Google plans to sell its own Microsoft Surface Hub alternative for under $6,000 next year

A day before Microsoft is expected to unveil a new member of its Surface device family, Google is taking the wraps off its planned alternative to the Surface Hub: Jamboard.

Google is opening up applications for Early Adopter versions of Jamboard today, October 25. Selected applicants will begin receiving their Jamboards as soon as next week, officials said. Google's estimated ship target for Jamboard is the first half of 2017.

Google plans to make Jamboard part of its G Suite, so that users will be able to integrate Docs, Sheets, Slides, and photos stored in Drive, directly into Jamboard. As of now, there are no plans to have these apps run natively on the Jamboard itself, officials said. Instead, they'll use companion smartphone and tablet Jamboard applications (for iOS, Android, and Chrome OS) to participate in Jamboard "jams," which are backed up to Google Drive. Jamboard uses Google Hangouts and Google Cast for setting up collaborations and broadcasts.

The Jamboard hardware consists of a 55-inch, 4K, 60Hz Ultra HD Touch display, which will run a variant of Android Marshmallow. (Google is not yet disclosing which processor is inside.) The device will support passive stylus and finger recognition; 16 touch points; USB 2.0, 3.0, Type C, HDMI 2.0, Bluetooth, and NFC; and comes with a built-in wide-angle HD camera, mic, speakers, and Wi-Fi.

Microsoft has been championing touch collaboration team meeting hardware, software, and services since it bought large-display vendor Perceptive Pixel in 2012.