Google held an event on October 4 that, among other things, put the focus back on machine learning and artificial intelligence. It also included new hardware announcements.
The event started off basically like a natural extension from Google I/O earlier this year, with Google’s Sundar Pichai talking about Assistant, how important he believes machine learning and AI are to the future of devices and the web, and how the company is working to bridge all of that right now, with aims to make it even better as the months and years go by.
But then it transitioned into the actual announcements, which include new phones, an in-home hub, a Wi-Fi router, and a big push into virtual reality.
Google kicked things off, after its talk about Assistant, with the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, both of which will be the first devices with built-in Assistant support. Both handsets are similar when it comes to general specifications: They both offer a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 12.3MP camera on the back, which DxO Mark has already tested and rated it with a score of 89 — the highest score a smartphone camera has obtained to date.
The main differentiator between the handsets is the screen size, with the Pixel measuring in at five inches, with 1080p HD resolution, while the Pixel XL boasts a 5.5-inch Quad HD display.
Both handsets will run Android 7.1 Nougat out of the box as well.
Pricing and availability looks like this: Pre-orders kick off today from the Google Store, with the Pixel set with a retail price of $679, and the Pixel XL priced at $769 to start. Both devices come in a 32GB and 128GB variant, and they’ll be available to pre-order starting in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany. They will launch in Quiet Black, Really Blue, and Very Silver.
The official launch will happen on October 20 in a variety of regions across the globe. Pre-orders start in India through Flipkart on October 13.
Google announced the Daydream virtual reality platform back at Google I/O, but it did so without unveiling its own VR headset. That changed today, though, as Google took the wraps off the Daydream View VR headset and its corresponding controller. The headset is lighter than the competition, and its wrapped in fabric, so Google says it will be more comfortable to wear as well.
The Daydream View will arrive at first in a Slate color, but then Crimson and Snow will launch later this year. Google has priced the Daydream View and its controller at $69, bundled together, and they will go on sale in November.
Netflix, Hulu, and HBO are partners for content to watch in Daydream. The New York Times is another painter as well, with VR-focused stories. Over 50 partners are bringing apps and games to Daydream before the end of 2016. Google will bring the “best of Google” to Daydream as well, including Google Play Movies, Google Photos, Google Maps Street View, and YouTube as well with 360-degree videos.
Assistant is by far the most important part of Google’s event today, with the platform stretching between all of Google’s new products, including Google Home. The company announced Home back at Google I/O, and they didn’t necessarily have a lot of new information to go with, but they did at least confirm a price point and release date.
Google Home will offer integration with Nest, Philips, SmartThings, and IFFTTT so you can easily control other smart devices in your home. And if you use a Chromecast with your TV, you can use Google Home to control your TV using your voice. This means that you can use commands like “pause” to pause playback on your TV. For now, this feature will only be available for YouTube, though Google is working with Netflix to add support for voice casting. You can also use Google Home to cast photos from Google Photos to your TV.
Google Home will land in retail stores on November 4, but pre-orders are live beginning today from the likes of Best Buy, the Google Store, Walmart, and many others. Home retails for $129, and Google is throwing in six months of YouTube Red (a $9.99 per month savings) for good measure.
Rumors suggested Google was gearing up to launch its own Wi-Fi router, and they turned out to be true. It’s called Google Wifi, and the company made sure to pack it with noteworthy features. That includes mesh networking, which will allow the addition of other Google Wifi routers to generally improve the wireless network within a residence or business.
Google Wifi also comes with Network Assist, which ensures owners get a seamless networking experience even while switching between different Google Wifi units. The companion Google Wifi app will allow you to manage your network easily as well. Using the app, you can easily throttle or pause Wifi network access to certain devices.
Google Wifi will retail for $129 for a single unit, and Google is going to offer a three-pack for $299 when it goes on sale later this year.
4K content, in all of its more-detailed glory, along with support for High Dynamic Range, is all the rage these days, so it makes sense that Google would want to jump on board that bandwagon. The company officially announced the Chromecast Ultra, which supports streaming 4K UHD content, as well as HDR content with support or both HDR10 and Dolby Vision.
The company says the Chomecast Ultra is up to 1.8x faster than its previous Chromecast offerings. It also comes with faster Wi-Fi to ensure that there is no bandwidth bottleneck. And in case you live in an area with Wi-Fi congestion, the Chromecast Ultra comes with Ethernet support that is built into the power adapter.
The Chromecast Ultra will go on sale in November for $69.