At the Google Nexus Event that happened this week, less than a month after Apple’s Special Event, Google unveiled its next generation of Nexus phones and tablet, the Chromecast 2 and revamped Play Music plans among other announcements. The company also announced the arrival of Android Marshmallow and claimed to have reached 1.4 billion 30-day active users globally.
Here is a quick lowdown of all the new devices and announcements made by the company at the event:
Nexus 6P & 5X: Google announced two new Nexus phones – the Nexus 6P and the Nexus 5X. The new phones feature fingerprint scanners, type-C USB ports for data and 12.3 MP Sony camera sensors. The 6P comes with a Snapdragon 810 processor, 3GB of RAM and 3450mAh battery, while the 5X comes with a Snapdragon 808 processor, 2GB of RAM and 2700mAh battery. The 5X is also slightly smaller in size at 5.2 inches compared to the 6P which is 5.7 inches. The 6P will be priced at $499 unlocked, while the 5X will cost $370 when the devices launch in the US next month. Both come with Android Marshmallow.
Interestingly, Google also announced a very Applecare like protection plan for its Nexus devices called Nexus Protect. Owners will be able to purchase a 2 year coverage plan for mechanical breakdown or accidental damage, that will provide them with a replacement phone. The plan will cost $69 for the 5X and $89 for the 6P.
Pixel C: Like Apple earlier this month, Google also launched an oversized tablet called the Pixel C, although unlike the iPad Pro’s monster 12.9 inches screen, this sports a rather conservative 10 inch screen. However, like Apple and Microsoft, the Pixel C comes with an optional detachable keyboard. More interestingly, according to this Ars Technica report, the product wasn’t branded as Nexus as Google designed the tablet in house, likely to improve build quality, and contracted the product out to a device manufacturer.
Chromecast 2: Perhaps the most significant hardware change from Google comes with the new Chromecast 2, as the device now looks like a small circular medallion, rather than an oversized USB stick. The company claims that the new form factor will provide better WiFI coverage, and allow it to cost in 1080p whenever possible. The device also claims to provide higher picture quality, and comes at the same price as before, $35.
Google also launched another version of the Chromecast, that instead of an HDMI port, features a 3.5mm jack and is priced in the same range. Instead of being able to stream videos, the version of the device is dedicated to streaming audio only.
Both these devices are controlled via a new app as well, that according to reviews is significantly better than the old app. It for example, enables users to search for shows and movies across other compatible apps installed on their phones, displaying results for all the apps in a single list. For example, if the user looks for a song, the app will return results from Youtube, Netflix etc. The platform also allows users to play games like Angry Birds and Monopoly etc, by using the phone as a controller.
Play Music: Google also announced its Google Play Music (GPM) service at $15 per month for up to 6 users at its Nexus event. This family plan will reportedly allow each user to receive their own recommendations based on music playback, while the service will be starting “later this year”. The company also announced that users buying new Nexus phones will get 90 free days of the music service.There’s no word on whether the service will launch in India and when.
Project Fi: The company entered the mobile virtual network carrier field by launching a service dubbed Project Fi in April this year, although the program was available only on the Nexus 6. However, the platform will now also be available on the newly launched Nexus phones. According to Google its network utilizes the best network available in the area from among T-Mobile, Sprint and available WiFi hotspots for calls, text and data, switching between providers and WiFi to provide a seamless experience.
Android Marshmallow: Last month, Google detailed the specifics of its new OS, Android Marshmallow. The company has now officially announced that the OS will be available starting next week. We imagine the Nexus series phones will see the updates starting next week, with other manufacturers eventually providing OTA updates to other users.
Note that many manufacturers feel no obligation to upgrade users of older phones (and sometimes newer) to the new OS. Just last month we had reported that Android is highly fragmented with KitKat leading the share by 39.2%, Jelly Bean 4.2 by 17.5%, Jelly Bean 4.1 by 14.7%, Lollipop 5.0 at 11.6%, Gingerbread (2.3.3-2.3.7) at 5.6%, Jelly Bean 4.3 at 5.2%, Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0.3-4.0.4) at 5.1%, Lollipop 5.1 at 0.8% and Froyo 2.2 at 0.3%. It’s not clear what steps Google is taking to address this issue.
Android numbers: At the event, Google also announced that it had around 1.4 billion active Android devices over the last 30 days. Additionally, the company claims to have over 1 billion active Google Play users and 10,000 companies using Android for Work. Google also claimed to see 30,000 new Chromebook activations a day and to have sold 20 million Chromecasts till date.