Google I/O 2019, Google’s upcoming developers conference, will put some new hardware on display in addition to showcasing the company’s latest software advancements. This could likely take the form of some new mid-range Pixel 3 smartphones, likely called the Pixel 3a, as well as a possible upgrade to its Google Home Hub and Mini lines.
Company executives confirmed that I/O would would present some of Google’s latest hardware offerings its Monday earnings call.
“We are pleased with the ongoing momentum for Assistant-enabled Home devices, particularly the Home hub and Mini devices and look forward to our May 7th announcement at I/O from the hardware team,” said Google CFO Ruth Porat.
Releasing hardware at its developers conference is something of a novelty. As with Apple’s WWDC, Google has traditionally devoted the event to showcasing software improvements and features, like the restaurant reservation-making A.I. Google Duplex on display last year.
The company has also made it increasingly clear that it wants to move away from being too advertising-reliant. Part of this involves taking its key product — the A.I. and language processing which it uses to target ads — and putting into consumer hardware products that people use. Last October, it launched two smartphones, a laptop, a tablet, and a smart display.
But Google is plagued with the same problem facing Apple: People are tired of spending nearly a thousand dollars for phones that offer many of the same functions and specs as mid-range models. To solve the problem, Google is expected to use the May 7 conference to release the heavily-leaked Pixel 3a and 3a XL and new Google Home speakers.
Here’s what to expect:
Google I/O: Pixel 3a and 3 XL
A lot of Pixel 3a rumors come straight from the horse’s mouth. On Monday, the company updated its online shop to include an Avengers: Endgame-themed teaser video saying that “something big is coming to the Pixel universe.” Google previously partnered with Marvel to bring Hulk and Iron Man augmented reality stickers to the Pixel devices. This led many to believe that a new smartphone launch is just around the corner.
“Confidence score of ~7/10 on this but I’ve seen evidence Pixel 3a will hit Google Store in May 7th,” tweeted Stephen Hall the managing editor of 9to5Google.
Hall published the phone’s leaked specs, citing anonymous sources, on March 18. These leaked specs align with what we’d expect from a mid-range alternative to the Pixel, which at launch started at $799 and $899 for the XL variant. These leaks also appeared to be confirmed again tacitly by Google SVP Hiroshi Lockheimer, who remarked on Twitter that he has been using an “unreleased phone.” Lockheimer’s tweet, dated March 30, strongly suggests Google is in the final stages of refining the device, enough so that the key figures in its development are comfortable talking about it publicly.
Here are the leaked specs:
- Display: 5.6-inch OLED with 2220×1080 at 440dpi
- Chipset: Snapdragon 670 (10-nanometer)
- Memory: 64GB of internal storage with 4GB of RAM
- Battery: 3,000mAh that supports 18-watt fast charging via USB-C
- Single-Rear Camera: 12 megapixels
- Single-Front Camera: 8 MP
Google I/O: Upgraded Google Home Speaker
I/O could also see the introduction of an upgraded Google Home speaker. Porat singled out “Home hub and Mini devices” as an area of promise, and other analysts have predicted that a new smart speaker will arrive at I/O. Paul Erickson, senior analyst at IHS Markit previously told Inverse that the $129 Google Home would get upgrades to help it compete against the new batch of speakers that Amazon dropped last September.
“With I/O approaching, and Google Home now at a year and a half old, I would be surprised if Google does not introduce a replacement, successor, or at least an addition to the current lineup,” he said. “Or, there may be a price/positioning realignment of Google Home to more of a competitive parity at $79-$99 versus Amazon Echo.”
Google recently rolled out Duplex to iOS and Android 5.0+ devices. It could use this software release to push a superior line of speakers with baked-in Duplex features to differentiate itself from the rest of the market. With the decline of the smartphone — and futuristic twists on the display already hitting snags — many argue that voice and voice assistants are going to be the next frontier in e-commerce and web-browsing.
This will likely be the year when Google leverages I/O’s limelight to push its budding line of gadgets instead of merely focusing on software. We’ll know a lot more when Google execs take the stage on May 7. The first keynote will kick off at 1 p.m. EST, the second will start at approximately 4 p.m. EST. You can catch the action at Google’s livestream which will kick off on the Google I/O homepage.
Additional reporting by Mike Brown.