October 4th is going to be a huge day for Google. After years of dabbling with various hardware devices, the company — which turned 18 this week — is finally going to unify its offering. Google has made a lot of changes to its management and administration this year, including forming a parent company Alphabet Inc.
The company’s unified hardware efforts is now being led by Rick Osterloh who was previously at Motorola and was responsible for the Moto X (2013) and other great smartphones from the company. While Google has released plenty of hardware products over the years and met with relative success with a few of them, the company’s hardware efforts have always seemed half-hearted and lacking any integration with its own services and devices. It is possible that we will finally see Google unify its various hardware offerings when it announces a bunch of new devices on October 4th.
So, what is Google going to announce on October 4th? Let’s see what the rumors and leaks indicate.
Pixel, Android 7.1, and Assistant
Google is seemingly killing off its Nexus brand this year and is replacing them with Pixel. The new HTC-made Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones have leaked quite a few times over the last couple of years, and while their design might not seem impressive, their specs sure do. The 5-inch and 5.5-inch handsets will be made by HTC and sports Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 chip. They will also sport 4GB RAM, up to 128GB of storage, and will be running Android 7.1 Nougat.
The new release of Nougat will likely come with bugfixes and some minor new features. Additionally, Google is planning on offering some features on its new Pixel handsets that will remain exclusive to them. They will not be released to AOSP for other Android devices.
Google will also be using its new Pixel smartphones as the launch platform for Google Assistant, its new assistant that will supersede Google Now and Now on Tap. The new Assistant will be able to hold better conversations with you and show contextual results depending on your location, time, and other factors. Assistant will be heavily baked in the upcoming Pixel smartphones, with the home button in the navigation bar animating every time the virtual assistant is triggered.
The original Chromecast turned out to be a surprise hit for Google that sold millions of units worldwide. While Google has already unveiled the Chromecast 2 with faster Wi-Fi connectivity and other enhancements last year, it still lacks support for 4K streaming. Google is going to fix this by announcing Chromecast Ultra at its October 4th event with 4K streaming capabilities. This new version of Chromecast will be reportedly sold for $69.
However, considering that Google is killing off the ‘Chrome’ branding from its Chromecast protocol itself, it does seem unlikely (or just a glaring mistake from Google’s part) to call its new 4K Chromecast as Chromecast Ultra or Chromecast Plus.
Google first demoed Google Home, its Echo/Alexa competitor at Google I/O this year. The company only divulged the bare minimum details about it back then and promised to release the device before the end of this year. In all likelihood, we will see Google formally announce Google Home’s release date at its October 4th event. We should also see the company provide more details and demo the Home in action at the event.
Similar to Amazon Echo, Google Home is a Wi-Fi speaker with Bluetooth, and other connectivity options built-in. Running Google Assistant, the device will be capable of controlling lights, Nest, and other smart devices in your home. Since it runs on Assistant, you will be able to ask the device questions like “how much time it will take me to go to office today” and more. It will also support Google Cast thereby making it compatible with all devices that support the protocol.
Google already sells Wi-Fi routers under its ‘OnHub’ moniker. However, it looks like during its October 4th event, the company will be unveiling a new Wi-Fi router called Google Wi-Fi. This $129 Wi-Fi router better coverage and speed than competing Wi-Fi routers. It will work similar to how Eero or Luma works with mesh networking capabilities, so you can add another Google Wi-Fi router down the line to increase network coverage and speed.
It remains to be seen if Google will be updating its OnHub line of routers with mesh networking capabilities as well or not.
At Google I/O this year, Google announced Daydream VR, its new VR platform that is baked into Android N. Back then, Google provided a detailed list of specifications and technical requirements that OEMs will have to adhere to make sure their devices are Daydream-certified. Google also provided the blueprint for OEMs to build their own Daydream VR headset. Google confirmed soon after I/O that it is also working on its own Daydream headset, dubbed Daydream View. There has not been any more leaks or news about Daydream View since then but expect Google to formally announce its VR headset at its October 4th event next week.
Additionally, I’d expect Google to show off its Daydream VR platform with some immersive apps and games.
While Google has plenty of new devices to announce at its October 4th event, the company will also have one major software related announcement to make at the event: the much anticipated Android-ChromeOS merger. Details about ‘Andromeda’, the merged version of Android and ChromeOS, has leaked over the last few weeks. Rumors point to Google launching the first Andromeda running ultra-thin Pixel 3 laptop in Q3, 2017, so in all likelihood, we will only see the company provide details about Andromeda and perhaps release a preview version sometime early next year.
So, Google does seem to be planning on announcing plenty of new devices at its October 4th event. The announcement of Andromeda to go along with it will also change the future of Android forever. What are you looking forward to most? Pixel? or Google Home?