Google reveals its own Microsoft Surface, new Chromecast and more

Posted Sep 29, 2015 by James Walker
Google unveiled several new devices during its live event today. Alongside its new Nexus smartphones, the company also revealed a large, keyboard-equipped Android tablet to rival Microsoft's Surface as well as a new-look, next-generation Chromecast.
Google Nexus 5X and 6P devices
Google Nexus 5X and 6P devices
September 2015 Google Event
The event lasted for a little under an hour and a half and is now available to watch in full on YouTube. It featured an introduction by new Google CEO Sundar Pichai — his first public presentation since entering the role — and talks by several senior Google figures as the new devices were unveiled.
Google opened the event by talking about Android, revealing that the number of active users in developing markets including Pakistan and Vietnam has almost doubled in the past year. Over 4,000 unique Android devices have been built to date and today Google added two more that wear its own branding.
The LG Nexus 5X and Huawei Nexus 6P are designed to "show off the latest and greatest, directly from the people who built Android." The new phones have 5.2-inch and 5.7-inch displays respectively and include fingerprint sensors, Qualcomm fast charging support and 64-bit processors.
The Nexus phones, covered in full in a separate article, weren't the only devices to get a public airing today. The hugely successful Chromecast streaming dongle has been reinvented as a tiny circular accessory designed to live behind your TV.
The Google Nexus 5X (left) and Nexus 6P (right)  announced 29/09/2015
The Google Nexus 5X (left) and Nexus 6P (right), announced 29/09/2015
Now available in black, red and yellow colours, the all-new Chromecast boasts cutting-edge Wi-Fi performance that can adapt more easily to the changing conditions in your home as other people move about and demand data on their own devices.
Apps now pre-load in the background so they appear on your TV more quickly and Chromecast is even able to intelligently start downloading content it thinks you might want to watch, cutting out loading screens when you reach to press play.
Chromecast's companion app is getting an update too. The content discovery process has been simplified to make it easier to find new things to watch. Existing media such as photos stored on the phone can also be cast with less hassle using the redesigned interface.
As a completely new addition to the Chromecast range, Chromecast Audio is designed specifically for people who want to turn existing speakers into ones capable of streaming audio over Wi-Fi and the Internet. The small device costs just $35 and will work with any speaker set with conventional audio inputs. Unlike Bluetooth dongles, Chromecast Audio's Wi-Fi connection and built-in streaming support for Spotify, Pandora, Google Play Music and other apps should lead to clearer and more precise playback.
From left to right: the Google Pixel C  Nexus 5X  Nexus 6P  Chromecast in black  yellow and red and ...
From left to right: the Google Pixel C, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Chromecast in black, yellow and red and Chromecast Audio, all announced 29/09/2015
Pixel C
The last major device to be launched at Google's event was a new kind of advanced Android tablet. Called the Pixel C and getting its name from the Chromebook series, the two-in-one is a clear rival to Microsoft's Surface and the iPad Pro.
Details remain somewhat light but the Pixel C will include support for a magnetically-attached Bluetooth keyboard. Unlike its competitors, including the Windows-powered Surface, the Pixel C's keyboard requires no kickstand or pedestal. Instead, it supports itself against the tablet using an extended keyboard tray design.
The Pixel C is built of aluminium and includes a USB Type-C port, like Google's Chromebooks. A unique charging method keeps the keyboard topped up whenever it is closed against the tablet display but, inevitably, comparisons will still be drawn between the Pixel C, the Microsoft Surface, iPad Pro and other comparable "professional" tablets.
The Pixel C represents the first of these that have been running Android so it may prove to be an interesting insight into the future of a more productive Android platform, spearheaded by 6.0 Marshmallow. Regardless, as with other convertible designs making their way around the web recently, it seems as though the design inspiration is still coming firmly from Microsoft and the all-metal, shiny chamfered-edges don't look as though they're going anywhere any time soon.
Google Hardware for 2016: Entertainment & Productivity
Today's event should have pleased fans of Google's own hardware. The company has released the Nexus device that many have been clamouring for, even going so far as to admit "the all-around champ is back" on its official website in acknowledgement of the many fans who have always said LG's original 2013 Nexus 5 was the best Nexus-branded phone to date.
People more interested in tablets and laptops have an all-new option to consider with Android now firmly establishing itself as being capable of powering all-day and all-night productivity. Those who would rather sit in all evening watching a film or listening to music also have new ways to do so with the launch of the next-gen Chromecast and companion Chromecast Audio.