With Google’s annual hardware event ‘Made by Google’ only four days away and the tech giant all but naming the devices we are expecting to see will there be any mystery at the event? Could Google be hiding that ‘one more thing’ or have the leaks and company announcements removed all intrigue from the event?
The cornerstone of Google’s hardware has to be the Pixel line of phones. With the company settling into a comfortable cadence of Flagship and Affordable device with the Pixel X and Pixel Xa 3 months ago we would have thought there were no surprises coming. We would have been wrong.
Firstly with COVID and the social unrest in the USA delaying the Pixel 4a the typical timeframe were delayed, add to that the fact Google did not release a standard and XL variant of their 4a device and we’re starting to wander into unexpected territory.
Further to this was the announcement of a larger Pixel 4a, with 5G, a better SOC and better cameras and a $200 higher price tag sitting at $799 and we’re left wondering is this just a result of the 2020 madness and 5G transition of is Google hoping to further split their product offerings ongoing?
Lastly, there’s the Pixel 5.
Again we are hearing there will be no standard and XL variant and the SOC is not a top tier Snapdragon 800 series rather the more modest Snapdragon 700 Gaming series. This may have been ok if the device delivered an outstanding performance at a lower cost, but recent rumours suggest the Pixel 5 will come in around AU$1150, which sits uncomfortably between affordable and premium price points.
Overall, thanks to all of the leaks we can be sure that Pixel 4a 5G and the Pixel 5 will be announced this week, and until we get them in hand it will be hard to evaluate the pros and cons of all of the decisions that led to the final devices.
One of Google’s strongest product offerings is its Assistant-powered line of smart speakers and displays and again thanks to a series of announcements from Google and the full retail device accidentally going up for sale in the USA we can basically confirm everything about this device. The Nest Audio seems ready to ship at launch and follows the form factor of the previous leaks.
With a confirmed US$99 price tag we are expecting the Nest Audio to launch in Australia at or near $149. That makes the Nest Audio, with it’s upgraded speaker, slightly larger size and directional speaker a modest upgrade from the original Google Home, but one I think many of us will be investing in.
Google Chromecast with Google TV
Google’s Chromecast has been a quiet achiever, becoming a defacto standard for cross-platform media streaming since the launch of the original Chromecast. This year Google is releasing a Chromecast with a couple of firsts. The first Chromecast with a dedicated remote, and their first consumer device with their Google TV (previously Android TV) platform onboard.
Yep, that’s right, Google is rebranding Android TV Google TV, it’s unclear at this stage if that is just on this device or if Google will be rolling out the new branding across their partner ecosystem. We think the latter is more likely otherwise it will lead to mass confusion.
Honestly, this is really just a new Google TV dongle — all Google TVs have Chromecast already — but clearly Google thinks that the Chromecast brand is more likely to drive consumer adoption and the removal of Android from the names is likely to try and reposition their TV offerings away from the mobile ecosystem loyalists.
One more thing?
Over the past few days, we have seen hints and rumours of a new Nest WiFi device that has a similar form to the original Google WiFi and includes two WAN ports and a barrel charging cable. The new lower-cost WiFi is rumoured to cost only AU$150 a unit and removes the Assistant speaker from the devices.
With Google desperately needing a WiFi 6 device in their Mesh line up it’s possible that this new device will fill that niche? If not Google risks being left significantly behind in the WiFi MEsh router space. With the leaks appearing very early it’s really unclear if the new Nest WiFi is, in fact real, or if it will be ready for an announcement this week.
But what about a truly surprising device? Could Google have another device that they have keen completely hidden from rumours, code leaks, and retail blunders? If they did what could it be? The new full wireless Pixel Buds have only just seen an international rollout, so they feel unlikely to be replaced. We have seen no rumours about a new Chromebook from Google, despite their premium Pixelbook no longer being available.
Google’s smart display hardware is certainly getting a little long in the tooth, and with Amazon releasing a slew of new hardware last week the consumer expectation of new shiny things should be playing on Google’s mind. Of course, Google is no stranger to just not keeping a regular cadence with all of their devices, which is annoying but certainly keeps you guessing.
Of course, there’s always a perennial rumour about a new Pixel Watch, but as much as we would love to see Google FINALLY enter their own wearable hardware landscape with a new Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100+ Platform powered Wear OS device, it just seems unlikely. Google really does need to stand up in this space — perhaps the issues with the FitBit purchase has slowed their plans but they NEED to be in this space.
There’s always the IoT market — a new Nest Thermostat was seen passing through the FCC a few weeks ago, perhaps there will be an announcement there. The Nest Protect Smart Smoke alarm is getting on in years but honestly, there hasn’t been a lot of innovation in that space. Smart Cameras, doorbells, smart locks etc, while all growing Google just feels too disorganised to be working in that space in a meaningful way.
What we do know is what Google has told the world, “Launch Night In will reveal our new Chromecast, latest smart speaker, and new Pixel phones”. While there may be a surprise lurking behind that veil, we are unfortunately not holding out hope.