The venue for this year's annual developer's conference, Shoreline Amphitheater, is not only bigger than past event spaces, it's also located smack-dab in the middle of the Silicon Valley, wedged right in between NASA Ames and Google's own headquarters in Mountain View. But it's not just the venue that's changed. At this year's I/O, Google will present itself as a branch of its parent company, Alphabet, rather than its own all-encompassing entity. And while there may be plenty of sessions devoted to Android development across phones, the living room, and auto, they'll sit alongside other workshops covering Google's peripheral projects. Indeed, the focus on virtual reality looks to be intense.
Today at the Frankfurt motor show, one of the biggest and most prestigious motor shows in the world, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, spoke before German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Now what is Facebook and most importantly, Sheryl Sandberg doing at an automotive industry event? The obvious answer that comes to mind when one relates Facebook and the car industry is the billions of advertising dollars the industry spends on marketing and advertising. However, that does not seem to be Facebook's game plan, as highlighted by Sheryl and shown at their pavilion. Facebook seems to have a strategy of leveraging its capabilities in social marketing, AR & VR and interestingly, who would have thought of it, leveraging its advanced AI and deep learning capabilities to support the development of autonomous vehicles.
We'll find out this week what the tech giant is planning and how virtual and augmented reality factor into its goal to remain the world's most valuable company, as well as updates on the world's most popular operating system, Android, and possibly details on a return to China. On Wednesday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai will take the stage at the Shoreline Amphitheatre -- a 15-minute walk from his office at Google's Mountain View, California, headquarters -- and deliver an update on the company's current and coming projects. Nominally a conference for developers, Google I/O is really a way of keeping everyone updated on what it is working on, to help give products that are underperforming a promotional push and to remain in the public eye about other projects that may have slipped from the public memory due to being in development so long. Last year, it was all about a big update to Android; the previous year Google pushed Android TV and Android Wear; in 2013 it was the launch of Google Music; and 2012 saw a team of skydivers drop onto the Moscone Center stage in San Francisco during the keynote, shooting their exploits on Google Glass and live streaming it to an awestruck audience. This year, while we will hear about Android, Chrome OS, driverless cars and Project Ara, the big focus will be on the tech world's hot topic: virtual reality.
Glasses and tech do not make a successful marriage, says USA TODAY's Jefferson Graham. This is a simple truth for 2017 and beyond: we don't want to wear glasses to enjoy our tech. That became loud and clear this week courtesy of Snap, Inc., the parent company of communication app Snapchat. The gadget graveyard now includes 3-D TVs, Google Glass and a case could be made for virtual reality headsets, as well. Count how many people you know who use a headset or watch 360-degree footage online.