Google’s I/O 2023 event is around 24 hours away now, and plenty of people are making predictions for what the tech behemoth might announce. We're not going to do that. Instead, we're going to run you through the things that we at What Hi-Fi? would like Google to announce.
Seeing as our interests lie in TV, home cinema and hi-fi, that’s what we’ve focused on, so you won’t see any entries dedicated to updates to the Android operating system or anything like that. We’ll leave that to the hardcore phone nerds.
Of course, that means our wishlist is probably further away from what actually gets announced – I/O is a developer conference after all. Still, we can dream, can’t we? And even if these things aren’t announced at I/O 2023, perhaps they will appear at a later date.
So, with all of that in mind, here’s what we want (but probably won’t get) from I/O 2023.
A new Chromecast Audio
We want this so badly that Editor-in-Chief Al Stevenson has already written a whole piece about it. There’s no point in rehashing his arguments entirely here (go and read his piece instead) but, in summary, adding streaming to an existing hi-fi system is still off-puttingly expensive and complicated for a lot of people, whereas the original Chromecast Audio was supremely cheap, tiny and simple. A new version could add some new features (USB would be nice) and give a new lease of life to lots of old but still excellent, traditional hi-fi systems.
A Chromecast to rival the Apple TV 4K
Another dream device that we feel so passionately about that it’s also been the subject of a dedicated feature (this time by streaming geek Lewis Empson), is a new Chromecast video streamer to go up against the Apple TV 4K. Up to this point, the Chromecast range has been focused on affordability, and that’s laudable, but we feel that Google should also have an option for those who are looking for a more cinematic performance and are prepared to pay for it.
News on Project Caviar – Google’s attempt to dethrone Dolby Vision and Atmos
Thanks to a report last year by Protocol, we know that Google has been working on rivals to Dolby’s HDR and 3D sound formats for a while now, but nothing has yet been said publicly about what is internally referred to as ‘Project Caviar’.
You might groan at the prospect of more format wars, but Google’s aim is apparently to deliver its new HDR pictures and 3D sound via existing formats, including HDR10+ in the case of the former. What’s more, while manufacturers have to pay Dolby in order to license Dolby Vision and Atmos, these new alternatives will be royalty-free, suggesting that they might appear on cheaper devices that wouldn’t be able to feature Dolby Vision or Atmos for cost reasons. All of this sounds like gain and not pain, but there’s a lot we still don’t know about Project Caviar – which is why we want Google to tell us more at I/O 2023.
Over-ear Pixel headphones
It’s pretty weird that Google has been producing its wireless ‘Buds’ since 2017 but still hasn’t launched a pair of proper headphones, don’t you think? We do, and we think it’s high time that changed.
It’s true that the wireless headphones market is a crowded one but if Google attacked it with a pair as technically clever as the AirPods Max but a fair chunk cheaper, it would surely be on to a winner. Assuming they also sounded good, of course. The original Pixel Buds were a bit ropey in that regard, but the Pixel Buds A-Series proved that Google is certainly capable of producing good audio products.
Improvements to YouTube Music
Sure, YouTube Music is popular, but is it actually any good? Not if you value audio quality, it isn’t. That’s largely because its tracks are still delivered in a maximum 256kbps, while services such as Tidal and Apple Music are offering lossless and even hi-res audio.
It feels as though it would be an easy win if Google added at least lossless format support (though Spotify’s travails in this area suggest that ‘easy’ might be the wrong word), and 3D audio (there’s Project Caviar again) would be the icing on the cake. Suddenly, YouTube Music would become a ‘serious’ streaming service for the more discerning listener.
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