Google’s Pixel Event has just concluded, and the 100-minute long “Made by Google” event marked Google’s push into hardware. While the tech giant has always been a software company majorly, the announcement of a number of new devices is the beginning of Google’s foray into the hardware territory. The major announcements include the brand new Pixel, and Pixel XL phones, which pack-in top of the line specs, an Amazon Echo competitor, in the form of Google Home. Also, there’s the new Chromecast that can stream in 4K, Google’s Daydream VR headset, as well as a router, dubbed Google Wifi. In case you missed the live stream, here is everything that was announced by the Mountain View based tech giant:
1. The Pixel and Pixel XL Phones
Google has finally started to move away from the Nexus line of Android smartphones, and has pulled an Apple, by making their own phones (actually, made by HTC), to run their own software. The Pixel, and the Pixel XL are the two variants of the first ever phones that are “Made By Google”, and are available in 3 colors, called “Quite Black, Very Silver, and Really Blue”. Naming creativity at its finest, I would say, but I kid. Weirdly enough, the phones are not water resistant.
Hardware wise, the Pixel, and the Pixel XL differ only by the screen and battery size, with the Pixel featuring a 5″ display with a 2770 mAh battery, and the Pixel XL featuring a 5.5″ display with a 3450 mAh battery, that reports claim easily lasts through a day of usage. Both the phones feature an AMOLED display, so you can expect completely black blacks, and super-bright colors. However, the 5″ Pixel comes with a Full HD (1920x1080p) display, at 440 ppi, while the Pixel XL comes with a QHD (2560×1440) display, that delivers a pixel density of 534 ppi. Either way, both the phones have sharp, clear displays. The “Pixel Imprint” fingerprint scanner is on the back of the phone, on the fused glass panel, that adds a bit of look to the devices.
Both the phones pack a 12.3 MP camera, with f/2.0 aperture, and Optical Image Stabilization. The front camera on both the Pixel, and the Pixel XL is an 8 MP shooter. So, no matter which phone you buy, you’ll get the same camera, either way. The Pixel, and Pixel XL pack the Snapdragon 821 processor, along with 4GB of RAM, so the phones should perform well, even for demanding tasks. There is no support for microSD cards, so you’ll have to make a choice between the 32 GB model, or the 128 GB model, and stick with it. Google isn’t offering a 256 GB model of the Pixel, or the Pixel XL, either, so 128 GB is as high as you can go.
On the software side, both the devices will come with stock Android 7.1 Nougat, which brings some UI changes, the brand new Pixel Launcher, and Google’s Now on Tap has been replaced with the Google Assistant.
Pre-orders for the 32 GB version of the Pixel starts at $649, while the Pixel XL will start at $770.
2. Google Daydream View
Google also launched a VR headset dubbed Google Daydream View. The headset is made out of breathable microfibre, and is meant to be comfortable for the users. Daydream View does not require any wires to sync with the user’s phone, and the touch controller (which is included, by the way), can be easily packed inside the Daydream View headset itself. Currently, the Pixel, and Pixel XL smartphones are the only ones that are listed as Daydream compatible, on the Google website, but smartphones more manufacturers will surely follow.
Google’s Daydream platform already supports a lot of great apps, and content providers, including video streaming services like YouTube, Hulu, HBO Now, etc., along with services such as Google Street View, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and Google Photos. If you’re more into playing VR games, you’ll be happy to know that Daydream supports a lot of great games as well, with titles like Need For Speed, Fantastic Beasts, and a lot more already supporting the platform.
The headset will be available at $79 in the Slate color, with Crimson and Snow coming out later.
3. Google Home
Google announced the smart Google Home speaker at the I/O conference earlier this year and the search giant has now revealed more details around the device. The smart speaker aims to disrupt Amazon’s hold on the smart speaker market, with a stunning design, along with swappable bases that come in a variety of colors. Like Alexa, in the Amazon Echo, Google Home will use the company’s own, AI powered, Google Assistant, to help users with their tasks.
Google spent a lot of time talking about all the great things the Assistant can already do, including streaming music from Spotify, queuing up Netflix videos, and answering users’ questions. Add that to the number of Google services people already use, and the fact that Google Assistant can tap into all of that information, and it’s easy to see how Google Home makes a strong case against the Amazon Echo, Tap, or Echo Dot devices.
The device features a touch panel on the top to adjust the speaker volume, and over-all, the design looks really great. Another great selling point for Google Home, is that Google Assistant uses neural networks, which means that the Assistant will get better over time, learning on its own.
Google Home is available for pre-order for $129, which is $50 lesser than Amazon’s Echo.
4. Chromecast Ultra
The Chromecast Ultra, is a great refresh to the Chromecast. It supports 4K streaming, which is great, and it comes with an Ethernet port to handle the load of data better, if needed. The design is minimalistic, and looks great. It supports 4K streaming from services such as YouTube, Netflix and Vudu, and Google Play Movies will soon start supporting 4K content, as well.
The device seamlessly integrates with Google Home, so you can ask Google Home to play Daredevil on Netflix, and the Chromecast will start playing it. That’s really great.
The Chromecast Ultra will be available in November, for $69, which is significantly higher than the $35 price tag of the last generation.
5. Google Wifi
Google also announced Google Wifi, which is practically a router, that creates a blanket of WiFi signals over your house, to ensure that there are no blind spots, or areas with low connectivity. Users can connect a number of these devices together to create a mesh of Google Wifi devices, that cover their house with WiFi signals.
The device uses Google’s Network Assist, to automatically manage, and optimize networks, while transitioning the user’s devices from one access point to another, as they move around their house. This will directly translate to better connectivity, in every room of your house, and if you want to extend the network further, all you need to do is add more Google Wifi units to your existing mesh.
The Google Wifi will retail at $129 apiece, and is available at $299 for a pack of three. Pre-orders start from November, with the units shipping in December, this year.
Like the Pixel Smartphones and Google Home?
One thing is obviously clear from the devices that Google has announced – Google wants to make a place for itself in your home, and in your pocket. The devices that have been announced are quite compelling, and for someone looking to invest in Google’s ecosystem, this might be the best time to do so. Google Home can work with Chromecast Ultra, and Google Wifi can ensure that all your devices get WiFi connectivity, no matter what room they are placed in. Plus, with the Pixel as a smartphone, Google is definitely looking to create a strong ecosystem of devices that simply work together, and give users a great experience.
So, what are your thoughts on the products that Google announced? Do you think the Pixel smartphones are worth the $649 price tag they come with? Can you see Google Home actually disrupting Amazon’s hold on the smart speaker market? We would like to know your opinions on these questions, and everything else that Google announced, in the comments section below.