Just after coming of age (it just turned 18), Google on Tuesday announced a slew of new devices including Pixel smartphones, Google Home -- products that come with the company’s artificial intelligence -- Google Assistant.
“Google is now moving forward from a mobile-first platform to an artificial intelligence-first platform. And the culmination of all the efforts is the Google Assistant,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said, before he kicked off the keynote speech at Ghirardelli Square Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco, California.
“The Assistant will help Google design a personal Google for everyone,” he added just seconds before announcing the launch of Google’s latest smartphones -- Pixel and Pixel XL.
Starting at a price of Rs 57,000, the Pixel smartphones will come in two screen sizes -- a 5.5-inch and a 5-inch variant. The phone will be available in two colours - Quite Black and Very Silver with memory configurations of 32GB and 128GB sizes.
“Interest free EMI programs and attractive upgrade offers will be available in India. Pixel users will have access to a toll free phone support number along with 54 walk in service centres across 30+ cities in India,” the company said in a statement.
The Pixel phones, protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4, will come with Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor along with a 4GB DDR4 RAM unit. In terms of camera, the phones will sport a 12.3-megapixel rear camera. Other specifications include a 2,770 mAh and 3,450 mAh battery options, latest Bluetooth module, USB Type C and 3.5 mm headphone jack.
In the rear, the phone features Pixel Imprint, the fingerprint sensor. “The Pixel is powered by a battery that can charge up your phone for up to seven hours in just 15 minutes,” Sabrina Ellis, a Google executive, said.
However, the phone will come with Google Assistant that is expected to aid users to have a natural conversation with Google to find answers or get things done on the go.
“Say ‘Ok Google’ or touch and hold the Home button and the Assistant is ready to help. Ask it for a brief update on your day or to play a video on YouTube. Look up traffic on the way home from work, find photos or when the nearest pharmacy closes. The Assistant can also offer help with what’s on-screen in any app. So if your friend texts you to meet up at a new restaurant, you can just say ‘navigate there’”, a spokesperson explained.
Pixel smartphones will also ship with the latest Android operating system, Android 7.1 Nougat. Pixel Phones will get software and security updates as soon as they are available, directly from Google. “The update process too has been made easier. When a new update is available, it can download and install in the background, so users no longer have to wait for the phone to update,” the spokesperson added. The phones will also come with Google Duo and Allo pre-installed.
The Mountain View-headquartered company also launched its latest Chromecast device called Chormecast Ultra. Along with supporting 4K content, which Google is going to roll out under Play Movies app, it promises superior image quality. The product will retail for $69 from November.
The company also showcased network assisted Google wifi.Network assist works in the background to provide seamless connectivity. It also comes with an app which can control the routers for parental guidance. Google wifi will retail for $129 for single packs and $299 for larger homes and products will start shipping in December.
Along with wifi, the Sundar Pichai-led firm also launched a new VR headsest-- Daydream VR along with a controller. The controller can just snug into Daydream headset (anti-loss). It showed off a JK Rowling-based fantasy game. Users can be the wizard with the controller turning into a wand. Another game which lets users explore the solar system was also showcased. “Netflix, Hulu and other apps are bringing their libraries to Daydream. The VR headset can also access Photos and can take users to different locations to explore just like the Taj Mahal,” a spokesperson said.
In order to compete with rival Amazon’s Echo that uses Alexa, Google launched Home -- a product which it had showcased at the Developers I/O conference in may. The product, which comes with the power of Google Assistant inside, will be available for $129 in six colours.
“Google Home supports multiple music services. You can play Google Play Music stations by voice, too. Search also comes in-built. It can play news, podcasts and other files. It can take support of Cast Audio as well letting users stream music from smartphones,” Rishi Chandra, a top Google executive said.
“Google Home can take advantage of featured snippets. It reads out the answer to a query and mentions which site it is quoting. Search algorithm takes the most authentic sites to quote. It can take advantage of information on the web (via Maps) and read out local traffic and weather conditions. It can take advantage of speech recognition and translate to teach users phrases,” he added.
The Home can create a shopping list via voice commands as well and can connect with Next, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, and IFTTT.
However, Google Home, wifi and Daydream VR headset may not be available in India soon. The Chromecast Ultra is expected to come to India soon. The company has not yet announced India prices for any of this products.