What to expect from Google IO 2022: Android 13, Wear OS, Pixel 6a, and more

Google IO stage
(Image credit: Future)

We're just hours away from the annual Google IO 2022, which kicks off on May 11 with a big keynote that should reveal much of the company's major hardware, software, and innovation plans for the coming year.

One big change from the last two years of all-virtual events is that this year's conference is returning, in part, to a physical location.

It's from that stage that Google CEO Sundar Pichai will walk developers and those watching the live stream through a long list of crucial product updates. Some will be deep tech and still-under-development project demonstrations (this is developer event, after all), and others will relate to the consumer technology most of us care about.

Thanks to months of leaks and some open betas from Google, we have a strong sense of what to expect from Google IO 2022. This is a quick list of what want from the two-day event.

Android 13

Android Logo

(Image credit: Google)

Google almost always shows off its next Android update at IO - this year, that's Android 13.

We know a little bit about this update - a small beta brought lots of privacy features, code pointed to the ability to toggle the brightness of the phone's flashlight (though you'll need a device with hardware that facilitates this) and Google has teased the ability to compress apps you don't use much, saving you from deleting them.

Those are cool features but they're not exactly flagship ones, so we're hoping Google has something big up its sleeve for its unluckily-numbered next update.

Wear OS

Google IO 2021

(Image credit: Google)

Google IO is typically a software-focused event, but it generally didn't talk about Wear OS, its smartwatch operating system...

... until 2021, when Wear OS 3 was unveiled, and it was the biggest shake-up to the company's smartwatch software in years. It was designed alongside Samsung, but more companies were set to use the software for their wearables too.

It's been a bit of a quieter year for Wear OS than we expected, as not as many companies adopted the new system as we (and likely Google) would have liked. But with the backing of Samsung, we don't think Google will forget about its software - hopefully, we'll see new features for it that make it more tempting for manufacturers.

Google Pixel 6a

There's an outside chance that we'll see the Google Pixel 6a - the company has previously unveiled its affordable A series of gadgets at Google IO before, though it hasn't for a few years.

This would be an inexpensive take on the Pixel 6, designed for people whose budgets don't have space for super-pricey Android phones.

If the Pixel 6a doesn't appear, we could still see other A-series devices like earbuds, as they've shown up recently at IO too.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.