In one of the “busier” Google I/O events in recent memory, Google unveiled a number of products and updates that you can expect in 2022.
Hardware was a big part of that, as the company displayed or teased several new devices slated to come out at different times this year. Chief among them, at least for the short term, is probably the Pixel 6a, a mid-range alternative to Google’s high-end Pixel phones, as well as the Pixel Buds Pro, Google’s most advanced wireless earbuds to date.
There’s more where those came from, and here’s a quick rundown of what to expect:
Google Pixel 6a
This is already shaping up to be an intriguing phone for 2022 because of its balance. On the outside, it retains the overall look Google introduced with the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. On the inside, it also runs some of the same components. This is very much in line with how Google handles its mid-range devices, and we have some clues to go on.
The Pixel 6a will run on the exact same Google Tensor processor and Titan M2 chip that are in the other Pixel 6 phones. That means the features relying on their power will work on this phone, including improved Night Sight and Real Tone for the camera, and Magic Eraser for Google Photos when you want to remove something from an image.
You won’t get a telephoto lens for the rear camera array, but it looks like the wide and ultra-wide ones will use the same image sensors as the other Pixel 6 phones. It will have 128GB of storage and 6GB or RAM. It will get five years of security updates and “Pixel Drops,” which are separate updates introducing new features. As for Android updates, it will be three years’ worth.
Look for the Pixel 6a to drop this summer, with a launch set for July 28.
Google Pixel Buds Pro
These are going to be the most advanced pair of Pixel Buds, just by the features available. They will be the first to offer active noise cancellation (ANC), and will do it with a unique twist. Google is including something it calls “Silent Seal,” utilizing built-in sensors to measure pressure in the ear canal to maximize comfort. Volume EQ will adjust highs, mids, and lows to go with whatever volume you choose to listen at.
Google promises clearer phone calls, even in windy conditions outside, while Transparency mode will allow you to hear ambient noise around you when you want. Durability holds a modest IPX4 rating, so will be decent for runs or workouts, but these won’t be as rugged as other sporty earbuds tend to be.
Multipoint connections mean you can pair with two devices at once. The key is that the Pixel Buds Pro will also automatically switch between them when necessary. This will work even more seamlessly between Google or Pixel devices, but we’ll have to wait and see how much better that truly is.
Apart from that, the Buds Pro will include hands-free access to Google Assistant, where just saying “Hey Google,” will bring up the voice assistant. Plus, Google Translate returns with 40 languages, letting you get real-time translations through the earbuds.
Google announced four colours for the Pixel Buds Pro—coral, lemongrass, fog and charcoal—though the case for each will be white. It also rates battery life at up to seven hours with ANC on (11 hours without), though actual testing will probably see that number fluctuate.
Look for the Pixel Buds Pro to drop around the same time as the Pixel 6a. You can always check out how they compare to the Pixel Buds A-Series.
Peeking at the Pixel Watch
There were plenty of rumours about a possible Google smartwatch, and we now have a glimpse into what it will look like. Google was mum on a lot of detail, but what is clear is that it will have “deep integration” with Fitbit and its tracking features. It will also integrate with Google’s suite of products and services. That means Google Assistant and Google Home, as well as Google Pay and possibly some form of Chromecast control. Turn-by-turn directions by way of Google Maps, and Gmail integration should also figure into it.
Google did confirm the Pixel Watch will only work with Android and Pixel devices. No iPhone users, apparently. It will run on the new Wear OS 3, where we should get a good idea of what the operating system can do. Otherwise, details are sparse, and we’ll have to wait until closer to the launch date this fall.
Peeking at the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro
Google only showed the back of these two upcoming flagships, where the cameras will have a slick new metal frame around them. The phones will also have a “next-gen” Tensor chip inside and run on Android 13, but that’s about it as far as any detail goes. No news on what the cameras will be able to do, or even what the screen will look like. More to come closer to launch in the fall, Google says.
Other announcements at Google I/O
Google Translate will get an extra 24 languages, including Indigenous Languages of the Americas, like Quechua, Guarani and Aymara, as well as distinct ones used in various parts around the world. These new additions bring the full total in Google Translate to 133 languages.
Android 13 will include a new “wallet” capable of holding digital versions of your IDs, as well as loyaly and payment cards, tickets, airline information and vaccine passports. It will integrate with Google Pay for contactless payments, and I suspect through the Pixel Watch as well, but we’ll have to wait and see when driver’s licenses and other identification might be part of that.
Google did tease a new tablet it’s working on for a 2023 release, but that’s about all we know right now. It’s also working on prototype augmented reality glasses that can translate languages (among other things) in real time by displaying text wearers can read. The company hasn’t said when it might release these glasses.
Android Auto will get a slight refresh with its interface by prioritizing split screen arrangements to accommodate the wider variety of displays in newer cars today. Android Automotive—the system that’s built into select vehicles separate from Android Auto—will soon include additional apps, including streaming from YouTube and Tubi TV. You can only stream when parked, mind you.
More to come
Google will almost certainly reveal more about upcoming devices for 2022 and plans beyond in the months to come. Look for more on the blog, including reviews of the latest products when they come to Best Buy. Check out the latest Google devices here.