After months of leaked photos and specifications, today could be the day that Google introduces new Android products that showcase the latest version of its mobile software. Early Monday morning, Google’s VP of Software Engineering, Vic Gundotra, posted on Google+ that he was struggling to fall asleep. He also tagged Sundar Pichai, Google’s head of Chrome and Android, asking if he was unable to sleep as well. The post makes it appear that Android news is imminent; if not today, then this week.
As my colleague Alex Colon noted earlier, tomorrow marks one year since Google introduced the Nexus 4 smartphone and Nexus 10 tablet, along with a new version of Android. Google could mark tomorrow’s anniversary with new products, or even jump the gun and do so today. There are likely few surprises left however, because much of what I expect to hear from Google has already leaked with three main announcements for certain. There’s a chance for a fourth, however. Here’s what to expect.
Hello Nexus 5, it’s about time we met
Google itself spilled the beans on the Nexus 5 phone, showing it off in a YouTube video in early September and then pulling the clip. Whether it was intentional to visually leak the phone or not doesn’t matter once it’s officially announced. For the record though, I think the leak was planned. Regardless, it’s a safe bet we know what the phone will be like.
Expect the Nexus 5 to have either a 4.95- or 5-inch full HD display and run on a 2.3 GHz Snapdragon 800 chip paired with 2 GB of memory. An 8 megapixel camera with optical image stabilization, support for LTE networks and a 2300 mAh battery are all likely as well. Wireless charging, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0 are also expected, and the phone will probably be available on November 1 in either white or black, possibly starting a $349 for a 16 GB model. I also think the Nexus 5 will include the “always listening” feature for Touchless Controls, just like in the Moto X.
A new Nexus 10 tablet with beefy performance
Last year’s Nexus 10 brought a super high-resolution large screen to Android and it should see nice improvements this year. Look for the Nexus to keep the same 2560 x 1600 resolution on a 10-inch display but have a thinner profile and less bezel around the screen. Inside, the Nexus 10 is expected to get a significant hardware boost. Like the Nexus 5, the tablet will use a fast Snapdragon 800 chip but benefit from 3 GB of memory. A larger 9500 mAh battery, higher resolution cameras and support for 802.11a/b/g/n with MIMO technology are also likely. Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC are expected but not wireless charging, although I hope I’m wrong on that.
The tablet should be lighter as well as slimmer but don’t expect it to weigh a pound like the Apple iPad Air. Instead, I’m looking for the Nexus 10 to weigh just over one and a quarter pounds; down slightly from last year’s model.
Android 4.4 KitKat for all…. sorta.
Google launching the newest version of Android surely isn’t a stretch. The company has already announced the name and rough time period to expect it. And Nexus devices are created in part to showcase new Android software, so it makes sense for the software to arrive with the Nexus 5 and Nexus 10.
Google says “It’s our goal with Android KitKat to make an amazing Android experience available for everybody” which means two things to me. First, it will improve the user experience through software, likely the Google Experience launcher that’s been leaked. Second, Google could be hinting at the low-cost of new Nexus devices while at the same time, bringing the Google Experience software to many older phones. It would act like a reset button for Android, providing as many devices as possible with the same look and feel.
It might be time for Google’s smartwatch
Since so much information on Google’s new Nexus devices has leaked, it would be difficult to expect the company to keep a smartwatch under wraps. But it is a possibility and one that I’d love to see, provided the watch is built around Google Now as its core. Most of the smartwatches today are simply second screens for our smartphones, which don’t necessarily add value for some experiences.
Google has something that no other company has, however, and it fits the wrist like a glove fits your hand. What is it? Data that’s about us and important to us. You can see that in Google Now which surfaces contextual information at just the right time. And time is the essence of a smartwatch: Combine it with location and data and you have a device that could truly reinvent the very concept of a smartwatch. Had Gundotra pinged Motorola’s Punit Soni on his Google+ post, I would have said that a smartwatch is a sure thing. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, but I’m still holding out hope.