Big changes are happening at Alphabet and Google — the search giant has scrapped its Project Ara modular phone, several Nest employees are switching over to Google, and Fiber executives were ordered to lay off several employees and make huge cuts to its operating budget. There’s plenty of good news, though — a Google’s holding a product launch on October 4, where we’re expecting to see the long-rumored Android and Chrome OS merger, Pixel phones, Google Home. and Daydream.
Google uploaded a YouTube video set to Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love,” and in it the traditional search box slowly transforms into a smartphone. At the end, Google’s new “G” logo crops up, along with an October 4 date. The “made by Google” event will take place at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco at 9 a.m. It will be live-streamed on YouTube.
— Google (@google) September 20, 2016
Google tweeted the video, and also included a link. It takes you to a webpage that lets you add in an email address so you can stay “updated about devices from Google and all the things you can do with them.” An silhouette of a phone quickly transitions between several photographs, potentially signaling an importance of the smartphone’s camera. The photos could even be taken by the smartphone.
The ad also aired on Monday Night Football — meaning that Google is intending to heavily market these devices to a broader audience that the previous Nexus smartphones.
The search box transitioning into the smartphone likely refers to the fact that Google is marketing these devices as the first phones “made by Google.” An odd idea, considering HTC is still rumored to be manufacturing the upcoming devices.
Still, a smartphone isn’t the only device we’re expecting at the October 4 event. We’ll be there covering the event, but in the meantime, here’s everything you need to know.
An Android and Chrome OS merger?
Google has two operating systems. One’s for mobile devices, and the other is for laptops and desktop systems. Over the years we’ve seen laptops blending into tablets, bridging the gap between smartphones and personal computers.
Now, we may finally see the long-rumored merger between Android and Chrome OS on Oct. 4. This year alone — Android added a freeform multi-window desktop mode in 7.0 Nougat (that’s not easily accessible), and Chrome OS got the Google Play Store to run Android apps.
We announced the 1st version of Android 8 years ago today. I have a feeling 8 years from now we'll be talking about Oct 4, 2016.
— Hiroshi Lockheimer (@lockheimer) September 24, 2016
Android Police suggests that we may see the two unite under a new OS that puts Android first. It’s rumored code name is Andromeda, and we may just see a sneak peak at the event. Android Police didn’t offer a source, and seem to be putting their faith behind Lockheimer’s tweet. Take this information with a grain of salt, as it’s one announcement we have heard the least about.
Still if true, Andromeda would mark one of the biggest changes to Android since it’s initial release in 2008. You can read more here.
Goodbye Nexus, hello Pixel
Google’s Nexus program launched in 2010 with the Nexus One, which was manufactured by HTC. It was meant to offer a pure version of Android with fast updates — a goal Google has maintained over the years with the Nexus S, the Galaxy Nexus, the Nexus 4, the Nexus 5, the Nexus 6, the Nexus 7 (2012 and 2013) the Nexus 9, the Nexus 10, and of course, the more recent Nexus 5X and 6P.
It’s fitting that after beginning with HTC, Google is ready to begin a new brand of devices starting with the Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer again. Android Police is reporting the two Google smartphones expected to come in October, widely believed to be HTC-manufactured Nexus devices, will in fact be called the Pixel and the Pixel XL.
The Pixel line has a shorter history — it began with the Chromebook Pixel in 2013, a premium laptop that ran Google’s Chrome OS. Google then made a 2015 refresh of the same name, but the company recently discontinued it with no plans for a new device any time soon. Last year also saw the release of the first Android Pixel device — the Pixel C tablet.
Google is reorganizing its hardware division under former Motorola CEO Rick Osterloh, and the Pixel and Pixel XL rumor seems to suggest the company is unifying all its hardware platforms into one.
The Pixel and Pixel XL are currently code-named Sailfish and Marlin, respectively. Both devices are expected to look the same though they will be sized differently, hence the “XL” addition. Keep in mind that we cannot yet verify this information.
The Pixel XL is expected to be a 5.5-inch device with a Quad HD resolution of 2,560 by 1,440 pixels. It is rumored to use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 or 821 processor, have 4GB of RAM, 32GB and 128GB storage options, a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 8-megapixel selfie cam.
The Pixel, or Sailfish, is rumored to also be powered by the Snapdragon 820 or 821 and 4GB of RAM. But it’s smaller thanks to a 5-inch display, and Google has lowered the resolution to 1,920 by 1,080 pixels. It’s expected to have the same storage and camera options, and is rumored to house a 2,770mAh battery.
The fingerprint sensor on both devices is expected to be a little more useful — such as having the ability to expand the notification shade with a downwards swipe. Both devices will likely feature proprietary software, such as a new launcher with Google Assistant integration. You can read more about the rumored Pixel and Pixel XL here.
Google Home, Daydream, smartwatches, and a 4K Chromecast
While the two Pixel devices are sure to be the highlight, as indicated by Google’s announcement video, but it will likely be the day the company launches Google Home, its own Daydream VR headset, and a 4K Chromecast.
Google offered a refresh of the original Chromecast and introduced a new model, the Chromecast Audio, last year. It seems like a 2016 refresh is on the menu. This version of one of the best-selling streaming devices may be called the Chromecast Plus or the Chromecast Ultra, according to Android Police. It’ll reportedly cost $69, and be able to both cast high dynamic range (HDR) content in 4K .
Google announced Daydream, its virtual reality platform for Android, at its developer conference in May and said it would arrive in the fall. The company said it is also building its own headset, while also offering a reference design to other manufacturers. Google’s own headset may be named Daydream View.
And of course Google Home, another device announced at I/O, may also make its debut at the Oct. 4 event. The vase-like object is powered by Google’s upcoming Assistant and is akin to Amazon’s Echo, which is powered by its Alexa voice assistant. It’s rumored to cost $129, or a full $40 less than the Echo.
There have also been reports of two Android Wear smartwatches in the works by Google, and with Android Wear 2.0 set to launch some time in the fall, it’s not unreasonable to expect some hardware to pair it with. There isn’t much information available yet, but rumors point to further Google Assistant integration.
It’s clear that Google Assistant is an important part of many of these upcoming devices, but we have yet to see official information about it. That could change soon, as Google’s upcoming messaging application Allo is expected to launch this week. The messaging app carries a tight integration with Google Assistant.
Related: Hands-on: Google Duo
That’s a lot for one event. Still, October 4 isn’t far off so you won’t have to wait long to see what Google has in store for us.
Article originally published in August 2016. Kyle Wiggers contributed to this report. Updated on 9-24-2016 bu Julian Chokkattu: Added news of Andromeda, an Android and Chrome OS merger.