OPINION: Google is set to take the stage at its annual Google I/O event next week, and while it’s usually focused on new software for Android smartphones and the occasional smart home update, this year’s event is gearing up to be one of the most exciting in years.
Why? Because Google is rumoured to launch a flurry of new hardware at its annual Google I/O event next week. This includes the long-awaited full reveal of Android 14, as well as a new budget Pixel smartphone, a Pixel-branded tablet, and the long-awaited Google Pixel Fold, which Google confirmed on Twitter just days ago.
The Pixel Fold has been a bit of an enigma over the past few years; rumours have pointed towards Google working on a foldable phone for at least three years, with release initially rumoured for 2021 before being pushed back to 2022 and, finally, 2023. It seems the wait is finally over with Google’s not-so-subtle teaser posted on Twitter on Thursday evening.
Though just a short animation of the Fold opening and revealing a large inner display, it confirms that it’s a) a book-style foldable like the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and b) it’ll look like the flagship Pixel 7. It also seems to show off a gapless fold, something that Samsung’s foldable isn’t capable of.
Considering Samsung has had a bit of a monopoly on the foldable market – particularly the book-style foldable design – over the past few years, I can’t wait for some genuine competition from Google.
Google could also be the company to fix some of the biggest problems with big foldables in general, namely in terms of software and app support. The company has already confirmed that Android 14 will make it easier for developers to implement support for the boxy aspect ratio, and if any company can drum up support from developers, it’s the company that literally develops the OS the phones run.
I/O isn’t just about the Pixel Fold though; the long-rumoured Pixel Tablet is said to make its debut following several official teasers from Google over the past year. Officially, we know that it’s a big-screen tablet with an almost ceramic-esque finish and that it’ll be compatible with a magnetic speaker dock that essentially turns it into a smart display when not in active use.
Again, as with foldables, Google could be the company to get developers to start developing more tablet-specific apps. This is the one area where Android tablets can’t quite compete with the competition from iPads right now. But, if Google’s tablet is a popular one, it could inspire iOS-only devs to make the shift to Android. Here’s hoping, anyway.
Then there’s the prospect of the Google Pixel 7a making an appearance at the show – something that has been heavily leaked and rumoured in the weeks running up to I/O, with some leakers believing that the budget-focused phone will go on sale immediately after the announcement next week.
While we don’t know much officially, rumours suggest big updates are on the way for the budget Pixel range including, arguably most importantly, a jump from 60Hz to 90Hz. The 60Hz panel has been a long-time pain point for the Pixel A models, so while it might not be the super fast 120Hz like some rivals, it’s a step in the right direction.
Of course, there’s also the full reveal of Android 14 to look forward to. Google has already seeded early beta updates to keen Android developers but these lack the key new features set to be announced at next week’s showcase.
While it’ll be a while before the update will appear on your phone – Pixel devices are usually first around September or October – it’ll give you a good idea of what to expect from the yearly smartphone update.
So, rather than just being a software-led show, this year’s Google I/O is going to be a special one packed with exciting new hardware and a number of firsts from the company. I, for one, can’t wait for the products themselves and the effect they could have on the larger foldable and Android tablet markets. What are you most looking forward to? Let us know on Twitter.