If the rumors are anywhere near accurate, Google should be getting very close to announcing a new Android TV/Chromecast dongle that carries the code name ‘Sabrina’. The question is, when? We’ve already seen marketing videos of the device but Google’s hardware launches have been delayed and rearranged for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic that brought millions of us home from our workplaces and schools. That’s not to say that ‘Sabrina’ has, in fact, been delayed. Only that Google, along with thousands of other companies, has canceled in-person and virtual events while still trying to figure out a strategy for releasing new hardware to the public.
While we have no solid dates, a recently leaked product listing for the upcoming Pixel 4a could give us some insight on when Google could be unveiling its latest hardware. The listing was from a French retailer that has since removed the Pixel 4 but the release date on the listing was July 7th. This could very well have been a simple placeholder but the accidental publication of the product along with the early July date could mean that Google will be making some announcements in just a few weeks. Further leaks have pointed to a July 14/15 product announcement which lines up close to the July 7th date in the product listing. (There has been scuttlebutt that the announcement could be July but the phone won’t actually launch until late summer but I don’t feel that rumor carries a lot of water.)
All that to say, Google is primed and ready to start releasing some hardware and a recent discovery by 9to5Google could indicate that the new Google Android TV dongle may be in the mix. Launched last December, Google’s Android TV developer kit just received a platform-specific update that had a little surprise inside. Kyle Bradshaw shared the video that was pulled from the Android 11 preview for Android TV and it confirms that Google’s new dongle looks just like the leaked marketing photos known as ‘Sabrina’. The video is a brief 8 seconds and demonstrates the device being plugged in. This is possibly a part of the setup process or, based on the filename, a tutorial for rebooting the dongle.
Now, Android 11 isn’t reported to be launching until sometime in August or September and Android TV updates are generally rolled out later than the updates for mobile devices. However, I don’t believe that we’ll have to wait for Android TV 11 to see Sabrina. My guess is that these finishing touches are being added to the Android TV preview in order to get them rolled into the current version, Android 10, in time for the hardware’s actual debut. Seeing that Google doesn’t have any live launch events scheduled and Apple is pretty much done until the company’s next iPhone launch that will presumably be in September.
So, Google would be wise to get the Pixel 4a our sooner than later and it would behoove them to announce an actual virtual event at which they could show off a line of new hardware. Perhaps the rumored Nest Home alongside the Pixel 4a and this new Android TV dongle? If they wanted my opinion, that’s what I’d do and I’d do it big. Create some hype and make the press take notice that great hardware and software are being produced in tandem in Mountain View. Whatever they do, we’re all anxiously waiting to see what’s next for Google and whether or not the company will remain in the hardware game. Stay tuned and see. Who knows? Maybe Google will tease a new Chromebook…