Google's goodies: The 9 biggest reveals from its fall hardware rollout

As expected, it was a day of delicious new devices, with Marshmallow at the center.

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Credit: Google
Tablets and Chromecasts and phones, oh my!

Google pulled out all the Android stops on Tuesday, introducing a pile of new hardware to go with its new operating system, Android 6.0, a.k.a. Marshmallow. It even revamped a few apps along the way. Here are the highlights from the big reveal, starting with a new generation of Nexus phones.

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Nexus 6P

As expected, Google announced its “most premium phone yet,” the Nexus 6P. Sporting an all-metal body and running Android Marshmallow, the phone features an 8-core, 1.9GHz Snapdragon 810 processor with 3GB of RAM and 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of storage. There’s a 5.7-inch AMOLED screen, a 12MP rear camera with laser auto focus, an 8MP front camera, and a fingerprint reader. The battery is a 3450mAh supply. The 6P, which is available now for pre-order, is available in aluminum, graphite, or frost and starts at $499.

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Nexus 5x

Google also officially revealed the LG-built Nexus 5X. The handset includes a 5.2-inch, 1080p (423ppi) IPS LCD display, a 6-core 1.8GHz Snapdragon 808 processor, and 2GB of RAM plus 16GB or 32GB of storage. You'll also find a 12.3MP rear camera with laser autofocus, a 5MP front camera, and a 2700mAh battery. Like the 6P, it runs Marshmallow and includes a fingerprint reader on the back of its plastic body. It’s available for pre-order now starting at $379.

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Pixel C

Google is jumping into the high-end tablet pool with the Pixel C. Powered by Nvidia's Tegra X1 chip (and a dedicated Maxwell GPU), and boasting the same sleek brushed-aluminum case as its Chromebook counterpart, the Pixel C has a 10.2-inch sRGB touchscreen, with a 308ppi resolution (about 4.6MM pixels) and a maximum brightness of 500 nits, and a detachable, (almost) full size keyboard. Four built-in microphones let it take full advantage of Android Marshmallow’s new voice controls.

Look for it to hit shelves around the holidays starting at $499 for a 16GB tablet and $599 for the 32GB version. The keyboard comes separately for $149.

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Chromecast

Just when you though Chromecast couldn’t get better, Google announced some speed-and-feed improvements . Flaunting a new puck-shaped design, the video streaming device now supports lightning-fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi and both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands, and features a new tri-antenna system. Together with Google algorithms that always ensure you’re using the fastest available band, the new Chromecast promises to maintain much stronger connections. It's available now in lemonade (yellow) and coral (red) for $35.

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Chromecast app

The Chromecast app has also gotten a makeover, now featuring a “What’s On” that highlights current content, a devices tab that gives any device on your home network control of the TV, and a new unified search option that finds shows by name and indicates which Chromecast-supported apps offer them. A new Fast Play feature promises to put an end to buffering delays by fetching small segments of shows you’re about to watch so they start seamlessly.

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Chromecast Audio

Even more impressive than the new Chromecast is Chromecast Audio, a music-only device that connects to a speaker or home audio system via a 3.5mm audio, RCA, or optical audio cable, and allows you to Cast music from streaming music apps to that speaker. Best of all, it has a guest mode for those times you want a friend to DJ without getting access to your network passwords. Google said it will also be adding multi-room audio sync later this fall. Chromecast Audio is available now for $35.

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Google Play Music gets family-friendly

Google also announced it is finally launching a Google Play Music family plan. For just $14.99 you can get a subscription to the music service for up to six people, an offer that matches Apple Music and beats Spotify’s plans. Family plan subscribers will each receive customized recommendations and personalizations, so there’s no danger of family feuds. According to Google, the plan will be available before the end of the year.

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Credit: Google
Android Marshmallow

After much anticipation, Google announced it will roll out Android 6.0 Marshmallow to Nexus 5, 6, 7 (2013), and 9 devices next week. Though not as expansive as the Android 5.0 Lollipop update, it brings some cool features such as a voice actions button on the lock screen that gives you verbal command of your phone. A Doze feature promises to boost battery life by 30 percent compared to earlier Nexus devices. Marshmallow also can learn your app-usage behavior and sort your apps accordingly. Check out our Marshmallow primer for a more detailed feature rundown.

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Credit: Google
Google Photos

The Tuesday event was heavy on hardware announcements, but software got its moment in the spotlight, too. The company unveiled several new Google Photos features to make searching and sharing images easier. New shared albums let others follow your photo updates or add their own images and can be used across Android and iOS devices. 

We especially liked the new labeling capabilities, which enable you to find photos based on the names of people in the picture and other contextual searches. Photos will also get Chromecast support, so you can view your pictures on the big screen.