Last year, as many companies grappled to remain alive and carry out their in-person developer events, two main choices arose for them. One of them was to go virtual and hold the mega events online, the method which was adopted by tech biggies Microsoft and Apple. The other choice, that was opted for by the likes of Google among others, was to fully scrap their developer events.

For Google, this meant letting go of I/O 2020, which was slated to be held at California’s Shoreline Amphitheater in May last year. Back then, the company had expressed disappointment at the cancellation, saying, “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.”

Nevertheless, the event is back this year, albeit in a completely virtual avatar. The dates are still set in May, between the 18th and the 22nd, with Google sending out puzzle invites as is customary for the conference. Taking from other virtual events that have been organised in the recent past, Google too, has decided to keep the I/O conference free and open for all to attend. This was revealed by graphical posters designed by the company (in which the word “Live” sort of looks like “Olive”, leaving many people scratching their heads).

The I/O 2021 event is set to have a feature focussed on company and product news, labelled as Company and Developer Keynotes, and will also have Technical Sessions, to inform attendees about product announcements, and also provide information on how to use the new features.

Instructor-led Workshops will feature Q&A rounds, and will require attendees to get themselves registered. “An opportunity to ask Google product experts questions,” will be provided in the form of Ask Me Anything sessions. Another feature will be “casual, open, facilitated forums hosted by Google that enable attendees to connect with each other”, known as Meetups. Other attractions will be Codelabs and Learning Pathways, to help users adopt new technologies, and Interactive Sandboxes, available in I/O Adventure, allowing developers to get a hands-on experience with Google’s new products. Registrations are open for many of these events.

The decision to hold a virtual I/O adds Google to the list of companies that are holding their conferences online. These include Apple, which will be hosting its WWDC21 online for the second consecutive year from June 7th to 11th. Susan Prescott, Developer Relations VP at Apple Inc., said, “We are working to make WWDC21 our biggest and best yet, and are excited to offer Apple developers new tools to support them as they create apps that change the way we live, work, and play.” Also in the list is Microsoft, who announced earlier that it too, will be holding its annual developer conference, Build 2021, virtually for the second year straight. The event will be organised for three days, from May 25 to 27. Experts believe that the firm will be promoting its new products, Windows10X and Windows 21H2, at the same.