Now that you’re done lusting over jet black iPhones, it’s time to turn your attention toward Google. You know, the guys who make Android and Chrome.
And what a bonanza the company reportedly has in store for Oct. 4.
Traditionally, Google uses its I/O developer conference in the spring to talk developer-y things like frameworks, announce new versions of Android or skydive in to show off new moonshots like Google Glass.
Then, in the fall, the company unveils new Nexus phones and sometimes new Nexus tablets, as well as Chromebooks either under its Pixel brand or from its hardware partners.
At I/O this year, Google did announce a good mix of new hardware and software. We got Android N, which ended up being called Nougat. Two new apps — Duo, a video chat app, and Allo, a new messaging app, were introduced. Daydream, the company’s mobile initiative, made a splash.
Project Ara, the company’s modular phone seemingly inched closer to a consumer release until it was killed off months later. Levi’s Jacquard jacket that uses gesture sensors to control your phone made its debut. And, of course, Google announced Home, its Amazon Echo competitor and Google Assistant.
It was a lot to take in.
And come next week, Google is expected to drop even more goodies — products and changes that could potentially change Android and Chrome forever.
Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s senior vice president of Android, Chrome OS and Google Play, tweeted out a cryptic teaser for what’s to come on Oct. 4:
We announced the 1st version of Android 8 years ago today. I have a feeling 8 years from now we’ll be talking about Oct 4, 2016.
— Hiroshi Lockheimer (@lockheimer) September 24, 2016
It definitely sounds like it’ll be a day to remember. If not, we’ll make him eat his Nougat.
Let’s start with new phones. For years, Google’s pushed the Nexus brand as its vision of what Android phones should aspire to be. Nexus are a lot like iPhones; they’re the purest expression of Android with hardware and stock Android (no bloatware and no UI “skins”). And more often than not, they’re pretty damn affordable, like the Nexus 5X and 6P.
Google is going to kill the Nexus brand and scuttle it under the Pixel umbrella.
The goal with Nexus was to sell unlocked phones directly to consumers, thereby bypassing all the carrier restrictions and software bloat they want to dump on them. The world — specifically, the U.S. — wasn’t ready for the full shock factor of how much a premium phone really cost — hint: It’s not $199 for a premium phone — because consumers were still accustomed to carriers subsidizing the cost through contracts.
However, with contracts all but gone and replaced with monthly installment payments, the burden of paying the full price for a phone is now lower.
Nexus has been a good brand, but it may have run its course. Word has it Google is going to kill the Nexus brand and scuttle it under the Pixel umbrella, which already comprises the Pixel 2 Chromebook and Pixel C tablet, according to Android Central.
The name makes even more sense when you consider Chromebooks are getting Android apps this fall. Instead of managing the Nexus and Pixel brands, Google would only have one brand of unified products.
Here’s what the so-called HTC-made Pixel and Pixel XL allegedly look like, according to leaked images sent to Android Police:
The smaller Pixel will reportedly have a 5.2-inch, 1080p resolution screen and the 5.5-inch Pixel XL, a QuadHD screen. Both will reportedly come with 12-megapixel rear cameras with f/1.8 apertures and 8-megapixel selfie cameras. Inside, they’ll likely come with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 chip and 4GB of RAM and storage in 32, 64 and 128GB (there will be no memory card for expansion).
And of course, you’ve got a USB-C port and a fingerprint sensor sensor on the back.
Those looking for Nexus pricing may be in for a shock. The Pixel phone could start at $649, which would be $300 more than what the Nexus 5X starts at now.
The new phones will also reportedly come with new onscreen navigation buttons that animate more when they are pressed or Google Now on Tap (which will supposedly be renamed to Screen Search) is invoked.
Google published the teaser video below showing an outline of the new phone set to Redbone’s “Come And Get Your Love” with the description: “Something new to love”.
Android Wear got updated to version 2.0 at Google I/O. Other than that, it’s been pretty quiet from existing Android Wear smartwatch makers like Motorola and Huawei, who said they’re not releasing new models this year.
Google, however, may go it alone with two new smartwatches, although it’s unclear if they’ll be ready to be shown on Oct. 4. One watch could have built-in LTE and GPS like the Samsung Gear S3 (which, doesn’t run Android Wear, but Tizen).
The Nexus 7 was a beloved mini tablet that last saw an update in 2013 before being discontinued last year. Asus made the first and second-gen models.
Google has reportedly tapped Huawei to build a 7-inch tablet that’ll be released by the end of the year according to phone leaker Evan Blass:
Google’s Huawei-built 7-inch tablet, with 4GB RAM, on track for release before the end of the year.
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) September 5, 2016
We already know Google is positioning its Home as a direct competitor to Amazon’s Echo. The smaller and customizable smart home hub device will use voice controls powered by Google Assistant to control connected smart home devices and leverage Google search for powerful querying.
But how much will the thing cost? Rumor has it Google will sell it for $130, which would be $50 less than the $180 Echo. Although, Amazon just announced the super cheap $50 second-gen Echo Dot, which is available for pre-order and will launch soon.
Google Wi-Fi and Chromecast Ultra
Google dipped its toes into the router market with the OnHub last year and it’s reportedly planning to release another one called “Google Wi-Fi” according to Android Police and Droid Life. The $130 router is said to contain some OnHub smart features and work like the Eero and Luma; users will be able to buy more extenders to blanket areas that get weak Wi-Fi in the home.
Additionally, a Chromecast Ultra could be introduced at $70. It’s said to be a Chromecast that supports 4K and HDR.
Android + Chrome OS = Andromeda?!?
Google I/O came and went without any merging. Just the aforementioned Android apps landing on Chrome OS.
Android Police’s sources dredged up the report with intel from its own sources. The new OS codenamed “Andromeda” will reportedly bring Chrome features to Android, as opposed to the Android features to Chrome OS.
Pixel 3 laptop
Which brings us to Andromeda-related hardware.
Android Police believes Google could introduce a new Pixel 3 laptop codenamed “Bison” to show off Andromeda. The laptop may sport an ultra-thin 0.39-inch thick design with a 12.3-inch screen, either an Intel m3 or Core i5 processor, 32GB or 128GB of storage and 8GB or 16GB of RAM. Battery life could be up to 10 hours.
The laptop may also have a two USB-C ports, a fingerprint sensor, stereo speakers, headphone jack, stylus support, backlit keyboard and a trackpad that simulates presses like the 12-inch MacBook’s Force touch-equipped glass trackpad.
The hardware may start at $799 and launch in Q3 2017, which is a ways off. So it’s entirely possible Google may not show off the new laptop at all if it’s not ready.