New Google Nest Audio Smart Speaker and Other Devices Debut in Half-Hour Hardware Blitz
Google’s annual Made by Google event this year covered several major new products but didn’t hold a lot of surprises thanks to leaks and outright giveaways by the company about what it would announce. A new Chromecast with Google TV, the Nest Audio smart speaker, and the Pixel 4A and Pixel 5 smartphones are notable, but Google took an odd angle on pitching them in comparison to how it rolled out its new hardware last year. The 30-minute Launch Night In video presentation flew by, but high production values and celebrity appearances didn’t quite make up for what felt like a very shallow roll out in comparison to the blizzard of new products revealed at Amazon and Apple’s recent events. A segment about Stadia felt entirely redundant, with the biggest news being that the controller now comes in wasabi green. As one Voicebot reader put it, “Well, that was somewhere between underwhelming and laughable.” There are some worthwhile takeaways, however. Here are the important new products announced at the event.
|What to Know
|The Nest Audio completes Google’s brand transition by replacing the Google Home smart speaker. The Nest Audio looks like a scaled-up version of the fabric-covered Nest Mini introduced last year, but with far more powerful audio hardware that makes it seem more like a regular speaker that happens to have Google Assistant than a product built around the voice assistant. Google spent more than half of the presentation talking directly and indirectly about the audio capabilities of the 19mm tweeter and 75mm mid-woofer with Mark Ronson and Selena Gomez. That equipment gives the Nest Audio 50% more bass and 75% more overall volume than the Google Home. Media EQ automatically tunes anything played to sound better based on the content played as well. The high-end audio can also be played in stereo by pairing two Nest Audios, and the playback can move from room-to-room using Google Assistant. The microphone can be muted with a switch on the back should you want to speak without accidentally turning the voice assistant on.
|Available in the U.S. Now, pre-orders in several other countries
|The new Google Chromecast device plays the same basic role as previous iterations, but no longer requires a smartphone to play content. The Chromecast comes with a remote control with a button to activate Google Assistant, as well as YouTube and Netflix buttons. As it no longer uses a smartphone, the Chromecast uses the new Google TV operating system. Google TV will supersede the Google Play Movies & TV app on Chromecast and Android devices with just a Google TV app. Google TV will play its own content and sync with other streaming services enough to sort their titles into genres alongside its native movies and shows.
|Pixel 4A (5G)
|Japan on October 15. The U.S. and other countries in November.
|As the name suggests, the Pixel 4A supports 5G, a first for Google’s phones. It looks a lot like a bigger version of the previous Pixel 4A, a 6.2-inch screen compared to 5.8 inches, and with a better processor.
|October 15 for some countries. Available in the U.S. October 29.
|The Pixel 5 joins the 4A in supporting 5G for the first time, albeit without having it in the name. The phone is fairly mid-range but comes with a faster than usual refresh rate to smooth animation. As in earlier Pixels, Google made a point of adding a powerful camera, including an ultrawide lens for the first time. The Night Sight feature will now work in portrait mode and the video recording function has been upgraded. is focused on delivering some unique features along with — for the first time — 5G support.