Mobility

Google ‘Plans’ Chromebook Pixel & Google Home Mini For Autumn

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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A refresh to the Chromebook Pixel laptop line may be in the offing, along with a miniaturised Google Home smart speaker and voice-activated headphones

Google may be planning a Pixel-branded Chromebook at its upcoming hardware event in the autumn, which will be the launchpad for a confirmed update to the Pixel smartphone.

The laptop would be a new Chromebook Pixel, the last version of which launched in 2015, according to a report by website Android Police, which cited a source familiar with Google’s plans.

Google Home Mini

The event may also see the launch of a miniaturised version of the Google Home smart speaker, according to the site’s source, which did not disclose further details.

But the report did speculate the laptop may be a continuation of an earlier rumoured project called ‘Bison’, which was intended to compete with Apple’s MacBoook and Microsoft’s Surface Laptop.

chromebook-pixel

Bison featured a 12.3-inch screen, 32 or 128GB of storage, 8 or 16GB of RAM and an optional Wacom stylus. It would have been under 10mm in thickness and would have featured a ‘tablet’ mode, which may have implied the use of a screen that could be rotated 360 degrees. Bison was intended to be priced starting at $799 (£622).

The source didn’t provide details on the miniature Google Home, but it would presumably be aimed at competing with Amazon’s popular Echo Dot device, which retails for $45, compared to $129 for the full-scale Google Home. The full-sized Amazon Echo retails for $99.

Google Home and Amazon Echo are smart speakers that offer voice-activated personal assistant capabilities – Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

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Google Assistant-powered headphones?

Separately, analysis of an application Google makes for smartphones – which is simply called ‘Google’, and offers various information features – suggested the company is developing voice-activated headphones similar to Apple’s AirPod Bluetooth earphones.

After decompiling version 7.10 of the Google app uploaded to the Play Store website 9to5 Google found references to a project called Bisto that indicated the codename refers to headphones that offer Google Assistant features. The headphones would also reportedly feature built-in physical buttons.

Google has confirmed it plans to launch a new Pixel handset this year, but hasn’t said more than that. Meanwhile, rumours have it that the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL don’t have headphone jacks, which could suggest Google is planning to launch wireless headphones.

Google Home 1
The Google Home voice-activated speaker.

Apple introduced the AirPod headphones alongside the iPhone 7, which similarly removed 3.5mm headphone jacks in favour of the proprietary Lightning connector. The AirPod headphones allow users to interact with Apple’s voice-activated personal assistant, Siri, and feature various user interactions.

At its I/O event in May Google said it wants to expand the number of devices Google Assistant is built into and improve its capabilities.

Google on Monday launched Oreo, the latest version of its Android operating system for smartphones and other mobile devices.

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