Not-so-cryptic teasers, seemingly ironclad leaks and a truly surprising advertising push have all led to this. Buckle up, folks: today might be a turning point for Google as an honest-to-goodness hardware company, and we’re bringing you all the news live from the company launch event in San Francisco.
By now, you probably know what Google’s going to unveil as well as we do: expect a pair of new Pixel smartphones that could spell the end of the Nexus legacy and more detail on Google Home, the Echo-like assistant that looks an awful lot like an air freshener. Throw in a new Chromecast that’ll stream 4K/Ultra HD content, a potentially tiny new wireless router and the first Daydream VR headset and we’ve got a hell of a day ahead of us. It might seem a little odd for Google to announce all this stuff on one day, but hey — what better way to celebrate the work pulled off by Rick Osterloh and the company’s new hardware division.
While Google has spent months marshalling its supply chains, the biggest announcement of the day might actually deal with software. Android and Chrome OS chief Hiroshi Lockheimer has said that we might soon look at October 4, 2016 with the same sort of historical respect as the day Android 1.0 launched — it’s big talk for sure, but I doubt we’re going to be let down. Maybe this is the day we finally get to see Andromeda, the hybrid Android-Chrome OS that has been the stuff of legend for years. Stay tuned: you’ll know everything just as soon as we do.
With the last Chromecast, Google managed to turn its inexpensive streaming device into something that was fast and genuinely useful. Now, as the rumors foretold, we’ve got a 4K/HDR upgrade in the Chromecast Ultra. It’s still a svelte puck like the earlier models, but it’s got a bit of a stealth bomber aesthetic. And at $69, it’s far more expensive than the current $35 Chromecast. Still, it comes in $10 less than Roku’s cheapest 4K player, and it’ll be useful for anyone who wants to quickly shoot high-res video to their new 4K TVs.
Google says Chromecast Ultra is 1.8x as fast as the last model, and it also includes Ethernet support through a dongle. Google Play Movies will also get 4K support soon to provide content to the new Chromecast, and it’ll offer HDR with the Dolby Vision standard.
Chromecast Ultra will be available in November, where it’s going to go head-to-head with Roku’s new players, Amazon’s 4K Fire TV devices and potentially a new Apple TV.
Click here to catch all the latest news from Google’s fall event.
It’s that time of the year when tech companies trot out their newest wares hoping to cash in on the holiday season buying spree and Google is no different. On October 4th the search giant is holding an event to show off, well something, but most likely some new phones. The company is mum on the details but of course that hasn’t stopped the rumor and leak machines from spinning up and pumping out what we can expect from the Android maker’s celebration of consumerism.
After years of branding their reference design Android phones, “Nexus” it looks like Google is taking a cue from its high-end Chromebook line. The company is expected to announce not just one, but two new “Pixel” phones. Expect to see a five-inch Pixel and a 5.5-inch Pixel XL for fans of cramming giant gadgets into their jeans. Both phones are expected to sport 4GB of RAM, a Snapdragon 821 processor, 12-megapixel camera, fingerprint sensor (expected to remain on the back like the 2015 Nexus) and hopefully better battery life. The Pixel will have a 1080p display while the XL will mostly likely have a quad HD screen.
Rumors also suggest the headphone jack isn’t going anywhere. Which is nice because it’ll be one less adapter you’ll have to drag around town. All that technology and access to music via legacy products will cost a premium though. According to Android Police, the HTC designed Pixel phones will start at $649. (Ouch.)
Running those yet-to-be-announced-but-yeah-we-know-they’re-coming-phones will be Android Nougat 7.1, an update to the recently launched OS. While point-one updates are usually about bug fixes, this one is rumored to bring round icons and a redesigned launcher to the Pixels. Whether these new features will make their way to older Nexus phones remains to be seen.
The expected announcements won’t just be focused on phones. There’s a good chance that the Amazon Echo competitor Google Home will show up on stage. Announced at I/O this past summer, the voice-based Bluetooth speaker/assistant is expected to cost $129. No rumors on a launch date, but logic says that it’ll launch sometime before the holiday season.
Continuing with the in-home technology announcement fun, Android Police reports that a more robust version of the Chromecast is in the cards. The awesomely named, Chromecast Ultra will stream 4K and UHD content though it will cost $69. It’ll join the cheaper Chromecast line that streams 1080p and audio.
And finally, there are reports that Google will launch another router to join the OnHub. But instead of being a hub just for networking and IoT, the rumored Google WiFi (clearly the company ran out of cool names after the Chromecast Ultra) will compete with the Eero home networking mesh system. It’s also expected to have smart features to control your connected home. The system will be sold on a per unit basis so users can add coverage to their home on an ad hoc basis, each fetching $129.
There are some rumbling that Google will announce a third operating system. The hybrid of Chrome OS and Android is allegedly being built for laptops and tablets, and will bring together the best of both worlds. Recently Chrome OS got access to the Google Play store. But Andromeda might be a more robust solution. The company is expected to announce the OS with it launching sometime next year.
If Google does unleash all that gear on the public October 4th, it’s going to be one the largest hardware releases ever for a company that’s known more for indexing the internet and creating the operating system on your exploding Samsung phone.
Whatever happens, we’ll be there reporting the news as it unfolds.
Those rumors of a 4K-capable Chromecast dongle just got more substantial. Evan Blass (who has a knack for accurate leaks) has posted an image of what he says is the Chromecast Ultra. The device itself isn’t remarkable — surprise, it’s a puck with an HDMI cable attached. However, it might just say a lot about Google’s plans. To start, its very existence corroborates talk that Google’s October 4th event is about much more than new phones. And notice how it replaces the Chrome logo from earlier Chromecast models with Google’s increasingly ubiquitous “G?” That lines up with the logo seen on the back of the company’s leaked Pixel phones, as well as test versions of Chromecast firmware. Clearly, Google is aiming for more harmonious hardware branding.
There’s not much known about what’s inside the Chromecast Ultra, although previous rumors suggested that 4K-friendly hardware might be the only major selling point. You’d have to pay a premium for it, too. The Ultra will supposedly cost $69, or about twice as much as the regular model. That’s chump change next to the cost of a nice 4K set, but it’d show that Google isn’t tied to the notion of Chromecast as a low-cost streaming peripheral.
Google Home, the latest entrant in the voice-activated-assistant race, will cost $130 and include the colorful base options shown off at the company’s I/O conference in May, according to Android Police. Home is Google’s answer to the Amazon Echo, though the reported price means it’s $50 cheaper than Amazon’s flagship device. Earlier this year Amazon unveiled the Echo Dot, a smaller version of the assistant, and the second generation of this little gadget costs $50.
Android Police also reports the so-called Chromecast Ultra, a 4K media streaming device, will cost $70. That’s double the cost of the standard Chromecast, though the report claims that the new dongle will include HDR capabilities as well.
As we covered earlier today, Google is also apparently building a $130 smart router called Google WiFi, Android Police reports.
We’re prepared to find out official details about Google Home, 4K Chromecast and a bevy of other gadgets during Google’s October 4th event in San Francisco.
Source: Android Police
Just in case you need another way to watch college football, Fox Sports Go has launched apps on a few more platforms. There’s now an app available for Roku, as well as the ability to stream on Chromecast (at least on Android and from the web, I didn’t see an option to do it from iOS yet). Neither platform mentioned support for the 60fps or Multiview Display support that’s in its just-released app for the new Apple TV, but if all you want to do is stream a game quickly, they should get the job done.
Source: Fox Sports Go
The answer to the question of what Google will call its next Nexus phones may turn out to be not Nexus at all. Android Central first reported a name change last week, while tonight Android Police notes sources saying there will be two devices, one 5-inch phone called the Pixel and a 5.5-inch phone called the Pixel XL. More importantly, it also has a date (seconding a previous report by Droid-Life) for their debut: October 4th.
The rest of the rumor concerns other hardware, including an upgraded Chromecast ready for 4K video called the Chromecast Plus or Ultra, and a new Daydream VR headset that Google announced during I/O 2016. Finally, it’s also expecting the company to fully detail its Google Home efforts, although other details on prices or release dates are still unknown. Google has not yet commented on these reports or confirmed a date, but we’ll keep our calendars open all the same.
Source: Android Police
Like Gmail prior, it honestly seems like Google Cast has been in beta forever. Well, it’s actually only been two years according to Google, and that test period ends now. Cast is directly built into Chrome as of today and anyone can use it without having to install or configure additional add-ons or extensions. Now everyone can throw individual browser tabs to your Chromecast — or even your desktop — in addition to services like Netflix or Google Play Music.
Maybe now that the software is out of beta we can get a totally new Chromecast that has stronger innards all around. Maybe. The folks who Google says watched and listened to 50 million hours of media using the HDMI dongle in the last month would probably appreciate it.
Source: Chrome Blog
By Chris Heinonen
This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. Read the full article here.
We’ve spent hundreds of hours over several months using six multiroom wireless speaker systems in every possible room and even outside, and determined that Sonos is the best. It has a class-leading music ecosystem, excellent sound quality, and unparalleled ease of use. Because Sonos has a variety of great-sounding speakers at different prices, just about anyone can get into a Sonos system with room to grow.
Who should get this
Multiroom wireless speaker systems are for people who want to be able to play music all over their house and easily control it from their phone, tablet, or computer. They let you play different songs on each speaker, or group speakers together to play the same song in multiple rooms. They support both local media libraries and streaming services, allowing you to play music from almost any source. They make it easy to expand your system by just adding another speaker or zone.
If you care only about music in a single room, or don’t care about multiple sources, other options—like Bluetooth and AirPlay speakers—will work for less money, although they require your phone, tablet, or computer to be the streaming source. (Multiroom wireless audio solutions access the music sources directly, so they won’t wear down your phone’s battery life.)
How we picked and tested
We spent several months using six speaker systems in every room (and even outside) to find the best multiroom wireless speaker system. Photo: Chris Heinonen
We looked for audio systems that could be set up in multiple rooms, either as speakers or as sources for an existing audio system. We wanted systems that could play back local music (your MP3s, for example) and stream music from online sources (Spotify and the like) completely from your smartphone or tablet so that you would never need to physically access the speaker. Each speaker, or “zone,” needed to be able to play from a different source than other speakers, or to be grouped with those other speakers for all of them to play from the same source. The ideal multiroom wireless speaker system is reliable and easy to install and update. It should also offer a large variety of products at a wide range of prices, as well as support for Bluetooth or AirPlay.
We researched all the models currently available, and we spoke to Ty Pendlebury of CNET and Darryl Wilkinson of Sound & Vision, who review multiroom wireless speaker systems. We then picked the most promising systems, and for each one we brought in at least two zones’ worth of equipment for testing.
Once we got everything in, we put the speakers all around the house, from the basement to upstairs, to make sure range wasn’t an issue. We listened to local files and the main streaming services (Spotify, Pandora, Amazon, Apple Music) on all of the contenders. In the case of soundbars, we watched movies and TV as well. With systems that had a 3.5-millimeter line-in, we used a switcher to send the same music to all the speakers and directly compare them.
Sonos has done the multiroom wireless speaker system thing longer than anyone, and the company’s experience shows. Photo: Chris Heinonen
Sonos is the best multiroom wireless speaker system because it supports the most streaming services, has a wide selection of great-sounding speakers, offers thorough search features, and comes with a well-organized app that runs on almost all major platforms. Sonos keeps its platform current by adding more services regularly, introducing new features such as Trueplay room-correction technology, and updating its models. The Sonos user experience is the best of any of the multiroom wireless speaker systems available.
Sonos offers speakers that start at the low end with the small Play:1 and extend to the Playbar soundbar for use with a TV. You can use a single speaker, combine two into a stereo pair, or even build a 5.1-channel home theater system using the Playbar, two other speakers for surrounds, and the matching Sub. If you already have speakers that require an amp, you can use the Connect to add them into a Sonos system. The Connect also has a stereo input if you want to connect a turntable, tape deck, or Bluetooth receiver. Passive speakers, like our favorite bookshelf speakers, can be added by using the Connect:Amp, but if you’re looking for a stereo solution you can get a pair of the impressive Play:1s for less. The most serious audiophiles might consider upgrading to a pair of Play:5s.
Currently, Sonos supports 48 streaming services, whereas many other multiroom systems offer a half dozen or fewer. That selection covers all the major ones, including Spotify, Pandora, Amazon, Google Play, and Apple Music. You can also play back your local music library and subscribe to podcasts. No matter how or where you get your music, the odds are that Sonos will support it. Plus, Sonos keeps all of its services inside a single, well-designed app for your computer or smartphone, which makes it easy to search across every service you subscribe to.
Google Chromecast Audio makes it easy to affordably convert sound systems around your house into a whole-home audio system.
If you aren’t ready to invest a few hundred dollars into a Sonos system, the Google Chromecast Audio offers an affordable and compelling alternative. You get an Oreo-sized puck with a single 3.5-mm output that is both analog and optical. It lets you stream from a huge number of iOS and Android apps (Spotify, TuneIn, Google Play, Plex, Pandora, and more), supports grouping rooms together, and offers high-resolution audio.
However, it doesn’t have the simple, single app that Sonos offers (instead, it’s integrated into individual apps and browsers). Also, some services still don’t work with it, and because it isn’t a unified hardware-and-software system, you’ll need to turn on a separate speaker each time you want to listen. Sonos handles all of that directly inside the app. But you can forgive a lot of its downsides at this price.
This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.
Google has begun rolling out a built-in Cast option for Chrome 51. You simply have to right click a tab or click the hamburger button on the right-hand part of the desktop browser to find a line in the menu that says “Cast…” Doesn’t mean the old extension is completely useless now, though — you don’t need it to beam anything to your Chromecast anymore, but you could still use it as a shortcut. Besides, it looks like the feature isn’t available for everyone just yet, even for those with up-to-date Chrome browsers. If you still don’t have access to it, you may want to hold off on uninstalling the extension and checking your menus every now and then.
Google will also give you the power to mirror tabs into Google Hangouts when the stable version of Chrome 52 comes out. To be precise, it will enable you to Cast to cloud services including Hangouts, though it’s unclear what other services will work with it in the future.
Via: 9to5Google, Android Police
Source: Google (1), (2)