Google has cancelled its annual I/O developer conferece entirely as a result of Covid-19 coronavirus crisis.
That's right, the company isn't even offering a live stream alternative, as many companies have opted for when replacing their in-person conferences. However, this represents more than just an inconvenience for developers and journalists – it's making us wonder what will happen with Android 11 and the Pixel 4a series of phones and their expected release schedules.
Here's everything you need to know about I/O 2020 and what its cancellation means for the future of Google's products in the year ahead.
Google I/O 2020 Cancelled
Google had previously announced that there would be no physical event for this year's I/O conference, due to take place on May 12-14. Instead, the search giant said it would “explore other ways to evolve Google I/O to best connect with [its] developer community.”
It was assumed, then, that Google would hold the conference over a series of livestreams. Nokia and Oppo have both recently held phone launches via livestream, for example.
However, the company has seen fit to shelve the entire event.
Out of concern for the health and safety of our developers, employees, and local communities — and in line with recent “shelter in place” orders by the local Bay Area counties — we sadly will not be holding I/O in any capacity this year.
What Does This Mean for the Pixel 4a?
We were expecting Google to announce the follow-up to its excellent Pixel 3a series of phones at I/O this year.
In fact, thanks to hard-working tech leakers, we already knew a great deal about the upcoming mid-range series of phones. We even knew what they would look like.
So does this mean that the Pixel 4a will be cancelled?
At the moment, it seems unlikely. We're two months away from the planned reveal and by now, Google would be extremely close to final testing with the Pixel 4a, if not already in final production.
However, with the global slowdown in smartphone sales due to coronavirus, plus supposed production issues that other phones have had as a result of the outbreak, it doesn't seem unreasonable that Google may postpone the launch.
What about Android 11?
The developer preview of Android 11 is available for third-party app makers to get used to — so we're already well on the road to a full release.
Google's engineers should be working from home, giving them more time to perfect the upcoming OS. But, Google has seen fit to postpone updates to its Chrome web browser. The company said in a tweet:
“Due to adjusted work schedules, we’re pausing upcoming Chrome & Chrome OS releases. Our goal is to ensure they continue to be stable, secure, & reliable for anyone who depends on them. We’ll prioritize updates related to security, which will be included in Chrome 80. Stay tuned.”
Ostensibly, Google has done this to avoid issues for remote workers who rely on the software to get their jobs done (and that includes all of us here at Tech.co). Google will continue to issue security fixes, however.
Perhaps then, Google will take the same approach with Android — continued security fixes but no major overhauls until coronavirus calms down.