Google Debuts Two New Chromecasts, Pushes Fingerprint Payments

Also Introduces a New Tablet and Two New Nexus Phones

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The new phones feature fingerprint recognition connected to Google's new Android Pay system.
The new phones feature fingerprint recognition connected to Google's new Android Pay system. Credit: Google
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Google on Tuesday introduced two smartphones, the Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P, that will use new fingerprint-reading software to let owners make mobile payments with just a touch on the back of the devices.

From Apple Pay to Samsung Pay and, most recently, Android Pay, systems to replace consumers' wallets are becoming key weapons in the smartphone wars.

Google's latest phones, which were introduced at Google's Android conference in San Francisco, will run on the latest Android operating system, Marshmallow. The company said the technology was fast enough to read a fingerprint in 600 milliseconds out of the box and improve on that over time.

The new phones further the growing trend toward fingerprint authentication for private information such as payments. It also shows Google is moving away from Google Wallet, its other mobile pay solution.

The Nexus 6P is 5.7 inches, or about the same size as an iPhone 6 Plus, and has a starting price point of $499 for a 32GB model. It features a 12.3 megapixel camera and is capable of shooting 4K and slow-motion videos. The 5X, meanwhile, includes the same features, but has a 5.2-inch screen, a 12-megapixel camera and a starting price of $379 for a 16GB model.

Google has released a new iteration of the Nexus every year since 2010, trying to improve its technology and influence the market, even though its phones have never captured a large enough market share to really demand it.

With the latest pair, the company is also signaling its continued interest in prepaid cellular service. Both give consumers more options for Google's prepaid Project Fi, which is only available via invite and requires a Nexus. Plans charge $20 for unlimited calls and text plus an additional $10 for each gig of data used, with money refunded for unused data.

The phones are available for preorder via the Google Story now and will ship sometime in October, the company said.

Chromecast Audio
On another front, Google introduced two new versions of its Chromecast gadget, which debuted in 2013 as a stick that let consumers stream video from smartphones and tablets to their TVs.

While priced modestly at $35, the original Chromecast was considered slow by many users. Google upgraded the streaming speed for its two new Chromecasts, one for streaming video and a second for streaming music to speakers, but held the price at $35.

The move comes about a week after Apple debuted its first significant upgrade to Apple TV in several years, adding gaming and improved search capabilities but at a price of $140.

The new Chromecasts will feature a round hub to house the motherboard and a short HDMI cord or an audio jack, depending on the model, making it easier to plug the devices into TVs in tight spaces.

The company said it had sold more than 20 million original Chromecasts since its introduction.

The new Chromecast Audio can plug into a speaker and play music from a user's phone.
The new Chromecast Audio can plug into a speaker and play music from a user's phone. Credit: Google

New tablet for the holidays
Finally, Google described a so-called convertible tablet called the Pixel C that will feature an Android Marshmallow operating system and work as a laptop substitute more or less like Microsoft's Surface Pro.

The Pixel C, which will be released in November, includes a 10.1-inch screen and a detachable keyboard that connects via Bluetooth and charges when the device is closed. Even without a kickstand like the Surface offers, the Pixel C can be adjusted between 100 degrees to 135 degrees using the keyboard as a base. It has a starting price of $499 for a 32GB model.