Google is preparing something big for the "Pixel universe" on May 7th, according to a recently spotted teaser image put out by the search giant.
There aren't any significant details and no major clues provided via the render -- which clicks through to a promotional video for a collaboration with Marvel on new Playmoji. Those new additions to the Pixel Playground are, however, already available as of today and rolling out via an update to the associated app on the Play Store. So the teaser seems to be hinting at something else entirely different from the underlying content.
That means this could be a sign from the company that its Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL will be announced on launched to start off its Google I/O Developers Conference. The keynote for that event takes place on May 7th and the event runs through May 9th at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California.
The Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL
The reason behind speculation that this is tied to a Pixel 3a announcement is primarily centered around previous leaks and rumors that hinted at the possibility of a purple variant of those devices. That's further bolstered by the specific shade of purple that's used in the Google logo for the image. Google's mid-range purple gadget is predicted to lean closer to iris than other hues, which would match well with the color in the logo.
With regard to what is known to be true about the incoming gadgets, Google has all but confirmed the model designations to be used but has not gone quite so far with any other details.
Leaks and various sources point to a gadget that's in the upper-end of the mid-range in terms of price -- costing anywhere from just below $400 to almost $600 depending on the source and model chosen. As the names indicate, each would be sized differently.
Both would be built from plastics instead of metal and glass to keep prices down but would ship with the similarly-featured cameras to their more pricey counterparts.
The Pixel 3a would more closely resemble the standard Pixel in a 5.56-inch format with a resolution of 2,220 by 1,080 pixels. It would also pack in a Snapdragon 670 chipset while the larger Pixel 3a XL would be a 6-inch device with a Snapdragon 710 SoC.
Backing up that hardware, rumors suggest the smaller gadget would be available with 4GB RAM and either 32GB or 64GB storage. The Pixel 3a XL is expected to land with options for either 4GB or 6GB RAM and 64GB storage.
Why now and is that the only possibility?
Typically, Google tends to showcase new advances in software and functionality -- work that's been accomplished in areas such as Chrome, Chrome OS, or Android -- at I/O. So the apparent decision comes as something of a surprise but it wouldn't be entirely without reason either.
If the company launches a set of mid-range devices at the gathering, the timing would give users who favor the Android middle-ground haven't upgraded yet a chance to get their hands on some of the best Android features at a lower cost. That would be without having to wait for gadgets in the bracket to start launching a bit later in the year.
It would come approximately halfway between the launch of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL flagships and its next-gen flagship expected to be announced at its hardware event in October. Presumably, the move would help the Pixel branding itself since more potential customers would be exposed to the term "Pixel" over a greater stretch of the year.
Another likely possibility may be that Google plans to add a serious array of diverse but helpful features to "Pixel" devices via an update to Google Assistant. That would fit in with the promotional image's "Help is on the way" tagline too and seems equally likely.
Less dramatically, Google could simply be trolling everybody when this really points to a new AR experience or Pixel-exclusive game or app, but the timeline does match up with expectations that have been set for the mid-range Pixel smartphones.