At Google I/O, Sundar Pichai will take heart stage amid scandals



Google CEO Sundar Pichai usually kicks off I/O with a keynote handle.

James Martin/CNET

On Tuesday, Google is inviting hundreds of builders to its hometown of Mountain View, California, for I/O, its largest occasion of the yr. The annual confab is Google’s alternative to tout its latest creations for its Android working system, Assistant software program and different common providers.

However this yr there’s much more at stake. It is an opportunity for CEO Sundar Pichai to handle the world, on his dwelling turf, amid what’s been probably the most tumultuous time within the search large’s 20-year historical past.

Since final yr’s gathering, Google’s largest points have spilled into public view. The corporate’s employees have protested towards Google’s navy contracts, its work in China and its remedy of short-term and contract employees. Pichai has additionally been dragged in entrance of Congress to defend Google towards accusations of political bias.

The occasion comes simply days after hundreds of staff staged a sit-in at a number of Google places of work to precise discontent over alleged firm retaliation for a previous protest. Two longtime staff stated administration had been unfairly concentrating on them due to their roles in organizing final yr’s historic Google walkout, which noticed greater than 20,000 of the corporate’s staff march out of their places of work. That protest was aimed toward Google’s dealing with of sexual harassment allegations directed at executives.

Google has additionally confronted criticism over YouTube’s incapability to police the content material on its sprawling platform. The video service, a Google subsidiary, has been accused of prioritizing progress over the protection of its customers. The blowback crescendoed after a shooter livestreamed himself gunning down worshippers at two New Zealand mosques final month. YouTube wasn’t in a position to include the video’s unfold on its platform, and it was uploaded tens of hundreds of instances.

On Tuesday, Pichai will take the highlight for his most high-profile handle of the yr. It is akin to Google’s State of the Union, and TV cameras and press might be available to listen to what he has to say.

Although he could nod towards a few of Google’s present controversies, he is prone to attempt to hold the deal with lighter fare: new options and merchandise. In years previous, Google has unveiled Glass, its in the end doomed sensible eyewear; Google Cardboard, a do-it-yourself headset that grew to become the launching level for the corporate’s digital actuality efforts; and the Google Assistant, its digital-helper software program akin to Amazon’s Alexa. Final yr, Google concurrently wowed and creeped out the world with the first demo of Duplex, synthetic intelligence software program that sounds jaw-droppingly human.

CNET might be available to cowl Pichai’s keynote handle and convey you reside updates from the convention. This is what we may even see at I/O.

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Our wishlist for Google I/O 2019


When and the place is it?

Google’s annual developer pageant kicks off Might 7 and runs by way of Might 9. It is being held within the search large’s yard on the Shoreline Amphitheater. The enormous live performance venue is so near Google’s world headquarters in Mountain View, California, you’ll be able to see it from CEO Sundar Pichai’s workplace.

How do I watch it?

The occasion’s primary keynote, which Pichai usually headlines, will begin at 10 a.m. on Might 7. It is normally livestreamed on YouTube and we’ll publish the hyperlink when it is dwell. We’ll even have our personal dwell protection and a crew on the bottom to convey you real-time updates.


Google holds its I/O convention on the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, CA.

James Martin/CNET

Android Q

Over the previous couple of years, Google has launched its latest taste of Android to software program builders in March. However the firm usually reserves a portion of stage time for its cell working system. This yr’s Android Q will help foldable screens, sooner app launches and privateness updates, resembling extra restrictions on location sharing.

Google Assistant

Google usually makes use of I/O to introduce new options for the Assistant. Final yr, that included new Assistant voices (together with John Legend’s), a function that requires youngsters to say “please” when bossing the Assistant round and the power to ask two questions at one time.

However what actually stole the present was Duplex, synthetic intelligence expertise that speaks like a human. It attracts out some phrases and pauses after different phrases, like regular individuals do. It says “uh” and “um” and has different verbal tics. The concept is to let the software program make calls in your behalf to arrange appointments, like restaurant reservations. From the second it was introduced, the product drew controversy over its means to deceive individuals who may not know they may very well be speaking to a robotic. Google later stated they’d construct these disclosures into the product.

This yr, it is cheap to anticipate extra updates to the Assistant as Google tries to push the service to extra individuals and units.

Augmented and digital actuality

Three years in the past, Google launched its Daydream digital actuality platform at I/O. It lets individuals flip their telephones into VR machines by placing them into particular headsets. Just lately, Google has been quiet about its Daydream and VR efforts.

However the firm has made noise round augmented actuality — overlaying digital pictures on prime of what you’d usually see in the actual world. For instance, Google launched a expertise referred to as Lens at I/O two years in the past. It is a instrument that allows you to seek for data on stuff by way of your telephone’s digicam. For instance, you possibly can see digital directional arrows in your telephone’s display screen once you’re in Google Maps’ navigation mode. Or you possibly can see evaluate details about a restaurant once you level your digicam at a retailer entrance.

It would not be a shock if Google provided extra perception into its imaginative and prescient for AR or VR.


Google Lens permits you to seek for stuff along with your telephone’s digicam.

Josh Miller/CNET

Nest Hub Max

Final month, Google appeared to by chance leak its personal product: The corporate’s retailer web site made point out of the Nest House Hub, with a “10-inch HD display screen and stereo audio system.” The machine may even reportedly have a built-in Nest Cam.

Previously few years, Google has usually reserved a lot of its {hardware} proclaims for its annual “Made by Google” occasion. (That may additionally embrace Nest, which Google absorbed final yr.) However a huge {hardware} reveal at I/O would not be out of the peculiar. The corporate unveiled the unique Google House sensible speaker on the convention three years in the past.

Pixel 3A

Rumors have swirled a couple of midrange model of Google’s flagship telephone, reportedly referred to as the Pixel 3a. In one other obvious Google on-line retailer slipup, the corporate touted a “Pixel 3a — NEW” within the telephones part of the web site, earlier than scrubbing away the point out.

To feed the hypothesis much more: Earlier this week, the Google retailer web site teased “one thing huge coming to the Pixel universe” on Might 7, the identical day because the Google I/O keynote.

Google Stadia

Final month, Google took the wraps off of Stadia, a brand new cloud-based gaming platform. The concept is to stream video video games straight from Google’s knowledge facilities, as an alternative of a console. The platform additionally has tie-ins to YouTube and can let individuals share playable snippets of video games by sending hyperlinks.

There are nonetheless a number of unknowns. We do not know but if Stadia may have a subscription mannequin or how a lot it may cost a little. We additionally do not know a lot about what sort of gaming catalog it would have. When the search large introduced Stadia on the Recreation Builders Convention in March, the corporate stated it could give extra particulars “in the summertime,” presumably on the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles. But it surely’s doable Google might tease us with extra about Stadia at I/O, too.

Initially revealed on April 22.


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