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Google I/O 2022 this week: Pixel Watch, Pixel 6a, Pixel Buds Pro, Android 13, and everything else to expect

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There are rumours about the Pixel Watch, the company’s first wearable, and a midrange counterpart to the Pixel 6 smartphone.

Google I/O, the Alphabet-owned tech giant’s annual developer conference, takes place this week. The keynote is keenly watched by a broader audience, with Google announcing several hardware and software announcements for the next 12 months.

This year, a number of hardware announcements are likely during the keynote. There are rumours about the Pixel Watch, the company’s first wearable, and a midrange counterpart to the Pixel 6 smartphone. It is also possible to see a new pair of true wireless earbuds.

Software announcements could focus on primary operating systems such as Android 13. Google could also announce new features for platforms such as Android TV or Wear OS.

PIXEL WATCH

Rumours of a Google smartwatch have been around too long, but 2022 might be the year it finally happens. Specs, design, and a US Patent and Trademark Office filing have already been leaked, revealing the Pixel Watch name. An apparent prototype was also found abandoned in a restaurant.

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MIDRANGE PIXEL 6A

Google has followed up each flagship Pixel smartphone with a more affordable version for the past three years. But rumours suggest that the Pixel 6A might be a little different from previous A-series devices. While the Pixel 4A and 5A paired similar camera features to their flagship counterparts with less powerful processors, reports suggest that the Pixel 6A could flip this. 9to5Google reported last year that the new phone could feature the same Tensor processor as the premium counterpart but a downgraded main camera sensor.

Google typically launches its midrange smartphones around August. But a recent US Federal Communications Commission filing suggests the launch could be around the corner.

PRO WIRELESS EARBUDS

Aa recent leak suggested that Google was preparing to release the Pixel Buds Pro, a new set of true wireless earbuds. While not much is known about the features, the use of “Pro” typically means support active noise-cancellation support — a first from Google.

Google only sells the Pixel Buds A-Series, originally announced as an affordable version of the second-generation Pixel Buds. The Pixel Buds have since been discontinued and Google could add a Pro-branded entry.

DETAILS ABOUT ANDROID 13

Android 13, the next version of Google’s mobile operating system, has already had its beta release — offering glimpses of the company’s plans for the update. At Google I/O, there will be full-blown display of the overall vision.

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It seems Android 13 will continue a lot of the work from Android 12. Customisable themes is likely to expand to cover more UI elements, and Google continues to restrict some aspects of the operating system apps have default access to.

UPDATES FOR OTHER PLATFORMS

The Wear OS for smartwatches is certain to receive some onstage attention if Google announces the Pixel Watch. The presentation comes a year after Google announced the merging of its platform with Samsung’s Tizen, resulting in the Galaxy Watch 4.

The Android TV and Google TV software are also scheduled for new features, according to one of its product managers. The company has long been interested in support for home fitness workouts along with more smart home controls and videoconferencing services.

GOOGLE SOFTWARE AND SERVICE UPDATES

Last year, the tech announced a locked folder feature for Google Photos, updates to augmented reality view of Google Maps, and a new “smart canvas” for the office productivity software designed for interconnectivity among various services.

Given the huge breadth of Google’s software offerings, it’s difficult to make specific predictions about which of them will get attention on stage this year. But I’d guess that Google Workspace is likely to feature prominently. “Smart canvas” has already resulted in some slick new features for Google Docs, and I suspect that this is just the start of Google’s plans to overhaul its office software for remote working.

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