We’re getting toward the end of the typical Fall gadget event season (Apple is still waiting its turn to announce the new iPhone). Today, however, it’s Google’s turn and the company is streaming its Launch Night In event over the web.
We’re expecting a new Google Pixel 5 smartphone with 5G baked in as well as some new Chromecast gear that has reportedly leaked out into stores well before the announcement. But, there could be any number of other surprises in the hopper. So, feel free to watch the live stream above or read on for a full recap of the highlights.
We’re starting off with the new Google TV and Chromecast products. Google TV takes over for Android TV as a platform for consolidating your streaming services and live TV options and enabling voice commands for navigation.
Like Apple TV, it pulls content from all of the subscription apps for which you have accounts. You can make a unified watch list that you can edit from your phone or your laptop. It also has ambient mode to turn your TV into a giant digital picture frame like you can with the Home Hub devices with screens.
Google TV is arriving first on a redesigned Chromecast. The new model now comes with a remote that accepts voice commands after you press the Assistant button.
The new Chromecast is only $49 starting in the US and going to other countries later. That’s $10 more than the new Amazon Fire TV Stick, I wouldn’t be surprised to see both drop in price as the holiday season comes around.
Nest Smart Speakers
Nest Audio is a $99 smart speaker with a fabric exterior like the most recent Nest Mini. Google says it has 50 percent more bass and 75 percent more volume than the original Google Home due to a new driver setup.
The new speakers work as part of a whole-home audio solution, so users can ask the system to play songs in specific zones created in the Google Home system.
The first phone out of the gate is the 4a with 5G built-in. It costs just $499 to start. The Pixel 5 has 5G as well as weatherproofing and reverse wireless charging.
The new camera system now gets an ultra-wide lens as well as software upgrades to the HDR tech. Portrait Mode now gets Portrait Mode, so you can take pictures with simulated blur even in low-light. Portrait Mode itself now gets a new Portrait Light feature, which adds simulated directional light. That’s similar to what Apple has been doing with its Portrait Mode.
Video shooting now gets different video stabilization modes to accommodate better panning.
The new Extreme Battery Saver mode pares down your apps to exactly what you need and can stretch out battery life up to 48 hours in case you get lost in the woods or the zombie apocalypse happens.
The new on-hold mode will sit on-hold for you when you make a call and then call you back when someone picks up. That way you’re not glued to your phone for a long wait when you try to cancel cable or achieve some other seemingly impossible task.
Everything announced today is already up for pre-order in the Google Store and will be out in the coming weeks.