Aditya MadanapalleOct 04, 2016 11:28:16 IST
Google's big October event is just hours away, and there are expected to be a number of major announcements. We might be on the verge of an extraordinary push into Hardware by Google, especially considering the event url is called Made by Google. The biggest announcement is expected to be the launch of two new high end Android handsets, that will let Google compete directly with Apple. There are further announcements expected for Google Home, Allo, the Daydream platform, and Chromecast. This is going to be an exciting confluence of hardware, artificial intelligence and virtual reality.
Pixel and Pixel XL
There were reports as far back as June that Google was in talks with hardware manufacturers to release in house devices. Two new smartphones from Google are expected to be launched at the event, and they seem to be positioned as the direct competition to the Apple iPhone 7 and the Apple iPhone 7 Plus. They are premium smartphones, with high end specifications, with custom software, and Google Assistant baked right in, to take on Siri. The Pixel phones are expected to come with unlimited cloud storage for photos and videos, that too in the original resolution. This is an attractive feature that will heavily convenience users, as they can easily forget about managing photos and let Google do all the hard work.
The Pixel reportedly sports a 5.2-inch screen, whereas the slightly larger Pixel XL is expected to have a 5.5-inch screen. Google finally stepping in to take on Apple products, comes towards the end of a year with a number of premium smartphones launches, including the OnePlus 3, LG G5, Huawei P9, the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. While still a niche category in India, there is still a growing demand for premium smartphones.
With an increasing focus of technology products on IoT, natural language processing and artificial intelligence, there is a requirement for a command and control hub in the living room, to take on the Amazon Echo. Siri offers much of the same functionality after she made her way into the Macbooks and Apple already had HomeKit. These devices automate and control smart homes, and provide services from intelligent software agents. Google plans to get into the fight to dominate living spaces with Google Home. Google Assistant is expected to be the artificial intelligence that Google Home will use. The device can be used to set alarms, turn lights on and off, start and stop pumps, or open and close doors.
Voice commands can also be used to place orders, book tickets, or search for events. Google Home is expected to use far field voice recognition technology, to identify and deliver personalised information, by identifying who is asking the questions in a room. Amazon's Echo can also work as a family entertainment hub, an area that the Xbox Scorpio might want to edge into. Google Home is also expected to support entertainment functionality, similar to what the Chromecast devices can do. Google Home may be based on the new Brillo IoT platform by Google.
Google Assistant is expected to be launched on more products and platforms. Google Assistant is as of now available only on the instant messaging application, Allo. On Allo, assistant is pretty helpful and intelligent. Assistant makes searching through Google a group activity, and understands requests in Hindi as well as Hinglish. Assistant is a replacement for the Google Now feature.
Assistant is expected to be available on Google Home as well. Integration with third party applications and services was planned for Assistant. While Assistant may be very convenient, there are concerns over privacy. Assistant saves communications and requests that are available to machine learning platforms, to deliver better results, and improve the personalisation of the service. Google Assistant will be the underlying service on Google Home and Google Pixel, and they all are expected to work together in new and interesting ways.
4K Ready Chromecast
Chromecast is a dedicated hardware dongle from Google that allows users to cast multimedia content from their phones to their televisions. Chromecaust audio provides similar functionality for audio systems. Around this time a year ago, Google announced a new and updated Chromecast. The next generation Chromecast is expected to be unveiled in this years event where the Pixel is expected to be launched. The Chromecast may come to India only a year later, if what happened in the previous year is repeated. The device is expected to be competitively priced.
According to a report in Android Central, the new Chromecast is expected to support video streaming in 4K resolution. The current generation of devices can only stream in 1080p resolution. The latest iteration of the Chromecast is expected to focus on video, and provide improved networking capabilities.
As of now, the Nexus 6P is the only Daydream capable device in the market. Last week, Google made available the Daydream Development Kit to interested developers, and announced exclusive tie ups with high quality content publishers for the launch of the first few Daydream applications. The new Pixel phones are expected to support the Daydream virtual reality platform, which could mean there will be now announcements demonstrating the capabilities of Daydream.
As of now developers creating content for Daydream have to use a second phone as a controller, and a Cardboard based headset. There have been teases of a Daydream headset with a dedicated controller. The time seems to be right for a dedicated VR headset from Google. The Daydream headset will offer capability somewhere between that of the Cardboard, and Facebook's Oculus Rift. There are expected to be some reveals on VR specific ecosystem, along with an immersive VR UI for navigation. Here is a more in-depth analysis of Google's Daydream VR platform.
In June this year, there was speculation that Google was working on another Chromebook Pixel laptop, based on reports of a job opening for a senior hardware engineer in China. The device may be announced in the event today. Previous Chromebook launches happened in 2013 and 2015. Chromebooks are streamlined laptops meant for internet oriented use. The laptops are based on the Chrome OS.
The Pixel C laplet is a device that could switch between being a laptop or a tablet on demand. Google has an opportunity to introduce a performance oriented laplet in its line up, one that can take on the Surface Pro or the iPad Pro. The Pixel 3 is just such a device, internally referred to as project Bison. There have been various indications that a 7 inch tablet as well, by Huawei called the 7P is slotted for release before the end of the year.
Google made a slew of new feature enhancements to Android Wear at the Google I/O conference earlier this year. The user interface was revamped to bring to prominence the most critical functions on the application. The User Interface was meant to be navigated with as few taps as possible, with the screen readable at a glance. There is a notification tracking feature now that means that the same notifications do not appear on the watch and a paired device.
Google is rumoured to be working on in house smartwatches. The devices are known as the Swordfish and the Angelfish, and are expected to sport circular dials, in line with the new Android Wear UI design considerations. The larger of the two watches Angelfish, is expected to support GPS and mobile data as well. Untethered use, that allows smartwatches to function independently of any paired devices, was one of the new features announced by Google for Android Wear.
The Andromeda unveiling is only expected to happen next year, but Google may just jump the gun and surprise everyone. Andromeda is another Google OS that is expected to be maintained along with Android and Chrome OS. The OS is expected to be made for Laptop like devices. Andromeda is expected to offer the content rich Android ecosystem directly on Laptops, with a rather unique approach. Instead of integrating the mobile platform through a browser on the laptop platform, the effort is apparently to integrate the laptop platform into the mobile platform.
So there you have it, the hardware Google is expected to launch today includes a living room hub, two new phones, a VR headset, upgraded Chromecasts, and possibly new laptops, two tablets and two watches. If you are interested in watching the event yourself, here are detailed instructions. Tech2 staff is going to be live-blogging the event with updates and analysis as well.
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