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Google cancels I/O 2020 developer conference due to coronavirus concerns

The company's biggest annual event was due to take place between May 12 and 14

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Following in the wake of Mobile World Congress and the Geneva International Motor Show, Google has cancelled its upcoming I/O 2020 developer conference.

The move came due to mounting concerns over the spread of new coronavirus COVID-19 in the US and abroad.

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I/O normally attracts thousands of software developers, who visit to attend presentations and workshops introducing them to Google's latest software tools and features across all of its software and hardware products.

The event usually kicks off with a keynote address which outlines Google's plans for the upcoming year, showing off new features of products like Maps, Photos, Chrome and Gmail. It also sometimes addresses the Google Assistant and Android operating system, and in recent years debuted landmark features like the life-like Duplex restaurant-booking AI.

Google said in a statement: "Due to concerns around the coronavirus (COVID-19), and in accordance with health guidance from the CDC, WHO, and other health authorities, we have decided to cancel the physical Google I/O event at Shoreline Amphitheatre."

The company said that all purchased tickets will be refunded by March 13, and if any ticket holders don't receive the refund they should email io@google.com.

Google I/O 2020 logo I/O tickets will be refunded by March 13Google

Tickets are usually offered via a draw, due to I/O being oversubscribed each year. For 2021, Google says everyone who registered for I/O 2020 will be automatically granted the option of purchasing tickets for next year's event.

It is likely that Google will follow the lead of automakers unable to attend the Geneva International Motor Show this week, and host its keynote address, presentations and workshops online. These are normally live-streamed by Google anyway, but for 2020 there will be no live audience.

The cancellation of I/O in its physical form raises questions about how the rest of the technology industry progresses through 2020. Apple is expected to host its equivalent developer event, called WWDC, sometime in June (although tickets are yet to go on sale), and the company is expected to announce a new cut-price iPhone and updated iPad Pro later this month. It now seems unlikely that these events will take place in front of a live audience, as large gatherings of people are cancelled to prevent the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19.

Facebook's F8 developer conference has also been cancelled, along with the Game Developer Conference. Other landmark events now in doubt for 2020 include the E3 video game conference in June and IFA technology show in September.

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