Google October 9 event: Pixel 3, Pixel Slate, and a last-minute surprise

Chris Davies - Oct 8, 2018, 12:10pm CDT
Google October 9 event: Pixel 3, Pixel Slate, and a last-minute surprise

Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel Slate, the Google Home Hub, and maybe some surprises: Google is ramping up for its big October 9 launch event, and we’ve a good idea of what it’ll have to show you. The festivities don’t kick off until Tuesday morning, at 10am ET (7am PT) but leaks, rumors, speculation, and more have given us some solid predictions of what’s on the schedule.

Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL

You’d be forgiven for stifling a yawn when Google announces the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. After all, with phones in the wild for months now, and leaks even before that, it’s strange to think that it’ll only be Tuesday morning when the two new Android handsets are officially unveiled. That doesn’t mean they’re not worth waiting for, mind.

For a start, Google’s own phones always get the earliest taste of bleeding edge Android. Expect Android 9 Pie, and quite possibly some exclusive features other devices haven’t been able to add in yet. A single rear camera and twin front cameras are also a given, courtesy of the various leaks, but Google will undoubtedly have a story to tell about computational photography.

The Pixel Slate is more interesting

Tablets – and Android tablets in particular – have been underwhelming for some time now, but Google may be able to reboot things in 2018. That’s courtesy of the Google Pixel Slate, a new, Chrome OS powered tablet that would be the company’s first. That comes with some big potential advantages.

We’ve seen a few Chrome OS tablets already, from Google’s third-party partners like Acer and HP, but the promise of the sort of design and build quality borrowed from the Google Pixelbook and the lightness of a tablet form-factor is enough to get us excited. Recent leaks indicate that, iPad Pro style, you’ll be able to optionally dock the Pixel Slate into a keyboard so as to replace your laptop, too.

A smart display of its own

Amazon has smart displays, Facebook now has them too, but so far Google has relied on other companies to give the Assistant a touchscreen interface. That’s worked out well in the case of the Lenovo Smart Display, but we’re expecting Google to wade in with a version of its own. All signs point to that being the Google Home Hub.

According to the leaks, we’re looking at a 7-inch touchscreen, far-field microphones to hear you across the room, and the usual Assistant functionality. Prematurely-published promo material hints that Google’s focus with the Home Hub will be smart home control. Given we saw Amazon add Zigbee IoT wireless to the new Echo Show 2nd Gen recently, that seems like a sensible route for Google to take.

What about Google surprises?

Previous Google events haven’t been short on announcements, and even with three big launches – phones, tablet, and smart display – there’s still room for some surprises. One strong possibility is a successor to the hotly-anticipated-but-eventually-underwhelming Pixel Buds, Google’s Bluetooth headphones. If the second generation can cut the cord between the two earpieces, they might hold up better against Apple’s best-selling AirPods.

Then there’s Chromecast. A recent sighting of the new media streaming dongle already up for sale previewed some of the changes we’re expecting, which will primarily be internal. No huge revolution, but some welcome evolutionary adjustments all the same.

Another key factor in how interesting Tuesday’s event will be is software. On paper, for example, the new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL aren’t all too different from what other Android device-makers are offering. However Google’s forte has always been using software – either on-device or in the cloud – to maximize functionality.

Delivering a realistic portrait mode background defocus with a single camera is a good example of that, but it’s not Google’s only software success in recent years. Pixel phones typically usher in not only hardware changes but act as software showcases for Google’s cutting-edge developments. In short, the Pixel 3 hardware is really only part of the story.

Google isn’t averse to fanning the flames of that, either. In a new teaser for tomorrow’s launch, it’s sewing the seeds of doubt around the idea that we have, in fact, seen everything the search giant has in store. Previous rumors have run the gamut from the suggestion that the leaked Pixel 3 XL phones were carefully staged dummies, though to the existence of a third phone to join the line-up. We’ll find out for sure tomorrow.

Must Read Bits & Bytes