Google I/O returns on May 18 as an online-only event, will be free for all to attend


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Something to look forward to: Like many other tech companies, Google put a temporary hold on its annual I/O developer conferences last year, after the Covid-19 pandemic raced across the globe. Instead of repeating the move this year, Google will be taking I/O to the digital realm, hosting its first online-only developer conference.

The event will begin on May 18, and run for a full two days, ending on May 20. Though it's geared more toward developers than average consumers, everyone is free to attend digitally if they so choose.

However, if you want to get the most out of the event, Google recommends you "Register" for it using your Google account. This will grant you access to AMA sessions, "personalized content" (we're unsure what that means), workshops, and the ability to participate in live Q&A periods.

The full I/O schedule is coming later this month, but we know Google will include a broad mix of content this year. There will be the usual developer and consumer-oriented keynotes, filled to the brim with fresh product announcements, as well as more technical, hands-on sub-events for devs.

These will include Interactive Sandboxes (a hands-on way for developers to try new Google features or products) and Technical Sessions, which aim to teach developers how to adopt the company's newest technology for their use cases.

If you're wondering what to expect from this year's I/O reveals, we don't have any clear answers for you. We might start seeing more leaks and teases closer to mid-May but for now, things are pretty hazy. If we look to the past for inspiration, though, I/O events almost always emphasize software announcements.

As such, a full reveal for Android 12 is almost a guarantee. It's also possible that we could see some new hardware reveals, but we wouldn't recommend getting your hopes up -- those only occasionally happen during I/O presentations (see Google Home and the Pixel 3a in 2016 and 2019).

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