What to expect at Google I/O 2019 developer conference: Mid-range Pixel phones and more

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai speaks during the annual Game Developers Conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, on March 19, 2019.
Google chief executive Sundar Pichai speaks during the annual Game Developers Conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, on March 19, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Google will be holding its three-day annual I/O developer conference at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California, starting on Tuesday (May 7, US Pacific Time).

Android developers can look forward to getting their hands on the latest developer tools, talking to Google experts and learning more about the search giant's upcoming products. But what about the rest of us?

We will know more when Google chief executive Sundar Pichai takes the stage at Shoreline Amphitheater on Wednesday, 1am, Singapore time.

For now, here's what we can expect at Google I/O 2019.

Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL

It is probably the worst-kept secret of the smartphone world right now - there are almost daily leaks of Google's much-rumoured mid-range smartphones. Google has even teased the products.

The mid-range Pixel 3a series is believed to come in two versions - the 5.6-inch Pixel 3a and the 6-inch Pixel 3a XL. The Pixel 3a model will come with a slower processor, plastic body, no wireless charging and less water-resistance than its flagship cousin, the Pixel 3.

But the Pixel 3a model is expected to feature the same industry-leading camera that the Pixel 3 uses. Most importantly, the new Google smartphones is expected to be more affordable than the flaghip model which starts from $1,249.

Android Q

The I/O developer conference will almost certainly delve into the next-generation Android mobile operating system - Android Q, following up from last year's Android P (Pie).

In fact, the second preview of Android Q is already available for Google Pixel smartphone owners who signed up for the beta program.

As per tradition, the new mobile OS will likely be named after a dessert (quiche, perhaps?). It will also get more improvements.

For sure, the Android Q will have more support for the upcoming industry fad - foldable smartphones, specifically, how apps will respond when the screen becomes bigger as the phone unfolds.

Android Q will also sport a new Bubbles feature. This works like a notification, but you can reply to a bubble notification without launching the app. It can be used for notes and calls as well.

Other new improvements include a dark mode, screen recording and deep press or pressure sensitive touch gestures. More features of Android Q will be revealed at the I/O conference.

In addition, the new Android Q will be focused on your digital well-being, privacy and security.


Google Stadia

During the Games Developer Conference in San Francisco in March, Google announced Stadia - a cloud gaming service. It has been dubbed the Netflix of the gaming world.

Stadia is supposedly able to stream games in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second with high dynamic range support. Gamers will access Stadia using Google's Chrome Web browser.

While the service is said to be compatible with USB controllers, Google will release its own dedicated Stadia controller that will have a direct Wi-Fi link to date centres that will be used for streaming the games.

Other than that, information about Google Stadia has been limited. There are no confirmed released dates, though Google has said it is planning to release the gaming service this year in the United States and Britain.

Also, there has been no mention about the price of Stadia's monthly subscription fees. We might find out more about this potentially game-changing game streaming service during Google I/O 2019.

Other Google Stuff

Google products such as Google Maps, Google Assistant, Google Lens and Google Photos, will probably get some updates and improvements this year.

For instance, Google Maps has been letting some users test its Augmented Reality (AR) navigation mode. This AR navigation feature overlays directions and other information over the real world, so you can get your bearings right and get to your destination with more certainty.