Google’s I/O 2021 conference kicks off this week and the focus will be on Android 12, machine learning and perhaps some hardware but there are a few broad developer themes and opportunities worth tracking.
While Google’s opening keynote is likely to cover a lot of ground including AI advances, a bevy of interface changes with Android 12 and system on a chip development, rest assured that the conference is all about developers. Here are the themes to watch:
Android 12. For developers, there will be a lot of sessions on Jetpack Compose, Android new UI toolkit. Google is also likely to push more development tools to enable voice shortcuts in apps including one session on how to voicify your Android app. Other odds and ends will include machine learning tools in Android, addressing multiple screen sizes and integrating augmented reality.
Updates for Android 12 include a new app launch experience, improved web linking, rich haptic experiences, video encoding improvements, faster machine leaning and camera enhancements.
The developer monetization model and privacy. While Google Play takes a 15% revenue cut, half what it used to be, there’s an opportunity for Google to up the ante. With Apple’s iOS 14.5 launch, users have to opt into data tracking. This change has caused quite the skirmish with Facebook but may also impact how much money developers can make with advertising. According to Flurry data, the data opt-in rate for apps is low single digits–anywhere from 3% to 5%. Developers have historically favored iOS because they make more money there, Android could close the monetization gap by a) cutting the revenue cut to 5% or lower and b) finding a way to address privacy and maintain ad targeting. Google outlined data and privacy transparency practices for developers.
Chrome bloat. The Chrome OS track in the Google I/O schedule is fairly thin, but it would be wonderful to hear about some code streamlining in Chrome, the browser. In my experience, it’s clear Chrome’s code base is becoming a problem. The browser over time has become a memory hog and is seeing stability issues. Google may not address the Chrome browser issues directly but needs to.
TensorFlow and machine learning. Google’s previous I/O conferences featured a heavy dose of machine learning and 2021 won’t be any different. Expect Google to roll out a bevy of TensorFlow advances as well as how machine learning will be integrated into Android and throughout the platform. Machine learning tracks include ethics, accessibility and solving everyday problems. Android Machine Learning also has a few sessions.
Material Design advances. Android is getting more than its share of UI tweaks and the track on Google’s approach to design (Material Design) has a decent amount of sessions.