Here’s what we want Google to show us at I/O 2017.
Google I/O 2017 is just a few days away and we’re excited. If you’ve ever been to I/O you know that it’s three days where the future of Android, Chrome and just about everything Google does gets talked about and shown off. While it’s primarily a developer conference, seeing that future and getting a hands-on demo of it has everyone looking forward to using it every day.
We went around the table to talk about the thing(s) we want to see most from Google this year. Think of this as our wish list for Google Claus just in case we’re in the “nice” column.
I want a better way to share VR experiences locally.
I want Google to explain its messaging solution. That explanation can be massive feature additions to Allo, it can be a way to import Hangouts to Allo, or it can be a firm public declaration that Hangouts is getting Allo features. Something. ANYTHING that helps Google’s long-time users return to a messaging plan that makes sense.
I’m also looking forward to seeing what comes next for Daydream. I’d like to see Google explore the social aspect of VR, either with Hangouts/Allo plugin for Daydream or a better way to share VR experiences locally. The important thing here is the social layer, and I think Google can have some real fun with this.
I want some clarity on Google’s laptop/tablet/convertible strategy. We’ve been theorizing around Andromeda and Fuchsia for the past few months — developers need to be part of that conversation, and I/O 2017 is as good a place as any to kick things off. Android, as we know it on tablets probably, isn’t going away, but Google needs to lay the foundations for whatever’s next, whether it’s a collision between Android and Chrome OS, or some other platform that’s an evolution of both.
I want some clarity on Google’s tablet/laptop/convertible strategy.
I’m also looking forward to putting some meat on the bones of Android O. We’ll hopefully find out a little more about what the next major release will mean for end users — sure, I/O is a developer conference, but it’s seen consumer-relevant announcements in the past.
And finally, a bit of a wildcard — remember that crazy old rumor about some adaptation of the Android One program coming to the U.S.? If that’s real, I’d love to see how it’s going to work as part of this year’s keynote.
I’m looking forward to seeing what Google lays out for Android O in terms of more specific features and direction for this release. The early Developer Preview is obviously not intended to be feature-complete, and Google I/O is a great place to start getting a feel for what the next version of Android will really be when it’s released. High on my list is seeing what it can do with tablets — there are a few different rumors swirling, and I want Google to make sense of it all.
Show me those Android O features!
More selfishly, I want to hear something that shows Google cares about Project Fi still. The service is still a tiny focus compared to Google’s other big businesses, but it’s one that feels particularly ignored considering we all pay monthly for it. We’re still using Hangouts for SMS, call forwarding is broken since the Google Voice app updated and we haven’t heard anything new in terms of extra features. It feels like Fi is in a holding pattern, and it’s not at a particularly great place to do so.
Tell me something good about Project Fi. Tell me you have SMS support built into the Fi app. Tell me you are going to officially support Android Wear devices. Tell me anything, even if you have to lie to me.
Why I should keep using Project Fi?
And if you are going to just lie to me, go on and tell me you’re making a Pixel Tablet that runs Chrome OS and has a SIM card slot. One that works on Project Fi.
Android is in good shape. They can make small refinements, as will the people making the phones, but there isn’t a real need for any big changes (even if we want them). But Google does a lot of other things, and some of those (cough Project Fi) could use some special I/O lovin’.
Show some love to Canada, Google!
My favorite reveal from last year’s I/O was the Google Home, so I’m hoping that Google announces an official release date for us Canadians along with some more features and functionality for Google Assistant. I didn’t realize how much I’ve been relying on Google Assistant on the Pixel until I recently switched to a different phone. It’s quickly become a feature something I use frequently throughout the day, so I’m hoping Google has been able to iron out some of the kinks.
Speaking of Canadian availability, man would I be happy if Google announced it was going to start offering Project Fi service up here, too. Show some love to Canada, Google!
I hope for the same thing every year at Google I/O: a dark theme for Google Play Music. But in all seriousness, if YouTube can get a dark theme, as can Google Play Movies, then Google Play Music can too. Oh, and I want the voice controls Google Play Music has on Google Home (fast forward 90 seconds) to migrate to Google Assistant on phones and Android Auto. Crazy, right?
Dark. Themes. Yes?
Turning to things that might actually happen, I want to hear new developments on the Chromebook front, be it Andromeda, be it Google Play finally rolling out to the rest of us with legacy Chromebooks, or the debut of a new Google-made Chromebook that will be beautiful beyond all reason. I also want to see Google announce some sort of initiative to try and get Android manufacturers to roll out monthly updates in a timely manner. It matters, and our choices for buying phones that get timely updates shouldn’t be Blackberry and a couple of flagships.
This is my fifth consecutive year attending Google I/O and I’ve grown an affinity to calling it Google Disneyland by virtue of the fact that it’s now held at an outdoor venue. It also feels like the new digs are a nod to what it must be like to develop with Google: fun, a little chaotic at times, and incredibly forward-facing.
Making new friends at Google Disneyland is great!
This year, in particular, I’m excited to see what’s next for Android and Google Assistant, but I’m also looking forward to reconnecting with the Android community in one common space. The energy at I/O is so incredibly infectious; there are nascent and experienced developers alike making connections, sharing stories, and nurturing one another in a space that encourages it. It’s also fun to make friends while you’re waiting in line for a session and catch on to how some developers are using their apps to make the most out of what’s available to tinker with on Android.
Let’s go back to what I/O is all about: Developers.
Every year, Google I/O promises improvements for developers that will bring their apps to the next level. But the Play Store is still full of terrible apps, along with thousands of great apps that no one will be able to find. This year, I’d like Google to focus once again on why people came to Google I/O years ago: to build amazing Android apps that can actually make money, in a marketplace that showcases the best and brightest curated by real people and not just algorithms.
I’d also like Google to expand upon its plan for Assistant, which is quickly growing into one of Google’s most important properties. We’ve seen it expand to all Android phones running Marshmallow and above, along with Allo and Google Home, but I’d like Google to address its poor discoverability — did you know the Galaxy S8 has Assistant built in?
OK, Google; What’s next for Allo?
This is my second year of actually keeping a close eye on what is going on at Google I/O, and what I’m really interested to see is what they’ve got planned next for Daydream. It’s already incredibly capable, but I’d love to see more social aspects for this headset, where my friends and I can enjoy things together — even when geographically we’re thousands of miles apart.
While VR is where most of my attention is going to be focused at, I’m also hoping to see what is next for Google Assistant and Allo. Additionally, I’m curious to see what new developments Google is going to surprise me with this year and whether I had any clue they were coming.
We know everyone out there has a thing or two they want google to show us at Google I/O 2017. Sound off in the comments and let us know what’s on your list!