Google’s yearly hardware event has become a showcase for a lot of new products, from Pixel 3 phones to Chromecasts to the new Pixel Slate. October is almost here, and this is what we expect to see. CNET will be there, and this is what we think will show up — including the most-leaked new phone ever.
Date and place confirmed: Tuesday, October 9, NYC
For the first time, Google’s having its Pixel event in New York instead of San Francisco. (The 2012 event scheduled for New York was cancelled as Superstorm Sandy loomed offshore.) CNET will be there in force. The event will be streamed live, and you can watch it here.
Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL: Already leaked far and wide
The next-generation Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones are going to be the stars of the show, and we seem to already know what the Pixel 3 will look like and what colors it come come in . Heck, there’s even a Pixel 3 XL unboxing and video.
Unless we’re all being thrown for a loop, is there anything about the Pixel 3 we don’t know?
The Pixel 3 XL has a notch in its display just like the iPhone X and most other 2018 phones. But it also has a ‘chin,’ or an extra bit of space between display and the edge of the phone. The smaller Pixel 3 is notch-free, but has top and bottom bezels.
The big question is likely to be ‘How good is the camera?’ Both the Pixel 3 and the XL are sticking with a single rear camera (again, according to the leaks). But given the fact that the year-old Pixel 2 camera is still a contender, it’ll be interesting to see how the new model compares to the Smart HDR effects available in the new iPhone XS.
No Pixel Watch, per Google
There won’t be any new Google-made smartwatch, sorry. Maybe next year. In the meantime, new Wear OS watches are appearing with added heart-rate fitness, water resistance and NFC Google Pay, and new Qualcomm chips promise a next wave of watches with stepped-up battery life over the next six months, if you’re patient. Or, just download the new version of Wear OS, which improves the whole interface and adds improved Google Fit readouts for fitness goals.
Google Pixel Slate: The rumored Chrome OS tablet
Google’s last significant hardware update to its Chromecast media streamer was the Ultra in 2016. That being said, Google always has Chromecast software updates: the most recent adds Google Assistant to Chromecast, making its TV functions even smarter. A new Chromecast model that adds Bluetooth and improved 5 GHz Wi-Fi leaked through FCC filings back in August — and now, Best Buy is apparently already selling it (!). But temper your expectations: According to the box already sold at Best Buy, 4K and Amazon Prime support aren’t onboard this new model. It looks as if Google may bundle the new Chromecast with a Home Mini speaker as a ‘Smart TV Kit,’ too.
Google Home Hub
Last year, Google went bigger and smaller with its smart speakers, adding the Google Home Mini and Google Home Max. This year, it’s all about smart displays: A wave of Google-powered smart display-toting speakers like the Lenovo Smart Display 10 are already available from third parties, but,the rumored Google Home Hub — which leaked earlier via an FCC filing, too — will be Google’s own smart-speaker-with-smart-display answer to the Amazon Echo Show. It’s just in time, too: Amazon unveiled its second-generation Echo Show in September, and it goes on sale just two days after Google’s event.
Other stuff we could see on Oct. 9
Based on the long string of leaks, the phones, Chromecast, tablet and Home Hub are all very safe bets for official unveilings on Oct. 9. But here are some long shots we might see as well:
Pixel Buds 2: The oddball Google Translate-enabled Pixel Buds that emerged last year were interesting, but maybe their design has just been absorbed into the Pixel 3’s included headphones. This year, instead of a connecting band, it would be nice if they were truly independently wireless like AirPods.
More cloud gaming news: Google just announced that it’s streaming the latest Assassin’s Creed game straight to your Chrome browser. Is this the opening salvo of the rumored ‘Yeti’ gaming service — something built into that new Chromecast? If so, Oct. 9 would be a good time to talk about it.
Wild cards — something as weird as Google Clips was last year: Google’s weird always-on AI-powered camera, Google Clips, was last year’s novelty gadget (actually, it really only arrived last February). Just a friendly reminder that Google, always unpredictable, could very well reveal another oddball AI-powered gadget this year. Maybe Google makes a variant on its 3D VR180 cameras released earlier this year. Or, not.
Don’t expect new VR stuff: Google’s simple snap-on VR accessories for Daydream-compatible Android phones already work fine and could just hold the course through 2018. If there is an update here, maybe the fit will be readjusted again. Google already has one standalone VR headset, the Lenovo Mirage Solo, that debuted in May. Google’s experimenting with new VR features on that headset that could end up being a hint at what will come in 2019, possibly to compete with Facebook’s upcoming standalone Oculus Quest, which already looks to offer more features than the Mirage Solo at the same $399 price.