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Google to hold its I/O developer conference virtually in May

The annual developer confab is back after it was canceled last year amid the pandemic.

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Google will hold its I/O conference virtually, instead of at its usual setting at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. 

James Martin/CNET

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said Wednesday that the search giant will hold its annual developer conference virtually this year from May 18 to 20, after the massive event was canceled last year as COVID-19 spread across the globe.

The virtual format is a departure from Google's normal setting for the show, usually held at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California, a short walk from Google's corporate headquarters. 

Google I/O, which in 2019 drew more than 7,000 attendees, is the company's most important gathering each year. Pichai's keynote speech, in which he talks about Google's current efforts and priorities, is akin to a state of the union address from the tech giant. 

In recent years, Google has made its biggest announcements at the show, including the introduction of the Google Assistant, the Google Home smart speaker and Google Glass eyewear. The company announced the smart eyewear in 2012 with an over-the-top skydiving exhibition above San Francisco.

After canceling their annual conferences last year, other tech giants have resumed programming virtually, too. Facebook said last month that it'll hold a digital version of its F8 conference in June, though CEO Mark Zuckerberg won't be speaking.