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September 28, 2015

What to expect from Google’s Nexus and Android event

by John_A

US-TECHONOLOGY-GOOGLE

What better way to close out the busy month of September than with a Google event? Nearly three weeks after Apple announced its latest smartphones, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, the search giant is preparing to do the same, with a keynote of its own tomorrow in San Francisco. But while the event will likely focus on a refreshed set of Nexus handsets and the upcoming public release of Android Marshmallow, there are signs that Google is also planning to deliver a couple new Chromecast products — including one that’s all about audio. We also wouldn’t be surprised to hear more about Android Wear, especially since we’ve seen a number of new devices introduced over the past month, like Motorola’s second-generation 360 and the Huawei Watch. All will be revealed tomorrow, but for now, let’s break down the leaks and rumors.

The Nexus 5X and 6P

Almost a year after its release, Google’s Nexus 6 isn’t exactly what we’d call a hit. The reasons? Its battery life was nothing to write home about, while the camera left much to be desired. Also, some people weren’t willing to give up a comfortable one-handed experience in exchange for a large screen. Google might’ve been better off having a smaller option for them, rather than a single massive phone. But now, the company seems to want to get back to the days of the successful, LG-made Nexus 5, one of its best smartphones to date — both in terms of software and hardware. To do so, it appears the company is teaming up with LG yet again, this time on a device called the Nexus 5X, which actually looks a lot like the Nexus 5, if these leaked images are to be believed.

Under the hood, the 5X reportedly packs a 5.2-inch (1080p) display, Snapdragon 808 processor, up to 3GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel camera, fingerprint sensor and a USB Type-C port. It also looks like you’ll have a variety of colors to choose from, including black, white and a less traditional (but pretty) mint green. According to multiple news outlets, the Nexus 5X is also said to be priced starting at $380 for the 16GB model, or $100 more for 32GB.

Now, back to smartphones with big screens. This year, Google appears to be taking a slightly different approach than in years past, announcing two Nexus devices simultaneously. According to the rumor mill, Google is partnering with not only LG, but also Huawei. Leaks suggest that the Chinese firm is making the larger of the two Nexuses, the 6P. It reportedly features a 5.7-inch, 2,560 x 1,440 display, Snapdragon 810 processor, a fingerprint sensor on the back, dual front speakers, USB Type-C and a beefy 3,450mAh battery. Of the two, this would obviously be pegged as the higher-end model, but that’s not to say the Nexus 5X isn’t also appealing on paper. Android Police says pricing is set to be $500 for the 32GB version.

Not surprisingly, both will run Marshmallow at launch, although Google has yet to confirm a release date for its new software. Let’s not forget the fingerprint-reading scanners either: These will be the first Nexus devices to offer this feature, which you’ll need to take advantage of the soon-to-be released Android Pay. For the sake of all our impatient readers out there, let’s hope Google starts selling these new Nexus phones as soon as tomorrow, or at least puts them up for pre-order.

Android Marshmallow

Speaking of Android Marshmallow, chances are we’ll learn more about its release date; other than revealing the OS’ official name, Google has been stingy on details. Still, we do know that one main feature Marshmallow brings to the table is support for fingerprint readers, so it’s nice (and unsurprising) to see that both Nexus 5X and 6P apparently support this kind of authentication.

Beyond that, there’s probably going to be talk about when Marshmallow is expected to hit existing devices. Of course, Google’s own Nexus smartphones will be first in line to receive the update, but here’s hoping carriers and OEMs don’t take their sweet time to bring it to as many handsets as possible.

Chromecast… for audio?

It’s safe to say the Chromecast is among Google’s most popular devices. The tiny dongle, which basically turns any dumb TV into a smart one, is affordable, functional and easy for anyone to use. Word on the street is that the second generation of the device will see a few modest changes inside and out. There’s talk of a new design, for instance, as well as support for faster 802.11ac WiFi and 5GHz networks. It’ll be interesting to find out if Google keeps it at $35 or decides to modify that insanely cheap price.

Surprisingly, Google reportedly wants to make that winning formula work for audio too, in addition to just video. According to 9to5Google, a device code-named “Hendrix” will be making its debut tomorrow, which is rumored to add wireless connectivity to any old speakers you may have lying around — so long as they have a 3.5mm headphone jack. If Chromecast Audio ends up being real, it would allow people to network their existing speakers with a simple dongle; think of it as a cheap way to upgrade to a Sonos-esque setup. No word on how much it’s going to cost, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Google chose to be aggressive and priced it around the same as the Chromecast.

Android Wear, Android TV and everything else

All signs point toward Nexus, Android and Chromecast being the standouts at tomorrow’s event. But, don’t be surprised if we hear more about Android Wear compatibility with Marshmallow, as well as upgrades to Android TV and Android Auto.

We’ll be liveblogging the action as it happens tomorrow, so be sure to tune into our dedicated page at 9 AM PT/12 PM ET.

[Image credits: AFP/Getty Images, Android Pit and Android Police.]

Source: Android Pit, Android Police, 9to5Google

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