New Chromecast and redesigned Google Home smart speaker unmasked, will YOU upgrade?
Google has sent out invites to its next product showcase, dubbed “Google Launch Night In”, where the Californian company has promised to reveal a “new Chromecast, our latest smart speaker, and our new Pixel phones.” Sounds like a pretty packed night. Unfortunately for Google, some of the biggest surprises of the event, which will be streamed online, have surfaced online ahead of the curtain call.
Google cannot be too miffed about the design of its next-generation smart speaker appearing online ahead of the event because Google itself published an image of the gadget months ahead of the “Launch Night In”. The search firm responded to a number of leaks on social media with images of speaker codenamed “Prince” back in July.
According to the latest whispers, “Prince” will be branded as “Google Nest Audio” when it launches later this year. It looks set to replace the Google Home in the current line-up of Google-branded hardware and completes the transition away from the “Google Home” brand in favour of “Google Nest,” which was previously reserved for security cameras, smart thermostats and other connected home products.
Rather than sitting flat on a surface, like the previous Google Home smart speaker and the existing Google Nest Mini, the Nest Audio will seemingly sit upright. It’s tough to judge the dimensions from the few images we’ve seen, but the Nest Audio certainly looks to be bulkier than its predecessor. With any luck, that extra size will result in some better audio quality too.
Whereas the Google Home design was part-fabric and part-hard plastic, this new model is almost entirely covered in mesh. Two finishes have been spotted – a dark Charcoal-like colour and a lighter off-white finish.
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Despite widespread rumours that the next-generation smart speaker from Google would have a built-in battery pack to allow listeners to pick it up and take it with them outside, every image we’ve seen so far shows a thick power cable plugged into the back of the Nest Audio.
As well as the Nest Audio, Google has promised details on the Pixel 5 – which is rumoured to drop the gesture-sensing system found on its predecessor and come equipped with 5G support – and a 5G-enabled version of the stellar Pixel 4a from earlier this summer. And finally, Google has promised an update on its immensely-successful Chromecast series.
According to recent reports, Google looks set to take a leaf from the Roku Streaming Stick and Amazon Fire TV Stick playbook and ship its next-generation Chromecast with a remote control. Yes, after years of forcing Chromecast owners to scour the house for their smartphone every time they want to select a new episode of a show, or pause a movie – Google is finally bundling a dedicated remote.
Leaked images that purport to show-off the final design, courtesy of WinFuture, reveal a circular directional pad, Netflix-branded button and a Google Assistant shortcut to, presumably, use the AI assistant to find films by a certain director, recommended shows, check the latest weather and headlines, and all of the other useful tricks we’ve come to expect from the virtual helper.
As before, the Chromecast itself seems to have a hockey puck-like design that plugs directly into the HDMI port on your telly. Power for the gadget seemingly comes from a USB cable – just like the current model.
Unlike previous Chromecasts, Google looks set to use its Android TV operating system, which is already available on a wide-range of TVs from a number of popular manufacturers, to bring a menu, streaming services and games to new HDMI dongle. This will allow the Chromecast to compete directly with the likes of Roku, Amazon and Android TV set-top boxes, like the Nvidia Shield series.
As always, these are only rumours and unconfirmed leaks for now, so take it all with a pinch of salt. Express.co.uk will be watching Google’s Launch Night In from the comfort of our (home) office and will bring you all of the latest announcements on October 30, 2020 from 6pm BST (2pm ET / 7pm CEST)
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