Google has taken a reserved approach to its hardware and software launches since the pandemic began. Unlike Apple, which has held two, highly-engineered and slick virtual events (and is expected to host a third), Google canceled its annual developer conference in May and used blog posts to unveil Android 11 and a budget Pixel phone this summer. That makes this Google’s first major event of the year, Playfully dubbed Launch Night In.
We already have a good idea of what new hardware to expect, because Google has been pretty upfront about its announcements. We’ll take you through what should be coming and how to watch the event.
How to Watch (and When)
Google’s event starts at 11 am PT today, September 30.
You can watch the livestream at this website. The show will have closed captioning throughout.
If you can’t make it at that time, maybe because you’re catching up on the final installment of this year’s WIRED25 (featuring the likes of Anthony Fauci), Google says it will have a video up afterward on the same website.
At Launch Night In, you’ll likely see Google talk about updates to Google Assistant and new eco-friendly initiatives. As for hardware, Google has teased two new Pixel phones, a smart speaker, and a new Chromecast.
Pixel 4A 5G and Pixel 5 Phones
When Google debuted the Pixel 4A in early August, the company saiid two other phones were coming in October: The Pixel 4A 5G and Pixel 5. The new 4A isn’t expected to be too different from its 5G-less sibling. It will likely have a larger screen, a bigger battery, and a slightly better processor (which will also enable 5G connectivity). Google has priced it at $499, $150 more than the regular Pixel 4A.
The Pixel 5 is the natural sequel to the high-end Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL that came out in 2019, though this year’s flagship is going to be quite different. Rumors indicate Google will not be using the best processor available but instead is sticking with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G (the same one in mid-priced phones like the LG Velvet and Motorola One 5G. It should still perform just as well.
News leaks suggest Google is skipping the hands-free radar chip it put in the Pixel 4. That means no hand-waving gestures to trigger certain actions (it was kind of awkward anyway), and there might also be an absence of secure face unlocking. Google might just stick with the tried-and-true rear fingerprint sensor.
You’ll likely get the same niceties like wireless charging, water resistance, 5G, and a good-quality OLED screen with a smooth 90-Hz refresh rate. The battery, a sore point on the Pixel 4 range, is rumored to be bigger. All of this is likely to cost $700 or less (the Pixel 4 started at $800).
Google is going to launch a new Assistant-powered smart speaker. The Nest Audio, which Google sent a render of to media after extensive leaks this summer, is the successor to the original Google Home from 2016, which the company discontinued this year. The fabric-covered oblong speaker looks similar to the portly Google Home Max, but it’s significantly smaller and is rumored to have a price tag under $120.
Chromecast With Google TV
Google’s Chromecast, the dongle you plug into your TV to cast media from your phone, hasn’t seen a refresh in quite a while. The new fourth-generation model looks to change that. Rumors indicate it will offer an interface for the first time, specifically Android TV. So instead of just casting from your phone, you can browse through channels via an included remote (or with your voice using Google Assistant). Google may also rename Android TV to Google TV. Again. Its price may hover around $50.
There’s always a chance Google has another surprise in store, but there haven’t been leaks about other hardware, so we’re not expecting much else.
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