Exclusive: Google is planning a ‘Pixel 3’ laptop running the ‘Andromeda’ OS for release in Q3 2017
Two independent and reliable sources have confirmed to us that Google is planning a new Pixel laptop to be released in Q3 2017. The project, known internally as ‘Bison’ and by the informal nickname ‘Pixel 3,’ will likely be the first brand-new device to showcase Google’s combined Android / Chrome OS ‘Andromeda’ operating system in a laptop form factor. Bison, then, would be the culmination of years of work by Google’s Pixel team and Google’s Android and Chrome OS teams.
We are extremely confident Google plans for the device to run Andromeda. We are also confident that Andromeda is a completely distinct effort from Google’s current campaign to bring Android apps to Chromebooks, and that Bison would not be marketed as a Chromebook. Android apps on Chrome OS descended from the ARC project, while Andromeda is a much larger, more ambitious initiative that is being pursued via merging Chrome features into Android, not vice versa. As such, it would be more accurate to say Bison will run Android than Chrome OS, and could finally be Google’s internal commitment to releasing Andromeda. (This lines up with the narrative The Wall Street Journal presented in its exclusive about the merge effort last year, in which laptops were specifically singled out as the merged OS’s first big target.)
But before we get into details, let’s discuss our confidence in this rumor. Unfortunately, this one is tricky. We are unable to share any primary source materials, including renders of any hardware. We also believe Bison’s specifications, while we will provide them, are very much subject to change.Given it’s a year or more from its planned release, Bison could evolve substantially or even be cancelled – so we want to be absolutely clear when we say that specifications are not set in stone.Let alone Bison’s release being a certainty, especially if Andromeda runs into delays or the OS project sees a change of direction. But we’re going to share what we can today, because it’s just too interesting not to. And despite all of our asterisking in regard to future uncertainty, we are exceptionally confident that the information and sources we’re working from are legitimate and trustworthy. As such, we’re not assigning a number to this one – it’s just not a good fit for that system. So, let’s dive in.
Bison is planned as an ultra-thin laptop with a 12.3″ display, but Google also wants it to support a “tablet” mode. It’s unclear to us if this means Bison will be a Lenovo Yoga-style convertible device, or a detachable like Microsoft’s Surface Book, but I’m personally leaning on the former given how thin it is. Powering it will be either an Intel m3 or i5 Core processor with 32 or 128GB of storage and 8 or 16GB of RAM. This seems to suggest there will be two models. It will also feature a fingerprint scanner, two USB-C ports, a 3.5mm jack (!), a host of sensors, stylus support (a Wacom pen will be sold separately), stereo speakers, quad microphones, and a battery that will last around 10 hours. The keyboard will be backlit, and the glass trackpad will use haptic and force detection similar to the MacBook. Google plans to fit all of this in a form factor under 10mm in thickness, notably thinner than the aforementioned Apple ultraportable.
Given the MSRPs of past Pixel laptops, you might expect this is shaping up to be one costly little device, and while not cheap, Google’s planned pricing is still competitive: Bison is pegged to start at $799. As I said, the Wacom stylus would be sold separately, and Google is aiming for a retail launch in Q3 2017.