Google’s setting the stage for a major hardware announcement in October, but you don’t have to wait til then to see some serious signs of change. It’s something that, by all counts, should feel familiar: the annual ritual of Google unveiling its latest flagship Android phones running the latest version of stock Android.
But this year, something feels decidedly different. Look closely, and it’s obvious: This isn’t the same Google we’ve come to know over these past several years. Google has always been a reluctant hardware maker, even though its Android operating system powers more than 80 percent of smartphones around the globe. But next month it plans to launch two new “Made by Google” smartphones running a unique version of Android with new features unavailable on any other phone. How the other OEMs respond to that, if they do, will be interesting.