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Highlights from Google's 2020 "Launch Night In"

Google held their annual hardware announcement event online this year and revealed new hardware alongside a constant stream of use cases with their existing services. Yesterday’s event, called ‘Launch Night In’, was less about new features, and instead showed a refocusing of the company on entertainment and how it can be served through Google products. While consumers have new toys to look forward to, the real winners from today’s announcements are content providers, who are seeing a more focused Google on what it does best: content curation.

Chromecast with Google TV

The event kicked off with the new Chromecast device, “Chromecast with Google TV” and highlighted the watchlist feature from their search app running on Android TV. Users will be able to add shows and movies from various different content providers to their personal watchlist which will be shown as a row on Google TV. Google TV will also offer recommendations based on the watchlist and the content users watch. The new device includes an assistant enabled remote for searching and browsing content, without the need for a device to cast from. Casting from a device is still supported, but with more focus on casting to Android TV applications, rather than a web-based receiver.

This device highlights the future of Google in the home while paying homage to its roots. Google’s Chromecast device first launched in 2013 and really put the focus on the company’s Chrome browser and the web as a distribution platform. The device relied heavily on service partners to build support for the device, with no remote or navigable UI. The new Chromecast ditches the remote-less interface and instead opts to build on top of Android TV with a remote and media-centric UI.

Google TV is what they’re calling it, and it highlights Google’s brand focus going forward as a content recommendation and curation service. Users will be able to train the recommendation engine based on their subscriptions, habits, and favorites watchlist. SEO will become increasingly important on this new platform as content providers try to get their content in front of consumers, similar in a lot of ways to serving content on YouTube.

Nest Audio

Nest Audio will provide similar functionality to previous Google Home audio devices, but with more emphasis on the audio quality, and less on the assistant. Just as voice is becoming ubiquitous on devices across brands, the assistant has become ubiquitous on all Google devices. Nest Audio has replaced the Google Home in Google’s online store. This follows and matches Google’s rebranding of the Google Home Mini to the Nest Mini. Look forward to the Google Home Max getting an update with Nest branding in the future.

Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5

A new version of the Pixel 4a was announced that shares a processor, 5G support, and a new camera with the Pixel 5. While time was spent on the quality of the camera, something that Pixel phones have been known for, camera features have historically been driven largely by software and arrive on previous models as well. Something that will set 5G devices apart is the bandwidth they unlock for video streaming. They showed off the Pixel 5 with their Stadia platform, for streaming high quality video games to a mobile device.

Key Takeaways

  1. Nest Audio is moving away from the smart speaker identity and wants to earn its place as a serious whole home audio solution.

  2. The Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 are good hardware updates backed up by Google’s growing strength as a service provider.

  3. The Chromecast with Google TV shines a light on Google’s future strategy and demands action. This device will unlock the power of Google and YouTube’s curation and content serving algorithms for paid and subscription based content.

  4. Google and Nest products reveal Google’s renewed focus on multi-modal content curation and delivery. Google’s user data has long given it an advantage in serving ads, and they’re bringing that same advantage to bear on serving media in the home.

If you’d like to learn how your brand can build an Android TV application that takes full advantage of the benefits of Google Cast as well as Google TV, feel free to reach out to us and get started building a product that people love.

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