Yesterday “Nexus” announced some of their new products and updates to existing offerings.
Let’s break down exactly what’s new:
The Nexus Smartphone
Google’s Nexus range aims to provide a pure Android experience to consumers, unmarred by bloatware that is prevalent in many of the leading smartphone suppliers. The Nexus device is considered to be Google’s flagship Android product, receiving updates the quickest and providing the most support for developers, a hot pick for any Android enthusiast.
The LG Nexus 5 (2013) smartphone, sporting near top of the line hardware for consumer friendly prices is still considered one of the best devices for day to day use by Android users. The Motorola Nexus 6 (2014) which followed, although equipped with top of the range hardware, the expensive price tag left a sour taste for some fans.
Today’s announcement brings updates to each version with the LG Nexus 5X and Huawei Nexus 6P and here is how they compare:
|Huawei Nexus 6P||LG Nexus 5X|
|Resolution||2560 x 1440||1920 x 1080|
|6.28 x 3.06 x 0.29||5.79 x 2.86 x 0.31|
|Processor||Snapdragon 810||Snapdragon 808|
|Storage||32GB, 64GB, 128GB||16GB, 32GB|
|Colour||Aluminium, Graphite, Frost||Carbon, Quartz, Ice|
|Rear camera||12.3 megapixel||12.3 megapixel|
|Front camera||8 megapixel||5 megapixel|
|Battery||3,450 mAh||2,700 mAh|
*As per storage options
|£449, £499, £579||£339, £379|
USB 3.0 Type C Charging
Rear “Imprint” Fingerprint sensor
Front facing speaker (Stereo for 6P)
Android Marshmallow (6.0)
The devices both feature 1.55 µm pixel camera sensors for better low light image capture and laser detect auto focus for snappy focusing. However only time will tell how great the camera really is in every day usage.
The fingerprint sensor at the back is the new security measure in the Nexus smartphones, a common trend with manufacturers, allowing users to authorise payments with the “Imprint” feature. The sensor is also open for developers to use with their apps and it will be quite interesting to see how this is implemented and who adopts it.
Both smartphones feature front facing speakers, (the Nexus 6P with stereo speakers), for enhanced media consumption and I can’t be more grateful. Back or bottom facing speakers are prone to muffling, especially when the speaker can conveniently be blocked with one finger or thumb when holding the device!
The update to Android Lollipop has been out for testing over the past few months so it comes as no surprise that it was announced as ready for release in the coming weeks. The update focuses on the stability and performance of the operating system as well as changing how permissions are handled. Some of the features include:
- Quick access to voice search.
- Heads up notification “peeks down”.
- Scrolling vertically through installed apps with top bar for common apps for time of day or common order of use.
- Google Now On Tap (long press home button for info of whatever is on current screen).
- The information can then be presented or sorted into calendar entries, meeting and event reminder, maps access and so forth.
- Voice interactions tied into apps. Control apps with voice if enabled by developers. Can be used with the screen turned off.
- Better battery life with ‘Doze’ mode which essentially turns off background apps.
This product was recently separated from the social media site Google+, a decision that was well-received and Google is keen to expand this powerful photo and video storage service through its new features:
- Integrated cross platform sharing, uploading and casting capabilities
- Subscribe to albums and notifications on album updates
- Labels to tag people/events/places in photos and videos
- Searching enabled for the tagged labels
- Can cast photos that have not been saved onto cloud
Google Chromecast is essentially a small £30 dongle that essentially turns your TV into a Smart TV if it has a HDMI connection available. This popular device (20 million sold worldwide) connects to your TV and mirrors and can cast content from the mobile app onto the screen. The newer model announced today effectively remains the same product but with a few changes.
Firstly, the design is different than the previous solid USB-like model. The newer model is a small disk-shaped device with a flexible HDMI connector allowing for easier connectivity at not-so-convenient angles. The internals have been updated so that the device supports modern Wi-Fi standards, supporting dual 2.4 and 5Ghz bands. Arguably the most important change is that the device now comes in three colours!
The new model sports the following features:
- More video content availability, more channel partners.
- More music streaming services included, now supporting Spotify.
- A new Chromecast app, allows for content discovery from apps on your devices.
- Shows cast enabled apps.
- Allows to discover new apps.
- Search for content and it will show you the apps that provide it through their services.
- Better playback controls.
- “Fast Play”, a feature in the netflix app that preloads content for “80% reduction” in load time. From my understanding, this can be supported by other developers.
- Content prediction based on history.
- Smartly downloading – quicker streaming experiences
- Support for gaming with the “most powerful gaming device in [users] home, their smartphone”. This made me chuckle. Although being able to use your smartphone as the controller is handy for mobile games.
- More backdrops, from google photos facebook and flickr.
Spotify leads me conveniently onto Google’s own music service, Play Music which has now introduced a family subscription plan for a monthly fee of $15 (likely to be £15). This plan allows for 6 individual users to maintain their own Play music accounts under one price plan. Neat!
You can take advantage of this by then playing music through the other announced casting device, Chromecast Audio. This is exactly what it sounds like, Chromecast for your speakers and again at £30. It allows for music to be played from any speaker connected to the device in your network from a casting device. If you have an old pair of speakers lying about, connect the Chromecast Audio device (also requires its own power source) to the AUX, optical or RCA inputs and now you have a wireless set of speakers! Just like the Chromecast, this can be controlled by any device capable of casting.
Pixel C – Convertable $499 (32gb) 599 (64gb) Tab with optional $149 keyboard
The final announcement of the day was Pixel C, a 10.2in, USB Type C tablet. This interesting product has taken influence from a few different places it seems:
- The name being very similar to Google’s Chromebook Pixel as well as the sleek silver metal design. Pixel is Google’s premium hardware range which is reflected with the price and the build quality
- Android tablet itself, supporting Android 6.0 instead of Chrome OS. Google has opted with the Android 6 OS over their Chrome OS this time, probably due to the currently better app support
- Microsoft Surface devices, with the add on keyboard for productivity.
Driven by an impressive Nvidia Tegra X1 processor with 3GB of memory, 10.2 in 2560×1800 display, stereo speakers and USB Type C connections, it’s safe to say the tablet has enough power under the hood for entertainment and productivity. The limiting factor however is the limited tablet optimised apps available on Android.
The optional bluetooth keyboard is a slick add-on featuring:
- Self aligning magnets so it attaches securely to the tablet
- 100 to 135 degrees adjustable keyboard
- When used as a screen cover, the battery is inductively charged by the tablet, neat-o!
Like with all of the announcements, it is prudent to see the products and features in action before coming to a conclusion. Nevertheless, as a tech enthusiast, there is definitely much to be excited about this announcement!