It’s no secret that Google traditionally holds a hardware-focused event towards the end of the year. If timelines for multiple products are kept, then we are expecting an event before September 23rd this year, and that’s just two and a half months away. This year is shaping up to be Google’s biggest ever hardware event ever.
So what might we be seeing come September (or a little later if our math is off)?
Following its anticipated launch at Google this year, the Google Home has to be one of our most anticipated hardware releases of the year. It is scheduled for released by the end of the year however, we will be very surprised if it doesn’t at least show itself at next Google Hardware event, if it’s not announced for sale.
We already know Google is planning on releasing the Google Home in Australia ‘soon’ after the US launch. Now, Google’s definition of soon could very well differ from mine and yours.
Google releasing new phones this year is almost a certainty. Firstly, this event is traditionally about Nexus phones and devices, and secondly, we know they are working on a Daydream VR-ready phone for this year, and finally we’ve had the specs of the larger Marlin leak out, as well as recreated renders of the devices show up (thanks to Android Police).
We’re expecting to see two phones by Google this year, a 5-inch and a 5.5-inch model which, if rumours are true, will differ only in their screen size, resolution and their battery capacity. If the launch follows normal timelines, we should see US availability in October with Australia getting the handsets not too long after.
The exciting prospect is that HTC is tipped to be manufacturing both models this year. The big question still surrounding these devices will be how will they be branded? Nexus? Google? Pixel? Something else? Will the OEM’s get co-branding? We’re guessing the answer to that won’t be known until Google wants it to be.
Android Wear Devices
Since the launch of Android Wear in March of 2014, Google hardware fans have been clamouring for Google to make and sell their own Android Wear devices. Until now they have not done so, instead by locking down the Wear platform more than Android for Phones and Tablets they have been able to maintain control of the ecosystem without the need to develop reference devices.
However, recent rumors have broken firstly revealing the potential existence of a Google-designed Android Wear devices and subsequently recreated renders of the potential devices. The two suspected models would provide both a fully featured and a stylish showcase for Google’s new Android Wear 2.0 platform.
Google finally entering the Android Wear market could signify many different things. Perhaps they don’t feel existing devices have pushed the boundaries of Andri d Wear and want to showcase the true potential of the category, ala the purpose of the Nexus program? Alternatively, they may be bolstering the Wear devices on offer to ensure the platform they started has a strong hardware offering to support it through its infancy?
It could also signify that Google is moving to become a larger player in the Android Hardware space, directly competing with the rest of the Android ecosystem. Sundar Pichai certainly indicated that Google would become more opinionated about their hardware, and would be offering differentiation at the software level beyond what has traditional been found on their devices. That said, Sundar was equally clear that they were not doing their own phones, so time will tell.
While we think there is a very strong chance that these rumoured Wear devices from Google will be included in the September hardware event it’s still not clear if that is the case. Google only recently formalised their hardware division under Rick Osterloh, so unless this project was already in the works it may just be too soon for it to be released.
We haven’t heard any credible rumours about a new Google tablet as yet, however, a Huawei Exec from South Africa was quoted as saying that they would be involved with making a future Nexus device. Her exact quote was “We’re doing the Nexus again this year, by the way”.
There’s not a lot of room to move in that comment, and seeing as all of the rumours are pointing toward HTC manufacturing both phone models for Google this year some think/ hope that perhaps this indicates that Huawei is working on a Tablet device for Google?
The Pixel C more than meets the needs for Google to offer an Android Tablet, however, it is at the larger end of the spectrum so perhaps Huawei could be working on a smaller and cheaper device based on their MediaPad platform.
To be honest we don’t think that the Chromecast is in need of a refresh yet. The existing Chromecast (2nd Gen), and Chromecast Audio offer all the feature the platform currently supports and with no new features requiring new hardware coming out of Google IO this year it seems unlikely they will get a significant refresh.
There is an outside possibility that a ‘Chromecast Home’ device could come out to sit alongside the Google Home (seeing as it’s basically a Chromecast itself). However, with the Home not even launched yet it seems unlikely that Google would release a “mini” version of the Google Home alongside it at the initial launch.
We did spot a refresh of the Asus Nexus Player passing through the FCC, however, nothing ever eventuated from that. It is important to note that the refresh was just a minor change to some internals, and considering how underpowered the Nexus Player was it would be strange to see Google relaunch that product.
Out of all of their new platforms, Android TV is definitely in need of careful attention and expert stewardship. Just like the Google TV platform before it, Android TV is stagnating with little development happening from either the 3rd party developers or Google’s end.
Whilst new hardware would be great a more hands-on approach to getting more over the top services onto Android TV may be a better first step. In Australia, none of our large TV networks have released a “catch-up” app for Android TV. As a result I now don’t see any Australian TV, this is something Google needs to be working on.
Typically the release of a new Google ChromeOS device gets its own hardware event, and with the existing cycle for Chromebook Pixel releases we’re not really expecting a new device this year. We’re happy to be wrong but we’re calling this one unlikely.
That’s it for what we’re expecting to see out of Google this year. 2016 is definitely shaping up to be the biggest year in Google Hardware we have ever seen. If all of the rumours come true I think I’ve got a very Googley Christmas coming up!
What are you most excited for out of Google suspected product range? What devices will you be putting on your wish list? Let us know below.