Drones, phones and automobiles to dominate Google I/O on 18-20 May

13 Jan 2016

One of Google's self-driving cars. Google CEO Sundar Pichai has confirmed 18-20 May at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View as the time and place for I/O.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has confirmed 18-20 May at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View as the time and place for its annual developer shindig Google I/O.

And it looks like, this year, self-driving cars and drones could steal the show.

This is the first time in years that Google has held the event outside San Francisco. Traditionally, I/O has been held at the Moscone Center, although the very first I/O took place at the Googleplex on Google’s own campus in Mountain View.

Nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley and next door to Google’s sprawling campus in Mountain View, the I/O event at Shoreline has already prompted speculation that the event could be all about self-driving cars.

There are very few public transport links in the area and the amphitheatre boasts a large car park that could show off the latest in digital driving.

Google I/O 2016 will be all about the machines

I/O is traditionally where Google reveals the latest update to its Android operating system. Last year at I/O, Google revealed Android M, which became Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

Since last year’s event, there has been significant upheaval at Google, which is now a subsidiary of a new conglomerate known as Alphabet (making alpha bets, get it?).

The restructure saw Pichai propelled from being head of Android to CEO of Google.

As well as self-driving cars and Android, the event could also be the place where Google will reveal its vision for the future of drones and, in particular, virtual reality.

Google is also moving fast on artificial intelligence (AI) and has already put AI capabilities inside core products like Gmail.

It emerged in the past day or so that Google is forming its own dedicated virtual reality division to take on Facebook’s Oculus. The division will be headed up by Clay Bavor, who was previously Google’s VP for product management on apps like Gmail, Drive and Docs.

“Exciting news: we’re only 18 weeks away from Google I/O!” Pichai announced on Google+ yesterday.

“2016 is going to be a special year for us – we held our first developer day 10 years ago at the Googleplex. To celebrate our 10th anniversary of developer gatherings, we’ll be hosting I/O in our backyard at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA from May 18th – 20th. We’ll have three full days together to dive deep into developer content, code labs, and more.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years