<p><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/601b238aee136f00183aa314-2190/Alphabet & Google CEO Sundar Pichai.jpg" border="0" alt="Alphabet & Google CEO Sundar Pichai" data-mce-source="Justin Sullivan/Getty Images" data-mce-caption="Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during Google I/O 2016"></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>Google will return to its annual I/O developer conference this year after skipping last year's event due to the pandemic. It will be free and held in an online-only format, according to an invite sent out early on Wednesday.</p><p>The conference will be held May 18-20, according to the invite, which was distributed as a puzzle and cracked by <a href="https://9to5google.com/2021/04/07/google-i-o-2021-announced/">9to5Google</a>.</p><p>Google skipped 2020's I/O conference due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event was scheduled to run May 12-14, but in early March the company announced it would move to an online-only format. It later <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/google-cancels-io-conference-coronavirus-concerns-2020-3">canceled</a> it entirely.</p><p>Calls for product groups to nominate products and speakers for 2021's event went out in January, according to one current employee. Another said that Google had been pre-recording videos for the event in recent weeks. Both asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak to the press.</p><p>I/O is Google's biggest annual event and is typically held at the Shoreline Amphitheatre, near the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California. Its 2019 conference drew more than 7,000 attendees. A Google spokesperson declined to comment on this year's conference.</p><p>Google uses I/O to showcase advances in its software and AI, including upcoming changes to the Android smartphone operating system. </p><p>Although Google typically holds a separate event for hardware later in the year, it has launched new devices at I/O in the past, including new additions to its Pixel smartphone line.</p><p><a href="https://9to5google.com/2021/04/06/google-email-inadvertently-leaks-green-pixel-buds-a/">Some recent reports</a> suggest the company has some imminent announcements for its smartphone linesmaybe I/O is where we'll hear about them.</p><p><em>Are you a current or former Google employee with a tip' You can contact this reporter securely using the encrypted messaging apps Signal and Telegram (+1-628-228-1836) or via encrypted email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Reach out using a nonwork device.</em></p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/google-io-conference-back-for-2021-remote-date-time-watch-2021-4#comments">Join the conversation about this story »</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/what-its-like-travel-during-coronavirus-outbreak-planes-airports-virus-2020-3">Here's what it's like to travel during the coronavirus outbreak</a></p> Click here to read full news..