Internet giant Google has officially launched its first smartphones, the Pixel and Pixel XL, at its annual global event in San Francisco, CA. The new phones, touted to be a high-end competitor of Apple’s famed iPhone, cost USD 649 and are available for pre-order in the US, UK, Canada, Germany, and Australia, as well as India soon.
At the event, Google also announced the 4K and HDR compatible Chromecast Ultra, its Daydream VR headset, a smart Wifi router and a launch date for the AI-powered speaker, Google Home. There was no mention of the highly anticipated Andromeda software laptop and tablet software though, much to the disappointment of fans. Following is a lowdown of the event:
Will Pixel Be The iPhone Killer?
After a long, introductory ramble by CEO Sundar Pichai who talked about Google Assistant, the company’s incredible expertise in machine learning such as image captioning, machine translation and DeepMind’s success at the boardgame of Go, the Pixel was unveiled by Rick Osterloh, head of Google’s hardware division.
Following are the features of the Pixel phone:
- Available in two sizes- a 5-inch and 5.5-inch display
- Operating System- Android Nougat 7.1 with a tweaked aesthetic
- According to Google, has the ‘best ever’ smartphone camera, which is 12MP with an f/2.0 aperture, and includes features such as smart-burst, HDR plus, low shutter lag, video stabilization and in-built Google photos. The phone has reportedly received the ‘highest rating ever for a smartphone’ from industry group DXOMark at 89, compared to iPhone 7’s 86.
- Battery life is insane with seven hours of charging done in 15 minutes
- Glass back and high-end aluminum case
- Comes in three colors- black, silver and blue (Google calls it Quite Black, Very Silver and Really Blue).
The big question- will Pixel be the touted iPhone killer? With Apple’s nearest competitor Samsung facing issues of exploding smartphones and a market where fatigue has set in regarding incumbent models (even the hype around the iPhone is no longer what it was previously), Google’s Pixel might very well be the handset to inject new life in the industry. Moreover, with such killer features and Google’s ecosystem to back it up with the latest in AI and VR, the Pixel might very well become the new rage in the smartphone market.
Google also revealed Daydream, its new VR platform that costs USD 79. Clay Bavor, who runs the company’s VR operations, stated that the new VR headset would be fully compatible with the Pixel phone, weigh 30% lighter than comparable devices and fits perfectly over glasses. That is super cool. The company will also be offering some experiences such as a ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ experience, the prequel to the Harry Potter series.
Opening up new vistas in connectivity, Google introduced its Google Wi-Fi, a Wi-Fi access point developed by the company. The new product is a white, puck-shaped router that will automatically put you on the right router and adjust to the optimal wireless channel as you walk around the house.
It also has a companion smartphone app will let you “pause” signal to any device with a tap. So like an evil dad who doesn’t want his kid to surf the internet and instead have some long chat with his parents, you can pause his YouTube time. Google Wifi costs USD 129 or USD 299 for three, and will be available for now in the U.S. only.
Google has a new dongle that allows you watch stuff on TV- the Chromecast Ultra! It includes 4K ultra-HD, HDR, and Dolby Vision support. It also comes with an ethernet port, because 4K viewing won’t really be possible on WiFi. The cost of the Chromecast Ultra will be USD 69.
The much-awaited Google Home is finally here, the company’s answer to Amazon’s Echo. Small and cylindrical in shape, Google Home brings Google Assistant in your home, has speakers that allow you to play music and has several mics that provide the ‘best in class voice recognition’. That is a very impressive statement in itself. Compared to the Echo, it has various distinguishing features, such as:
- Control and play music with your voice
- Has two streaming options- Spotify and Google Play Music
- Can answer much tricky and vague questions
- Better at searching locations in the physical world
- Super cool and incredibly creepy at organizing stuff- it can read all your mails and calendar, and offer a brief summary of the day. Perfect is you ain’t the one who gets freaked out over privacy concerns
- Smart multi-audio room and smart multi-audio listening
Google Home will launch exclusively in the U.S. for USD 129.