Following the launch of the Android O public beta, we're edging ever closer to the new operating system's final release. And that means one thing: Google needs cool new devices on which to showcase it.
Originally, it was rumoured there would be three devices: two phones and a tablet. Three codenames have been thrown around - 'Walleye', 'Muskie' and 'Taimen' - with the latter thought to be the tablet.
Now, Android Police says several sources have reported 'Muskie' has been shelved. Given that these codenames are types of fish and in the past have correlated to the size of the devices themselves, it's likely to be the second-gen Pixel XL which isn't going to make it into production.
No-one knows whether 'Taimen' is a phone, tablet or even laptop. We think - and this is speculation - that it's likely to be a big-screened phone. This seems to be the current trend, but with bezels being slimmed right down, it doesn't mean it will be a massive, unwieldy device.
The 'Walleye' model is thought to be the Pixel 2, and expected to be a Snapdragon 835-powered smartphone(s) with a curved screen. It could look something like this (via uSwitch):
As is visible in the image, the Pixel 2 is tipped to be a full-screen device with an 18:9 display. According to a GFXBench listing a device known as the Pixel XL2 has a 5.6in 2560x1312 display. We'll talk more about rumoured specifications below.
Will the 2017 Google phone be a Nexus or a Pixel?
Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google's head of Android, told Bloomberg last October that while the company wasn't closing the door completely on Nexus it didn't currently have plans for any Nexus devices. Based on this alone we would suggest the next Google phone is a Pixel rather than a Nexus.
Rick Osterloh, Google's Senior Vice President of Hardware, has also confirmed that the Pixel will get a successor in 2017.
Who will make the Pixel 2?
In the past we've seen Google phones manufactured by LG, HTC, Huawei, Samsung and Motorola. The maker of the new Google phone could be any of these partners, but equally it could be a brand-new hardware partner.
Early rumours suggested HTC is once again in position to make the phones, but an eagle-eyed spot by 9to5Mac suggests that the larger model - 'Taimen' could be manufactured by LG.
The latest reports suggest HTC will make both phones, having signed a two-year contract with Google. According to specialist blog HTC Soku the codenames S2 and M2 have also popped up within files found in the Taiwanese version of the HTC U11, which is interesting given that the Pixel X and XL were codenamed S1 and M1.
When is the Pixel 2 release date?
Google Senior Vice President of Hardware, Rick Osterloh, has confirmed that a Pixel 2 will arrive in 2017. "There is an annual rhythm in the industry. So, you can count on us to follow it," Osterloh said. "You can count on a successor this year, even if you don't hear a date from me now," Osterloh told Android Pit. Osterloh also said the Pixel 2 would retain its premium price.
Allowing for a good few months of Android O betas prior to the final release, Google phones are traditionally unveiled in late-September/early-October. The current Pixel and Pixel XL were announced at a special event on 5 October 2016, and went on sale on 20 October. We'd expect a similar time frame for the Google Pixel 2.
How much will the new Google phone cost in the UK?
Rick Osterloh has confirmed that Pixel will retain its premium pricing in 2017.
When it switched its phone line branding from Nexus to Pixel in 2016, Google moved away from high-value devices and toward more premium phones. The cheapest Pixel today costs £599, while the cheapest Pixel XL costs £719.
9to5Google suggests we should expect at least a $50 increase on this due to improvements it is making to the camera and adding waterproofing.
However, the same source also suggests Google is experimenting with a cheaper, lower-specified Pixel 2B that it hopes to launch at the same time or shortly after the Pixel 2 in emerging markets. If it goes ahead there is no guarantee we will see this cheaper Pixel in the UK.
What are the rumoured specifications?
Through 9to5Google's source we know two key things about the upcoming Google Pixel 2: it will be waterproof, and it will feature an improved camera.
Editor Stephen Hall tweeted in late-January that he recalled being told back in October that the next Google phone would be waterproof, and the fact the current model was not came down to an issue of time constraints, and the need to keep down costs. He says Google was forced to choose between upgrading the camera and making the Pixel waterproof.
The current Pixel and Pixel XL are IP58 rated, which means they are dustproof and protected against spraying water, but not submersible or water-resistant.
On the subject of the camera, Hall writes that his source has claimed the camera will be improved, not in terms of the megapixel count but in the number of extra features. Google particularly wants to focus on getting low-light photography right.
The processor also gets a mention, and Google has apparently been testing models with both Snapdragon 835 and Intel chips, but has already ruled out cheaper brand MediaTek. The Snapdragon 835 once again comes up once again in some Google code associated with 'Walleye', 'Muskie' and 'Taimen', making it appear to be the likely candidate.
'Taimen' has popped up in the Geekbench database with an octa-core processor, 4GB of RAM and Android O. It scored 1804 points in the single-core test, and 6248 multi-core. That's blistering performance, and only slightly down on the recently released Galaxy S8 and Xiaomi Mi6 flagship phones.
The aforementioned GFXBench listing also shares some key specifications; namely Android 7.1.1, a 5.6in 18:9 2560x1312-pixel display, a 2.4GHz octa-core CPU from Qualcomm, the Adreno 540 GPU, 4GB of RAM and 100GB of storage. Cameras are listed as 12Mp and 7Mp, which in our experience with GFXBench means they are probably 13Mp and 8Mp.
The video shown at the top of this page is the latest creation from Concept Creators. It shows renders of what the Pixel 2 may look like, based on speculation and rumours, as well as some suggested specifications that are in line with what we might expect from a flagship phone arriving later this year.
However, one interesting thing to note is the inclusion of a red Google Pixel 2. Does Google really have a red model planned, or is Concept Creator poking fun at its new Really Blue model with the idea of a Really Red model?
Unfortunately we won't know until more leaks and rumours appear online. It does look pretty cool, though.
According to 9to5Google, an internal document shown to the site confirm that Google will follow Apple in removing the 3.5mm headphone jack in the Pixel 2. We presume this means it will instead get USB-C audio.
There's also talk of a Samsung Galaxy S8-esque curved screen coming to the Pixel 2. According to a report from South Korea's Electronic Times, Google is investing $880m in LG Display Company so it can get hold of flexible OLED screens.
What software will the Pixel 2 run?
Android O focuses on 'fluid experiences' and vitals, with new features headlining during its first public appearance at Google I/O 2017 including picture in picture (multi-windowing mode), notification dots (long-press an app shortcut to view the notification right there onscreen), autofill (like in Chrome but now in apps), and Smart Text Selection (automatically recognises names, addresses and phone numbers so you don't have to fiddle around with selection handles; it can also suggest a relevant app).
Android O is much more streamlined than Nougat with various OS optimisations. The bottom line, according to Google, is that devices boot twice as fast and all apps run faster and smoother by default.
On the subject of apps Google is also introducing Play Protect, which installs every app on a per-device basis in order to keep things ultra-secure.
O also adds 'wise limits' to background processes such as location tracking to sensibly keep battery usage at a reasonable level.
The company noted that there were many more changes coming to the OS, which it didn't have time to talk about during the keynote, including such things as a redesigned Settings menu and Project Treble - the latter in essence ensuring all users get Android OS updates much faster.
We'll bring you more rumours about the Google Pixel 2 as we hear them.
Read next: Best new phones coming in 2017.