Google I/O 2016: what can we expect?

Manny Pham
May 16, 2016

Google will be hosting their annual announcement gala Google I/O, where we are expecting a host of juicy announcements. 

It’s a Google/Android fanboy’s idea of heaven. Google has been holding Google I/O since 2008 and it’s a place for software developers to get together for in-depth talks and presentations to understand Google better. For the rest of us it’s a massive news and announcement feast, with the big ‘G’ telling us how they’re going to make technology cooler and how much closer we are to a tech utopia, that floats in the sky, with android butlers at our beck and call. Below is what we’re expecting from Google I/O 2016.

Android N


Google have said they’ll be announcing every major Android software update at Google I/O. They lied and surprised us all by announcing Android N earlier in the year and made available a downloadable preview. Google will most likely kick things off with the least surprising, revealing more about Android N, which we previewed earlier this year.

What we do know from trialling the Android N preview is that Google are designing their new OS with bigger phones in mind, by including more detail on-screen when perusing over settings and notifications. Thanks to more screen real estate Android will be supporting multi-windows, a feature we already see on certain Android skins, Samsung’s Touchwiz being an example. All future Android devices will have this useful feature, regardless of brand.

What Google can do is surprise everyone by showcasing the latest version of Android N on the next generation of Nexus devices. HTC are currently rumoured to be working on the new Nexus devices, both are codenamed Marlin and Sailfish.

At the What Mobile office we’re having a little bet over the official name of Android N. Android Nutella? Android Nerds? Android Nougat? We will know by this weekend.

Driverless Cars


Since it started in 2008 Google I/O was always held in the Moscone Center, San Francisco. For Google I/O 2016 we’re seeing a new venue with the Shoreline Amphitheater being selected. A simple change in venue sparked off rumours that Google will be personally chauffeuring everyone to the far away venue, with new driverless cars.

A massive speculation that although would be all kinds of super special awesome, will most likely not happen, too many hurdles to jump over without anything substantial leaking.

Driverless cars might still make an appearance anyway with Google confirming it with the creation of the Google Self-Driving Car Project. The Shoreline Amphitheater provides more playground space for Google to allow participants to get in. Seeing as its $300 for a ticket to Google I/O, there better be rides.

Android VR

google cardboard woman

Virtual Reality is the next big thing on everyone’s mind. VR currently has a problem, and that problem is accessibility. Not everyone has a spare £689 for a HTC Vive or £1,500 for an Oculus Rift. Arguably the most accessible with the best compromise in quality would be the Samsung Gear VR, which is provided with Oculus parts and content. But even that’s restrictive as you can only use it with certain Samsung smartphones.

Google could be sorting out the convoluted world of VR with a new VR headset, compatible with all Android smartphones. We already have Google Cardboard and it provided an affordable entry into the world of VR. But now we need something better.

We can see from Google’s scheduling VR will be a big part of the show. On day two there is a session called “VR at Google” hosted by Google’s head of VR, Clay Bavor. Written in the description of the event is “what we have built, what we have learned, and where we are headed.” A clear indication the boss of VR will be revealing something substantial.

Rumours for a new VR headset has already been swirling. In the Google Developer Console there is the inclusion of ‘Android VR‘ fuelling further speculation that Google will be taking VR seriously this time, maybe with a brand new, power hungry headset, that hopefully won’t break the bank.

Project Tango


Project Tango is a little project done in conjunction with Lenovo. The new augment reality smartphone and tablet made their debut at CES and were seen at Mobile World Congress. We could now be seeing a version of Project Tango, ready for consumers at Google I/O.

Project Tango is augment reality tech, enabling devices to register surroundings. Depending on where it is the device will be able to fill you in on relevant information. Using Project Tango in a museum for instance would turn itself into your own guide with annotations or voiceovers on art pieces.

We’re expecting Google to announce a consumer ready Project Tango device at a session called “What’s New with Project Tango.” Google aren’t really hiding the purpose of the sessions stating “will explore the vision of Project Tango and how it will come to life with the launch of our first consumer phone, announced earlier this year.” It looks like we’re in for a proper show about Project Tango.

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