Google has unveiled its hotly-anticipated new Pixel smartphones, which are branded with the Google logo on the back.
The new glass and aluminum phones come with Google Assistant included, a made-by-Google artificially-intelligent assistant that can do things like make dinner reservations through OpenTable. The devices come in two sizes, 5 and 5.5 inches, and are available immediately for pre-order, Google said.
“While Pixel’s beautiful, what really makes it come to life is how the hardware and software work together,” Rick Osterloh, senior vice president of Google’s hardware division, said at the San Francisco event, during which they heavily emphasized the importance of the Google Assistant.
The Pixel phones will come in three colors, which Google calls “quite black,” “very silver” and “really blue.” Pricing begins at $649, or $27 a month.
The phones both feature a 12.3 megapixel camera and free unlimited photo and video storage through Google Photos. Also, the device has “no unsightly camera bump,” Osterloh said— a dig at Apple’s latest smartphones, which have cameras that protrude from the device.Google also touted Pixel’s other features, like customer service built into the phone, and a quick-charging feature that they said could give it seven hours of power in 15 minutes.
Also unlike Apple’s newest iPhones, the new Pixel phones have a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Google is ready to start selling its echo of Amazon’s Echo.
Googe Home is an internet-connected speaker that uses Assistant to transform your abode into a smart home.
It will be able to perform many of the same tasks as Echo, including playing music and fielding questions about everything from the weather to what’s playing at the local theatre.
The company also gave us a look at its virtual reality headset Daydream View, which comes with a small remote and slate of exclusive content.
The new wireless motion controller for Daydream can function like a fishing rod, a steering wheel or a pointer to permit more sophisticated VR experiences.
The headset is paired with any Daydream-ready phone. For the time being, that exclusively means Pixel, but Google says more compatible phones will roll out.
Daydream is a challenge to more sophisticated systems from Facebook’s Oculus business, HTC and Sony.
Google says 50 partners are bringing apps and games to Daydream, with more on the way. Google services such as photos, YouTube and Street View maps will also come to Daydream.
The Daydream View will hit shelves in November for $79 US ($104 Cdn).
Google is updating its Chromecast video-streaming device for watching Netflix and other online video on big screens.
The new device, Chromecast Ultra, will support a higher-resolution format called 4K and work in concert with Google Home.
Google is facing competition with low-end devices. Roku just announced a $30 Express model that’s about the size of a finger, while Amazon just updated its $40 Fire TV Stick. Both of those devices come with a remote, making them suitable stand-alone gadgets. But neither streams in 4K.
The new Google Wi-Fi system will be modular — just add new components based on how your home and rooms are shaped. Software will help manage the various access points for you as you move around.
It will cost almost $130 ($171 Cdn) for the main device. A three-pack for larger homes will cost about $386 Cdn.
New devices could help Google keep its services front and centre in the battle for consumers’ attention, said analyst Julie Ask at Forrester Research.
Unlike a new mobile app or other software, she noted, it can be an expensive gamble to build and ship new hardware products. “But if you’re Google, you can’t afford to stop placing bets.”
Watch Google’s Pixel phone event in 10 minutes