Not too long ago, Google was just a software company. Search and web apps, Android and Chrome. It took baby steps into the hardware scene; first partnering with companies like Samsung and LG to build phones, tablets, and Chromebooks, then coyly branching out into creating its own designs. Well, Google isn’t timid about hardware any longer. Google upped the ante on hardware and wants you to start looking at it as a hardware big-shot. In a massive 100-minute press event held in San Francisco, California, on Tuesday called ‘Made by Google’, Google introduced a total of six different devices, ranging from phones to home entertainment to virtual reality. Its entire line of products made not by hardware partners, but by Google’s own robust in-house product teams. And to top it all off, Google CEO Sundar Pichai also used the event to reiterate his vision of artificial intelligence as the key technology that will tie all those devices together, and allow everyone to access their personal version of Google.
Here are all the key announcements of ‘Made by Google’ event held on October 4, 2016:
While Google’s ‘Made by Google’ event was billed as a hardware event, the true story was the intersection of hardware and software, as Rick Osterloh, head of Google’s new hardware division, strived to point out. Almost all of the new gears coming out this year will lean heavily on Google’s nascent Google Assistant, which is basically a supercharged, context-aware, and conversational version of Google Now.
The power of Google’s computer brain is a result of all the searching you and everyone else in the world have done on Google over the years. And now the company is using all that data to build a voice-enabled personal assistant, which will debut on Pixel, Google’s new smartphone, as well as Google Home.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai took the unusual step of opening Tuesday’s big hardware unveil with a talk on the Assistant and the technology that powers it, saying that the ultimate goal was to “build each user his or her own personal Google.”
A lot of that involved technical advancements in fields like machine translation and image recognition, he explained. But in the end, only practice makes perfect. “It’s equally important to get the assistant into the hands of our users,” said Pichai. “And that’s what we are doing today.”
Google Assistant can do everything from answering basic questions to helping you identify which restaurants you might like near a movie you have tickets for, then help you book reservations and let your buddies know what’s up. It’ll even remember which services you like to use most and open music and other media in those, sidestepping rival apps.
Because Assistant’s tied to your Google account, it’ll follow you around from device to device, helping organize your life.
Pixel and Pixel XL Phones
Google has long partnered with phone manufacturers to produce its own, co-branded phones under the Nexus label. This year, Google is going one step further with the introduction of a new flagship phone, the Pixel and Pixel XL. The Pixel line of phones look like they’ll be replacing the Nexus phones and are free from any manufacturer branding. Instead, it’s “Made by Google”, as the tag line reads, with clear intent to present a device that’s as tied to Google’s identity as iPhone is to Apple’s.
The Pixel and Pixel XL are the first phones with the Google Assistant built in- just press the home button to access Google Assistant. Specs-wise, the 5-inch Pixel and 5.5-inch Pixel XL include a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, 4 GB of RAM, USB-C, Bluetooth 4.2, a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a choice of 32 or 128 GB of storage. Instead of touting those numbers, the company is pointing towards the camera as a key differentiator, with Google VP of product management Brian Rakowski telling journalists Tuesday that it is “the best smart phone camera anyone has ever made.”
Both phones have a 12.3-megapixel f/2.0 aperture camera with handy modes for HDR stills and burst shooting on the back and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera on the front. But according to DxO Mark, the sum of all those parts is actually the best phone camera of all time. With a rating of 89, it leapfrogged excellent shooters like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and iPhone 7 to land at the top of the mobile rankings. To drive home that point, Google is also giving every Pixel owner unlimited free cloud storage for full-resolution photos and 4K videos.
While the two phones are pretty much the same, the battery capacity is different. The Pixel has a 2,770 mAh battery and the Pixel XL has a 3,450 mAh battery.
The Pixel phones are available for preorder now. Pricing starts at $649 for the smaller 5-inch Pixel with 32GB of storage. That number scales up to $749 with 128GB of onboard storage, $769 for the larger Pixel XL with 32GB, or $869 for the XL with 128GB. Google gives a choice between black or silver for color, with an exclusive “really blue” option with Verizon in the US, though the latter is limited to just 32GB of storage.
Daydream View VR Headset
Google announced a new supercharged version of mobile virtual reality baked into Android 7.0, dubbed ‘Daydream’. To be able to use Daydream, you’ll need ‘Daydream View’, which is the first Daydream-ready VR headset.
Similar to Samsung’s VR in functionality, Google’s version is covered with soft microfiber fabric and feels light and comfortable to wear without ever giving you the impression that you got a big piece of plastic strapped to your face. Daydream View is “30 percent lighter than similar devices,” said Clay Bavor, who leads Google’s VR team.
Daydream is currently only working on Google’s new Pixel and Pixel XL phones, but is supposed to hold any phone that will support the platform. At launch, Daydream View will be available in one color of the headset and controller, called slate in November. However, that will change later, when the company will add red and white versions.
The Daydream View will be available for $79 and will start shipping in early November.
Google Home is essentially Google’s answer to Amazon’s Echo speaker, albeit with a bunch of additional capabilities. Google’s smart speaker comes packed with the company’s artificial intelligence and has voice activation, thus, can handle complex queries and is programmed to learn your preferences. So the more you use it, the smarter it gets. It is also touch-sensitive and can be used to play music and adjust the volume. It has three speakers, which Google calls them “extrusion speakers.” Features like “My Day” will let you see your upcoming events, reminders, weather and traffic updates. Google Home can also find things like sports, trivia, and read the news.
Google Home costs $129, and pre-orders begin today. It will become available in the Google Store, Walmart, Best Buy, and Target stores starting on November 4. The device is white, but the bottom base can be swapped out, and comes in different colors.
Thanks to its intoxicating blend of simplicity, affordability, and near-ubiquitous support from streaming media services, Google’s Chromecast won over the masses. Now there’s a pricier $70 version dubbed ‘Chromecast Ultra’ that supports the 4K resolutions. But there are few more surprises with Google’s latest dongle and they’re awesome: The new streamer supports both HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR video, and there’s an Ethernet port to handle the heavier load of data. Google Play Movies will start offering 4K content next month, joining Netflix, Vudu, and YouTube as supported 4K services.
Priced at $69, the new Chromecast drops in November.
Google’s continuing its effort to get into the home networking game with the Google WiFi router. This device bears a striking similarity to the OnHub router the company released last year. It is capable of blanketing big homes or old houses with thick stucco walls with wireless internet, thanks to its ability to combine multiple routers to cover every single spot.
You will be able to prioritize individual devices, and control it remotely, and even selectively block certain devices from the network (to give your kids an internet time-out, for example), and reset your router. Under the hood, Google Wifi supports AC1200 wireless speeds, 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks, beam forming, Bluetooth Smart technology, and more.
Google Wifi costs $129, with three units selling for $299, and will be available for pre-order in November.
WILL GOOGLE’S PIXEL AND PIXEL XL BE LAUNCHED IN NEPAL?
Highly unlikely. We don’t have any Google or Verizon or Best Buy stores in Nepal nor authorized distributor for the Google smartphone in Nepal. There are zero to none of launching these devices in Nepal officially. The only Google smartphone, which was ever launched in Nepal officially was Google Nexus 5 though Ncell partnership. We’ll let you know if any news regarding this develops.
Watch the highlights from ‘Made by Google’ in the video below by The Verge: