Google cans I/O 2020 following Californian lockdown

Google has cancelled its I/O developer conference in order to comply with strict Californian lockdown rules imposed on Thursday, having shifted the flagship event to a virtual conference earlier this month.

The tech giant’s biggest event of the year has been scrapped due to the safety concerns of attendees and employees, as well as residents, alongside a recently-introduced state-wide lockdown advising people to stay at home.

Google I/O 2020 was meant to be hosted at the firm’s HQ in Mountain View in May, with likely announcements ranging from updates on Pixel handsets to news on the flagship Android 11 OS. Any news that was due to be released at the event will be shared online.

“Out of concern for the health and safety of our developers, employees, and local communities - and in line with recent “shelter in place” orders by the local Bay Area counties - we sadly will not be holding I/O in any capacity this year,” Google said in a statement.

“Right now, the most important thing all of us can do is focus our attention on helping people with the new challenges we all face.

“Please know that we remain committed to finding other ways to share platform updates with you through our developer blogs and community forums.”

California’s ‘shelter in place’ order is the latest in a line of increasingly aggressive steps designed to stop the spread of COVID-19. The state’s seven million residents are being asked to stay at home, unless they need to make ‘essential’ journeys. It’s similar to the latest government advice issued in the UK.

Following the news, eyes will be on a string of other tech firms that have shifted their flagship conferences to virtual events throughout February and March.

Google Cloud Next, for example, was postponed indefinitely last week after initially being shifted to a virtual conference. Google does, however, plan to host this year’s flagship cloud-oriented event at some stage in the future, unlike I/O 2020.

The most high-profile cancellation was Mobile World Congress (MWC), which was also among the first to shut up shop due to fears around the now-global pandemic. Facebook F8 was similarly scrapped in late February.

Companies like Apple and Adobe, meanwhile, have simply shifted their WWDC and Adobe Summit conferences respectively to be online-only events. The same is also true for Microsoft Build.

All guests who have registered for I/O 2020 will be extended an invitation for the 2021 edition automatically.

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a writer and editor that specialises in public sector, cyber security, and cloud computing. He first joined ITPro as a staff writer in April 2018 and eventually became its Features Editor. Although a regular contributor to other tech sites in the past, these days you will find Keumars on LiveScience, where he runs its Technology section.