Google I/O 2021 preview: Google resurrects Wear OS and Android tablets?

Sadly the Shoreline Amphitheatre will be empty this year. Google I/O is online-only.

Enlarge / Sadly the Shoreline Amphitheatre will be empty this year. Google I/O is online-only. (credit: picture alliance / Getty Images)

Google I/O 2021 is actually happening this year. But due to a certain worldwide pandemic, it will be all online instead of outside in the sun of Mountain View. Google skipped the 2020 edition entirely, but the company is finally ready to deliver its first ever virtual Google I/O. For us onlookers, that means we’re officially entering unknown territory.

Google I/O starts Tuesday, May 18 at 1 pm EDT, when Google/Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai will take the stage and presumably show off what Google has been working on all year. We’ve been prepping for the show ourselves, and the shift to an all-virtual event hasn’t lessened the amount of tea leaves to read. We’re expecting to see quite a few things over the next week.

Well, first, let’s talk about what we’re probably not going to see: the Pixel 5a. At Google I/O 2019, we saw the launch of the Pixel 3a in May of that year. But with I/O 2020 canceled, the Pixel 4a didn’t hit the market until much later in the following year, on August 20, 2020. Normally we would call the launch timeframe for the 5a a toss up between mirroring the 3a or 4a launch dates, but Google has already set us straight. Back in April, the company said the Pixel 5a would be “announced in line with when last year’s a-series phone was introduced.” So that’s August, not May, and not at Google I/O.

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