What to Expect at Google's Oct. 4 Event
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Four months ago, Google CEO Sundar Pichai went on the record to say that his company had no plans to make new smartphones of its own, and would instead continue to rely on partnerships to manufacture the devices.
Those partnerships will bear new fruit on Oct. 4, when Google is expected to unveil the latest version of its Nexus/Pixel phones alongside a host of other consumer tech devices. PCMag will be bringing you live coverage from the event, which kicks off at 9 a.m. PT/12 p.m. ET, and while we don't know exactly what Google has in store, we have several pretty good guesses.
Google already uses the Pixel nomenclature for its Chromebooks, which are expensive but still some of the best Chrome-powered devices money can buy. That premium theme will likely continue with the Pixel smartphone line, which will either complement or replace current Nexus devices, depending on which Internet rumor you believe.
Pixel phones will likely come in at least two sizes, similar to Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy lineup. But the size difference could be small, with Android Police reporting that Pixel will have 5- and 5.5-inch versions. That report corroborates rumors that surfaced earlier this year about two devices codenamed Sailfish and Marlin.
Other specs and pricing remain very speculative. Reliable hardware leaker Evan Blass writes that the devices will be manufactured by HTC. His photos show a handset with a buttonless black bezel, a front-facing camera and a volume rocker along the right edge.
Android Police reports that the smaller of the two devices will have a 5-inch 1080p display, a quad-core 2.0GHz 64-bit processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 12MP rear camera and an 8MP front shooter.
An ultra chromecast
Citing a person familiar with the company's plans, Blass wrote that Google will also reveal a new 4K streaming stick on Oct. 4, to be called the Chromecast Ultra. A leaked photo shows a round, jet-black device with a short HDMI cable that looks very similar to the Chromecasts currently on sale, but without the logo. Instead, there's simply Google's stylized "G" logo, which suggests that the search giant may be consolidating its product branding.
The Chromecast Ultra is expected to retail for $69, according to Android Police. Although that's nearly double the price of the current Chromecast, it's still less than many competitors charge, including Roku's new $79 Premiere, which can stream in 4K at 60fps.
(Day) Dreaming of VR
First announced at Google's I/O developer conference in May, Daydream is a new protocol for VR-ready Android phones and tablets. The idea is similar to the Oculus platform -- you'll be able to snap your phone into a visor or headset, and take advantage of Google's collection of VR apps, videos and games.
Google previously confirmed that it intends to sell its own Daydream-branded hardware, which it will likely unveil on Tuesday (the Daydream website announces that it is "coming in Fall 2016.") Google's approach here will likely be similar to that of Tango, its augmented reality platform, which is available on a branded device (the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro) as well as offered to other manufacturers via an API and developer kit.
Bringing it home
We'll likely see updates to or a new version of Google's Wi-Fi router, called OnHub. Various versions of OnHub are built by third parties, and they're fairly niche products at this point given their $199 starting price. It could take the form of a $129 router that Android Police suggests will have many of the same capabilities as OnHub, such as enhanced range. It could also include cheaper, smaller devices similar to the Echo Dot, which will extend the Wi-Fi signal and provide an interface to control other smart home features.
At I/O, Google also showed off an Amazon Echo rival called Google Home, so look for launch details at Google's event later today.