In an event that held few surprises, Google on Sept. 29 announced widely expected updates to several of its hardware products and its Android mobile operating system.
Among the product introductions were two new Nexus phones, the 5.2-inch Nexus 5X and the 5.7-inch Nexus 6P (pictured). The 6P represents Google’s new top-of-the-line Nexus Android-powered smartphone and boasts of what Google described as an aeronautical-grade aluminum case, a 64-bit processor, a 12.3MP camera and a USB Type-C reversible plug port for fast charging.
The 7.3mm thick Nexus 6P is Google’s first full-metal-body smartphone and was built in collaboration with Huawei. The phone is available in Frost White, Aluminum and Graphite, and starts at $499.
The Nexus 5X, built in collaboration with LG, starts at $379 and features a 6-core Snapdragon processor, a 12.3MP camera and a Type-3 USB port.
Both smartphones run Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the latest version of Android, right out of the box. The two new devices also include Nexus Imprint, a new fingerprint-reading sensor that controls access to the devices and also authenticates users to Android Pay, Google’s recently launched mobile-payment service.
The phones are available for preorder and are expected to start shipping in October, according to Google. The Nexus 6P and 5X will ship unlocked and will work across all major networks in the United States and internationally.
As expected, Android Marshmallow officially launched Sept. 29 with the release of the two new Nexus models. The new operating system updates several Android functions and introduces a few new ones as well. The most significant updates include a new runtime permissions capability that gives users a way to grant or refuse permissions when an application is running, as opposed to doing it when the app is first installed.
Another key new feature in Marshmallow is its support for fingerprint sensors like the ones available on the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P.
Google also introduced updated versions of its $35 Chromecast devices for streaming video and audio from smartphones and tablets to TVs and speakers via WiFi. The updated Chromecast for video devices feature a new integrated High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cable that makes it easier for users to plug the device into the back of a TV. It is also equipped with a so-called adaptive antenna system for ensuring that video-streaming quality remains consistent, even if the quality of the WiFi signals keep changing, Google said.
The new Chromecast for Audio, meanwhile, plugs into the auxiliary input port, RCA port or optical input of any standard speaker and allows users to stream audio to speakers and TVs over WiFi.
More than 200,000 movies and TV shows from sources, such as Netflix, Google Play and HBO Now, are available for streaming via Chromecast. In addition, multiple popular music apps like Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora and Google Play Music support Chromecast for Audio, a Google executive said in announcing the new devices.
Google on Sept. 29 also expanded its Pixel lineup of Android tablets with the Pixel C, a new model that comes with a full-size keyboard that attaches magnetically to the tablet. The product is expected to start shipping around the holiday shopping season.