At its annual fall event yesterday, Google revealed two new Nexus smartphones, each of which will run the next version of Android, Marshmallow 6.0, set to roll out next week. The $379 Nexus 5X [pictured, at left] and the $499 Nexus 6P [pictured, at right] are available now for pre-ordering and due to ship in late October.
Speaking at the event's kickoff, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that the company's Android mobile operating system had reached a new milestone of 1.4 billion active devices worldwide. By the end of this year, Google's Chromebooks will also achieve a new level of adoption, with more of those devices being used in U.S. schools than any other devices combined.
Yesterday's event also included details about a new Android tablet, the Pixel C, which is set to hit the market in time for the holidays. In addition, Google introduced two new Chromecast devices: a new Chromecast for TV viewing and Chromecast Audio for Wi-Fi music streaming into audio systems. Both are available now at the Google Store, as well as at Best Buy stores, with other retail outlets expected to be added later.
'Best Camera Ever' for Nexus
Pichai said Google builds its own hardware so it can drive its Android ecosystem further into new territories and capabilities. Those capabilities are on display in both the new Nexus 6P and 5X, each of which features improved camera technologies, fingerprint authentication and smarter sensors to track activities, gestures and other environmental factors.
For example, the Nexus 6P -- developed in partnership with Huawei -- features "the best camera we've ever put into a Nexus device," said Dave Burke, vice president of engineering. Originally designed for video photography, the camera technology uses very large (1.55 micrometer) pixels to capture more light per pixel and reduce the need for handshake correction, Burke said.
Available in frost white, aluminum and graphite, the Nexus 6P is also Google's first phone with an all metal body. The 5.7-inch device is made from aeronautical-grade aluminum, with a screen that occupies 74 percent of the size of the device.
Developed with LG, the Nexus 5X features a 5.2-inch screen. Each device comes with a 12.3-megapixel rear camera and USB Type-C port for faster battery charging. In tests, the 6P fully charged in half the time it takes for an iPhone 6 Plus, Burke said.
Android Pixel C: Focus on Productivity
The Google team tasked with developing the Pixel family of Chromebooks has the goal of building "aspirational devices," Pichai said. In the case of the Pixel C, that meant developing a tablet that runs on the Android mobile operating system rather than on the Chrome OS. Pichai said the Pixel C is "the first Android device focused on productivity."
Google hasn't yet released full specs for the Pixel C, but early reports indicate the basic device will feature a 10.2-inch display, with a C port for fast-charging and 32 GB of storage at a cost of $499.
In addition to the new Chromecast and Chromecast Audio devices, each priced at $35, Google is also rolling out updates to its Play Music and Photos services. For $14.99 per month (compared to the $9.99 per month individual plan), Google Play Music users will be able to share a single account among as many as six people. And new Chromecast support for Photos lets users view slideshows of their pictures, share images and label photos for easier searching on any device.