Google may specialize in software, but this week should see the company roll out a slew of new hardware products. From updated smartphones to a new VR headset, we're expecting big things to come out of Google's Oct. 4 press event in San Francisco.
Our coverage begins Tuesday at noon ET/9 a.m. PT. Until then, here's a roundup of rumored product announcements, and whether we think they'll see the light of day on Tuesday.
What We Know: Google's Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X were released about a year ago — a lifetime in the world of smartphones — and are due for a refresh. Google has already released a new version of its Android operating system and, while devices like the LG V20 feature the updated OS, Google would surely likely a flagship phone of its own to showcase Android Nougat.
What We Think We Know: Google's new phones reportedly won't be named Nexus at all. According to Android Police, the phones will now be known as Pixel phones, led by the 5-inch Pixel and the 5.5-inch Pixel XL.
HTC is reportedly building the phones on behalf of Google, and both the Pixel and Pixel XL are expected to feature the latest hardware -- specifically Qualcomm's Snapdragon 821 processor. Qualcomm says the 821 is 10 percent faster than its predecessor and that the Adreno GPU is getting a 5 percent boost as well. It will be interesting to see how the Snapdragon 821-powered Pixel phones measure up to Apple's latest iPhones, which pack a processing punch of their own thanks to Apple's A10 Fusion chip.
As for specs, the 5-inch Pixel phone is expected to offer a 1080p display, while the Pixel XL will feature 2560 x 1440. Both phones should have 4GB of RAM, 12-megapixel cameras on the back, 8-MP cameras up front and larger batteries than their Nexus predecessors. UK retailer Carphone Warehouse confirmed these rumored specs when it posted information about the Pixel phones prematurely. That Carphone Warehouse post also revealed that the rear camera on both phones will an f/2.0 aperture and 1.55-micron pixels, which could mean for better photos in low light.
Venture Beat published a leaked image of the rumored phone last week, with the most noticeable feature being the circular launcher icons on the phone's interface.
Reports suggest the Pixel phone is likely to start at $649, the same price Apple charges for its iPhone 7. This would be a significant departure from Google, which charged $499 for the high-end Nexus 6P when it debuted a year ago.
One other aspect of the new Pixel phones we think Google will emphasize when it unveils the devices involves the Daydream virtual reality platform unveiled by the company earlier this year. Google says Daydream-compliant phones will need to meet some pretty high standards to reassure app makers that devices will be able to handle the VR experiences they come up with. You would imagine phones carrying Google branding to meet those standards.
Daydream VR Headset
What We Know: When Google talked up Daydream at its developer conference this year, it didn't just focus on phones. The company also said it would release reference designs for a Daydream headset and controller that hardware partners could use. But the company also revealed that it planned to make a Daydream headset and controller of its own.
What We Think We Know: If headsets and controllers are to join Daydream-ready phones in arriving before the end of 2016 as Google promised, this seems like the perfect time to introduce us to whatever VR hardware is in the works. In fact, Android Police says that's exactly what Google is planning to do at its Oct. 4 event, with the headset possibly being called the Daydream View.
A report in Variety says the headset will cost $79. That's $20 cheaper than Samsung's Gear VR. The Daydream headset will work much like the Gear VR, in that you'll use a connected phone as the display. Google has said that Daydream headsets will tap into features within Android Nougat such as low latency support and high-quality head tracking. Based on what we saw at Google's developers conference, the headset will also work with a handheld controller that features a trackpad and two buttons — a home button and one that developers can use for whatever Daydream apps they build.
What We Know: Daydream wasn't the only thing Google talked up at its developer conference. The company also touted a new speaker called Google Home that will powered by Google Assistant, a voice-controlled virtual assistant that can control connected devices, perform searches and control music playback. We saw a video of Google Home in action during Google's developer conference and executives holding it up on stage, but we haven't had any hands-on time with the device.
What We Think We Know: That could likely change on Oct. 4, when Google could at least tell us how much Google Home will cost and when it will ship. (Android Police puts the price at $129, which would be less expensive than the Amazon Echo.) If we're lucky, we may even get to see some of its voice-powered functionality up close. And maybe Google will be able to explain why we would opt for this voice-powered speaker over Amazon's already popular voice-powered speaker, especially when the Amazon Echo's Alexa voice assistant already boasts 3,000 skills such as ordering a pizza, checking on the weather, looking up recipes and booking rides on Uber.
Chromecast in 4K
What We Know: Like the Nexus phones, the Chromecast 2 made its debut last year, adding more ways to find streaming content to watch. And with the holiday season coming up, it could be time for Google to come out with an updated version of its pluggable streaming device.
What We Think We Know: Could it be time to add 4K to the streaming stick mix? It would give Chromecast a leg up on competing products from Roku and Amazon, which offer 4K support in their set-top boxes but not in their streaming stick products. And that's exactly what Google appears to be planning based on the rumors.
VentureBeat published leaked photos of the new Chromecast, which will reportedly be called the Chromecast Ultra. It retains the Chromecast 2's circular design, but opts for an all-black look with a "G" logo stamped on the front. It will reportedly have the ability to take 4K content on a mobile device and stream it to a TV or display with an HDMI port.
That same Android Police report that puts a price tag on Google Home says the Chromecast Ultra will sell for $69 — nearly twice what you'd pay for a Chromecast 2. Reportedly, Google will keep that 1080p-capable streaming stick on the market for users who don't have a need for a 4K-capable device.
A New Router
What We Know: Google's already in the router game with the Google OnHub, a networking device that prizes simplicity. Google doesn't actually make the OnHub itself, leaving that task to Asus and TP-Link, which make different versions of the $200 router.
What We Think We Know: Android Police has the scoop here, with a source telling the website that Google will start making its own router. Reportedly called the Google Wifi, the device is expected to adopt many of the OnHub's features; it could also offer mesh networking features in which you use multiple devices to extend the range of your Wi-Fi network throughout the home. Google WiFi could have one notable advantage over the existing OnHub router: Android Police says it will cost $129.
MORE: Best Routers
What We Know: If past results are any indication of future events, Google trotted out the Pixel C convertible tablet the last time it introduced new phones and a Chromecast update. It's possible that the company could have some other hardware in the works — maybe another tablet, maybe a Chromebook update — though the Oct. 4 lineup is already looking pretty crowded should all the above rumors come to pass.
What We Think We Know: Packed lineup or not, Google's allegedly working on a 12.3-inch laptop that will run a hybrid Android/Chrome OS called Andromeda. Android Police broke that story last week, though it also said the touchscreen laptop wouldn't be out until the third quarter of 2017. That would suggest it won't be on the agenda this Tuesday.
A tweet last week by Hiroshi Lockheimer, senior vice president of Android, Chrome OS and Play has people thinking Google has something planned, though. Posting on the eighth anniversary of Google's Android announcement, Lockheimer said he had "a feeling 8 years from now, we'll be talking about Oct. 4, 2016."
Whether that's alluding to some sort of Android/Chrome mash-up, a follow-up on the news from earlier this year that Android apps are coming to Chromebooks or something else altogether will become clear once Google executives hit the stage at Tuesday's event.