorically — on selling hardware. That was my takeaway from a conversation with Rick Osterloh, the head of Google’s newly named “Devices and Services” division. “We just passed our third-year anniversary as an organization,” he says, but “last year was a really pivotal year.”Read Article >
It was. In 2018, Google acquired HTC engineers, released the Pixel 3, and finally integrated Nest. This year, Google is beginning to cash in on those decisions. The new Pixel 3A is the first phone to fully utilize the “Taiwan team,” as Google refers to those former HTC employees. And Google has finally made the move to merge its own Home-focused product division with Nest. “Pixel means Google’s first-party phone products,” Osterloh says, “and Nest will mean Google’s first-party home products.”
Starting today, Google is done holding smart home appliance maker Nest at arm’s length. It was folded into the Google Home division last year, but now, the entire group has a new name: Google Nest. The new name is more than just a rebranding effort. It also includes a new product philosophy and — critically — a new set of data privacy policies for Nest customers.Read Article >
One way to look at the change is to say that Nest has fully become an extension of Google and its ambitions in the smart home after years of bouncing around within the Alphabet / Google org chart nightmare. Another is to say that Nest as we once knew it is now well and truly gone. It’s all just Google now.
Google is releasing its augmented reality walking directions today — but only for Pixel phones. At today’s I/O conference, Google announced that it was launching a preview of AR walking directions in Google Maps, something it’s only offered limited trials of so far. The feature offers real-time navigation through your phone’s camera: you can hold it up to see arrows and directions overlaid on your surroundings. It’s available for the Pixel 3A as well as older Pixel phones.Read Article >
We first learned about this feature at last year’s I/O, and we’ve seen limited demos of its capabilities. According to some press coverage, it’s not meant to be your primary navigation method. But it could get you oriented in the right direction if you’re getting off a bus or train, for instance.
May 7, 2019
A time-lapse camera mode is coming soon to all Pixel phones, Google announced today at its I/O developer conference. In case you’ve never recorded a time lapse, each is a series of stills stitched into a clip that appears to play in fast motion. They’re a fun way to bottle up a scene when neither a single photo nor a video can do it justice. The feature is available now on the Google Pixel, Pixel 2, and Pixel 3 via an update for the camera app. It will also be available on the new Google Pixel 3A and Pixel 3A XL.Read Article >
To find the new time lapse option, open the camera app, then swipe over to “More.” You’ll find it in this grid of features, among others like Night Sight, Lens, and Slow Motion.
May 7, 2019
Voice interfaces are more common than ever, but they’re not equally accessible. For example, if you have a speech disorder cause by a neurological impairment like ALS or multiple sclerosis, then using Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa will be off-limits to you. In today’s tech environment, that means missing out on a lot.Read Article >
That’s why Google is launching a new initiative to make speech technology more accessible to those with disabilities. It’s called Project Euphonia, and it incorporates a wide array of research directions, alongside collaborations with nonprofits and volunteers.
The new Google Pixel 3A phone won’t support Daydream — Android’s built-in, but increasingly forgotten, virtual reality platform. Google confirmed the news before I/O, stating that “resolution and framerate” issues made the phone incompatible with Daydream. Google’s Daydream View headset will continue to work with the older Pixel 3 and other supported Android phones.Read Article >
Google’s Cardboard headset gave VR a huge boost in the mid-‘10s, when it offered smartphone owners a chance to run very simple VR experiences. Daydream was effectively an upgrade meant for more sophisticated mobile VR. Google launched a dedicated Daydream app with access to a special section of the Google Play Store, as well as the Daydream View, an attractive and relatively cheap headset similar to the Samsung Gear VR.
May 7, 2019
Google announced its newest, most affordable phones today — the Pixel 3A and 3A XL — and for the first time with Pixel phones, more carriers than just Verizon will sell them in stores. Google confirmed today that T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, and US Cellular will sell the phones, along with the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. AT&T will also support the 3A and 3A XL, which means that people can insert a SIM and use the phone, but the carrier won’t place it on store shelves. Smaller carriers, like Verizon’s all-digital Visible carrier, will also sell and support the Pixel 3A, 3A XL, 3, and 3 XL. The device goes on sale tomorrow in stores, and Google’s own website has it available today. Verizon’s orders will go live at 3PM today.Read Article >
Getting carriers to sell its devices is a big step for Google as it looks to conquer more of the smartphone market. Their support means more promotion, better support if a device breaks, and visibility in the places where many people ultimately buy their phones.
I am going to break an unwritten rule of tech reviews and tell you the ending right at the top: if you want to buy a new smartphone that costs between $300 and $500, you should buy a Pixel 3A or Pixel 3A XL. It is the best phone in that price range, and it’s actually competitive with more expensive phones in one very important way: the Pixel 3A has a great camera.Read Article >
For the past few years, buying a new smartphone meant following a nigh-unbreakable rule: if you wanted a good camera, you needed to spend at least 600 bucks. That, or you needed to find an older iPhone or take a shot on something used or refurbished. On the flip side, less expensive Android phones have become remarkably good recently, but they still followed the rule because their cameras are almost universally mediocre.
May 7, 2019
At its annual Google I/O developer conference today, Google announced a new set of privacy commitments for its in-home Nest security cameras, which include disabling the feature that lets users turn recording indicator lights on and off. The change will affect cameras like the Nest Cam IQ, and the newly announced Nest Hub Max, a larger, Nest-branded version of the Google Home Hub smart display.Read Article >
Previously, Nest cameras had an option for users to turn off the light that indicates the camera is recording. Disabling that feature seems like a no-brainer now, but it was available for various situations, such as for parents who wanted security cameras in their children’s rooms to keep an eye on nannies and babysitters. “It’s not just our commitment to the owner that we’re making,” Rishi Chandra, VP of product at Nest told The Verge. “We’re making commitment to anyone who walks in the house.”
May 7, 2019
Announced at Google I/O today and available to buy immediately, the new Google Pixel 3A and Pixel 3A XL are more budget-friendly variants of the flagship Pixel 3 family. They still feature the superb Pixel camera that has been Google’s signature advantage, though they step down the spec to use plastic rather than glass for the rear, along with a more basic Snapdragon 670 processor, a limit of 64GB of maximum storage, and the omission of wireless charging and certified water resistance. The Pixel 3As do bring back the headphone jack, though!Read Article >
The larger Pixel 3A has a 6-inch Full HD+ OLED display, while the smaller Pixel 3A measures in at 5.6 inches with the same resolution and display tech. Stereo speakers and Bluetooth 5.0 feature on the Pixel 3A spec sheet, along with 4GB of RAM and fast wired charging. The XL model gets a 3,700mAh battery, while the smaller 3A has a 3,000mAh battery.