With Google dropping the Nexus branding from its handsets, we're starting to see the biggest shift in the company's strategy for its Android handsets since the program started in 2009. According to a new report from Android Police, Google will unveil its phones along with a Chromecast capable of 4K playback, Google Home, and Daydream VR headset on October 4.

Sundar Pichai

Android Police also notes that the upcoming Google phones will be branded the Pixel and Pixel XL. Both phones are expected to be made by HTC, with the 5.0-inch handset dubbed the Pixel and the 5.5-inch model the Pixel XL. The Nexus program provided a platform for vendors like Huawei to get attention in Western markets, and Google has reiterated over the course of the year that it will work with phone manufacturers to build its handsets: "Our plan is still to work with OEMs to make phones."

That said, previous devices in the Pixel series — like the Chromebook Pixel — were fully conceived by Google and made no mention of the manufacturing partner, which only leads to more confusion over the proposed Pixel moniker for the upcoming phones. We should know more about how Google approaches branding early next month, but for now, the Pixel XL name just sounds... clunky.

This year's Google phones will come with additional software tweaks that will see the addition of new features. Google rolled out Wi-Fi Assistant to all Nexus phones, and the company will be looking to bring more services into the fold as it tries to differntiate its products. Our own sources confirm that Allo and Google Assistant will be making their debut early next month.

Google is also expected to unveil a Chromecast that can handle 4K content, as well as the company's voice-activated Google Home wireless speaker. We'll also see the first Daydream VR headset, and hopefully more details on Google's plans for the VR platform.