In just a few days, Google will kick off its annual I/O conference and the year of Android will finally begin in earnest. The company has been busy, but until Sundar Pichai takes the stage at the Shoreline Amphitheater, we won't know for sure what Google has in store for the rest of 2017. Last year we met a new Google Assistant, Daydream, Home, Allo, Duo, and, of course, Android N, and we can't wait to see what Google rolls out this year. Google usually keeps a pretty tight lid on its biggest announcements, but it seems like it's doubled-down on security leaks this year. The rumor mill has been oddly quiet with the show mere days away from starting, and we're on pins and needles waiting to see what Google has to show us.
Android is in a very different place than it was when 2016 began. While the last 12 months were filled with much of the usual pomp and circumstance surrounding the release of new handsets, connected gadgets, and OS refreshes, the state of Android has never been more promising or less predictable. Google stepped out from behind the curtain and into the spotlight. Headsets took over smartwatches as the trend of the moment. And Samsung's phablet woes opened the door for smaller players to make big gains.
After jumping head first into the hardware game last year with the Pixel phones and Home smart speaker, Google seriously picked up the pace in 2017. Not only were there two awesome new Pixel phones, but also smaller and larger Google Home devices, as well as a pair of Pixel-branded earbuds. And through it all, Google's AI-powered Assistant got smarter and smarter.
I'm willing to bet you didn't say "an Android Wear watch." What was supposed to be the year of wearables turned into repeated delays and mounting frustrations, as Android Wear 2.0 missed its launch date and manufacturers bailed on anticipated releases. To put it bluntly, Android Wear is in sad shape. But there is hope for salvation. In February, Android Wear 2.0 will finally drop, bringing a host of improvements such as standalone apps, easier typing, and on-watch purchasing to a reasonably long list of compatible models.
Google is just getting started when it comes to selling its own hardware. Another rumor from the usually accurate Evan Blass points to a pair of Google-built watches that will come early next year. Google's two smartwatches will be released with Android Wear 2.0 in Q1 2017 [image courtesy of: https://t.co/so8uJyEZCy] We've heard this before, but we have a lot more context now after attending the "Made by Google" hardware event, where the company showed off the Pixel, DayDream View headset, Chromecast Ultra, Google WiFi, and Google Home. The tenor of the gathering and the new shift by Google told us this wasn't a one-off event.