It’s only spring, but in a digital commerce and payments sense, it’s also the early version of Christmas. Google’s latest I/O conference is scheduled to run from Tuesday to Thursday this week (May 7 through May 9), offering a solid preview of what’s to come. It follows Facebook’s own F8 developer conference, which took place in late April.
Everyone is offering their previews about what to expect from the Google event. Not everything Google does has a direct impact on digital payments and commerce, of course – but pretty much everything has at least an indirect impact, either now or down the road. That likely applies to one of the most highly anticipated bits of news that could come out of the Google gathering this week.
According to one preview report, “Google will take a baby step toward offering a real smartphone lineup by launching something other than a premium smartphone: a mid-range Pixel is coming, and supposedly there will be two devices, called the ‘Pixel 3a’ and ‘Pixel 3a XL,’ with identical designs.”
Google Android also will certainly receive some prime attention in the coming days at the Google event. That likely will involve the use of Android in the growing ecosystem for connected vehicles (itself a vital and potentially lucrative stepping stone toward autonomous vehicles, an area where Google parent Alphabet is working hard). According to another I/O preview report, “Android Auto can be found in several cars, but typically, it’s hidden beneath a software layer installed by the car maker.” But at this week’s conference, Android Auto could get much more attention. “Big things are coming for Android Auto,” which could include the deployment of a “stock” Android Auto offering, the report noted.
That same report talked up the prospect of Google doing more with Android TV and demonstrating that at this week’s conference – indeed, that sense is reinforced by recent leaks regarding “a potential new Android TV device. With a growing number of TVs featuring Android TV built-in, not to mention Apple giving its competing platform a big boost recently, it feels like Google really needs to give more attention and support to Android TV.”
That’s not all in regards to Android: During I/O, Google is expected to announce updates to the Android Q operating system, changes that could focus on better consumer privacy, among other areas, at least going by the informed speculation on Monday afternoon (May 6).
It’s also reasonable to expect – as informed observers are – more information and developments about Stadia. The recently launched Google cloud gaming service is among the newest entries in an industry that is having in increasing impact on digital payment and commerce around the world. Just consider a few data points: According to one survey, in-game spending is higher among older gamers in the U.S., with those aged 35 and over shelling out $50 on average, compared to $40 for those aged 18 to 34. But younger gamers tend to spend more money on full game downloads: $63 compared to $48 for gamers 35 and older.
Among the most important outstanding questions about Stadia? According to one preview analysis, “how much will it cost (or, more importantly, how much would you be willing to pay), how will customers acquire new games and what kind of games will work best on Google’s game streaming service?”
At last year’s Google I/O event, the name of the game was artificial intelligence (AI). Google announced that its research division will heretofore be known as Google AI, which will highlight how Google’s research and development efforts are increasingly centered on computer vision, natural language processing and neural networks.
Google also touted news about the Amazon Echo Show, the company’s smart display devices. Smart displays, of course, are powered by YouTube and Google Assistant. Google Maps is also getting an AI upgrade, whether one is accessing the service via Android or iOS. Instead of merely offering directions, Maps will also improve its recommendations for places of local interest.
The coming days promise more big Google news that we will still be talking about a year from now.