Not to be outdone by its competitor down the road in Cupertino, Google unveiled its latest gadgets today in San Francisco, with meaty upgrades to its smartphones, a new tablet, and a leap forward for its Chromecast streaming technology.
Here’s what you should know about Google’s new products.
At the heart of Google’s announcement are its latest smartphones: the Nexus 5X and its bigger sibling, the Nexus 6P. The 5.2-inch Nexus 5X is a significant upgrade from 2013’s Nexus 5.
In addition to the usual improvements in the phone’s processor, battery, camera, and display, the Nexus 5X has a fingerprint sensor (called Nexus Imprint) on the back of the phone, not unlike the Touch ID sensor that has adorned the home button of Apple’s new iPhones since 2013. This has obvious implications for the security of Android Pay, the company’s mobile payments solution.
The 12-megapixel camera on the Nexus 5X can shoot 4K video, much like the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, which started shipping to Apple customers last week. Apple is known for having a superior camera on its phones, so it will be interesting to see these two cameras tested side by side. The Nexus 5X starts at $379 and will ship in late October.
The Nexus 6P sports a bigger, 5.7-inch display (similar to the iPhone 6S Plus) and all-metal body. Like its smaller counterpart, the Nexus 6P has a rear camera that vows to give Apple a run for its money: a large, 12.3 megapixels, 4K video, and the option to shoot video in slow motion. The Nexus 6P starts at $499 for the 32 GB model. Unlike Apple, Google acknowledges that 16 GB of storage isn’t going to cut it for its higher-end phones anymore.
Both new phones run Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system.
Google is also launching a new tablet. The Pixel C is a 10.2-inch tablet with 3 GB of RAM and an optional Bluetooth keyboard that gives it a vibe comparable to the Microsoft Surface and iPad Pro (without the stylus, however). Like the new Nexus phones, the $499 tablet will also run Marshmallow (as opposed to Chrome OS, Google’s other operating system). With this month’s launch of the iPad Pro, and now the Pixel C, the line between tablet and laptop just keeps getting more blurry.
The Chromecast video streaming stick also got a major refresh today: The device itself has been redesigned with some more modern guts that support the latest Wi-Fi standards. The second-generation Chromecast video streaming stick, which is still $35, lets users beam content from smartphones and tablets to television sets, not unlike Apple’s AirPlay technology. In addition to offering speedier Wi-Fi support, the new streaming stick will pre-fetch video content with a new predictive feature called “Fast Play.”
Chromecast is also moving beyond video with the addition of Chromecast Audio, a secondary device that turns any traditional speaker (with a standard 3.5mm audio jack) into a Wi-Fi-connected smart speaker that can stream music and audio from any Chromecast-supported service. Like its video-focused counterpart, the Chromecast Audio dongle will retail for $35.