Google’s #LaunchNightIn was a blitz play that packed five new products into a 30-minute onslaught on the senses. Along with the new hardware, Google took to the virtual stage to introduce some new software features for the Pixel phone family, a completely redesigned entertainment experience in Google TV and a few other surprises that make living the Google life a little cooler. We’re going to take a moment to do a quick recap of everything that was announced and when it will be available. Before we start, here’s Google SVP Rick Osterloh pulling a Chrome Unboxed with an 87-second hot take on the entire event.
87 seconds with Rick
Pixel 4a (5G) & Pixel 5
Phones aren’t our usual schtick but you know we make an exception for the #MadeByGoogle family and now, there are two more devices joining the Pixel family. There wasn’t a lot of surprises with the new 5G Pixels apart from the fact that Google has used some sort of wizardry on the all-aluminum back to get wireless charging on the Pixel 5. Apparently, there is a spot on the back of the housing that is made of the necessary plastic to support not only charging the phone but reverse charging for you Pixel Buds. Here’s a look at the phones side-by-side.
The Pixel 5 comes in the familiar Just Black and the all-new Sorta Sage which is a pretty cool looking green and is priced at $699. The Pixel 4a with 5G comes only in Just Black and will be prices at the more palatable $499. For US buyers, you’ll be able to get a glimpse of the Google Assistant’s new Hold for Me feature. When you’re on hold, the Assistant will alert you when a live caller returns to the line. You can find both phones over at the Google Store. The Pixel 5 is available for pre-order. If you order now, it looks like you can expect your new phone by the end of October. The Pixel 4a 5G is expected to be available in mid-November.
Chromecast w/Google TV
The one new product that you can actually purchase today is Google’s latest Chromecast device. You’ve probably seen all of the leaks and users that got their hands on one early but you can buy the Google TV-branded, remote-toting Chromecast from the Google Store or Best Buy and have it by Monday if you’re lucky. We were a little disappointed to see that Stadia won’t be supported out of the box but Google did officially announce that it’s coming at some point in the first half of 2021. Apart from that, the new Chromecast ushers in the era of Google TV which will rebrand Play Movies & TV in an attempt to corral all of your entertainment services into one, user-friendly UI. The Chromecast w/Google TV comes in Snow, Sky, and Sunrise and costs an amazing $49.99. Find it at Best Buy or the Google Store and in-store after October 15th.
The new Chromecast is probably the hot ticket at the moment but I am equally excited about the latest Assistant speaker from Google. The Nest Audio will be the successor to the original Google Home smart speaker but it should outshine the OG speaker from every angle. Not only does the Nest Audio come in five very Google-y colors, at $99.99, but it’s also $30 less than the original Google Home’s initial $129 price. Google states that the new Nest Audio pumps out a whopping 75% more volume than its predecessor and it will enjoy a 50% boost in bass response.
As with any Google speaker, you will be able to add the Nest Audio to your speaker groups and three far-field mics will ensure the speaker hears you as clearly as you hear it. These will also be some of the smartest smart speakers in Google’s lineup thanks to the on-device Assistant.
Nest Audio has a dedicated on-device machine learning chip with one TeraOPS of processing power. This makes the response time for controlling your music on Nest Audio twice as fast as the original Google Home. Over time, Nest Audio learns your most common music and smart home commands, enabling the device to quickly respond.
The Nest Audio comes in Chalk, Charcoal, Sand, Sky and Sage. It is price at $99.99 and will officially be available on Monday, October 5th. You can pre-order the Nest Audio from the Google Store and Best Buy along with other authorized retailers in the near future. Google is offering a $20 discount on the Nest Audio when you purchase them two at a time.
Along with the Hold for Me feature headed to the new Pixels, Google announced a major update to the Google Photos app that should be rolling out any time now. The update brings some tasty redesigns to the way we edit photos in the app with “granular manual controls” to give you more control. Additionally, Google Photos will soon allow you to adjust the directional lighting in your photos with machine learning. The feature is called Portrait Light and it should arrive with the update that’s rolling out for users over the next couple of weeks. Current features like “enhance” and “color pop” will now have large, easily accessed cards to quickly trick out your images with a single tap.
What we didn’t see was the rumored new Google Wi-Fi that showed up in a Walmart listing a couple of weeks ago. My guess is that Google may be simply refreshing the non-Nest branded Wi-Fi router and it will quietly replace the original Google Wi-Fi. Of course, there wasn’t a new Chromebook or the fabled Pixel Watch but we weren’t really holding our breath for either of those devices. Guess we’ll have to wait a little longer to see if Google is jumping back in to the Chromebook game. We’re quite confident that it will happen but when is anyone’s guess.