Google’s next I/O developer conference will be taking place at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, CA starting May 7th. The details were sussed out by a crafty Twitter user by the name of Till Kottmann who used a shortcut accidentally hidden in a puzzle Google tweeted out this morning to find the relevant information hidden in a snippet of JSON code.
Typically, the I/O puzzle takes a little longer to solve. This year, Google tweeted out an enigmatic, 12-line block of tweet with an accompanying URL that led to a video with equally enigmatic voiced narration of said text, put to a string of cryptic images and some pleasant ambient music. It’s not entirely clear what Google was going for here, but it’s safe to say it was likely some form of programming puzzle that most standard Twitter users would not have been able to easily decode.
#io19 is on the horizon... pic.twitter.com/Aiv0uo44nI
— Google Developers (@googledevs) January 25, 2019
Luckily for us, however, users like Kottmann were able to spot an earlier tweet from an now-deleted account called @internaltest189 that contained the dates hidden in plain text:
Yup, they figured me out, they also removed the dummy tweet. I still have a screenshot of the json pic.twitter.com/4tqt1YchTM
— Till Kottmann (@deletescape) January 25, 2019
While that certainly takes some of the fun out of Google’s neat puzzle, it’s not a huge surprise that I/O is scheduled for May 7th to May 9th. The date usually comes out around this time of the year and the conference has been typically schedule in the first couple weeks of May; last year’s I/O kicked off on May 8th.
A lot has changed for Google since last year’s conference, when the company introduced Android P in beta, overhauled Google News, and unveiled its controversial Duplex AI project, which lets an AI agent masquerading as a human make phone calls and set appointments on your behalf. The company has since vowed to be more transparent around Duplex disclosure when talking with humans who may not be aware they’re speaking to an AI agent. The product is now available to a small number of Pixel users, but there appears to be some vagueness around the disclosure process when it’s being handled in real time.
Duplex will certainly be a hot topic at this year’s I/O, as well as the standard updates to Google Lens, Maps, and News, as well as the next version of Android. Hanging over the company’s developer efforts this year, however, will be increased scrutiny around Google’s plans to work with the US military, following backlash over its involvement with a Department of Defense drone project it has pledged to distance itself from, and the continued murkiness around its plans to launch a search product for the China market.
We likely won’t hear much of anything about those topics at I/O, but they’ll certainly be driving the conversation around the company in the months leading up to the conference, which has become just as much about the company’s responsible use of sophisticated AI technology as it is about new products and services.