Google’s big 10/4 event was yesterday. As expected a few big announcements were made. We break them down and summarise them for you here.
The event was opened by Sundar Pichai the CEO of Google. The core message in his introduction was we have undergone a technological revolution every 10 years since the advent of the computer. Starting in the 80s with the personal computer, the 90s with the world-wide web, the 2000s with cell phones and we are now ready for the next revolution. The next revolution according to Google is Artificial Intelligence. This led to the theme of the 10/4 event, Made by Google. Sundar believes the time is right for hardware and software to converge into unobtrusive technology.
So to start with the least surprising announcement of the evening, the Pixel phone. Pixel is the handset Made by Google but really made by HTC 🙂 The Pixel is the Nexus upgrade, gone are the days of the cheap Google handsets. The Pixel is the first handset to have the Google Assistant (more about this later) baked into the device. The key hardware features of the Pixel are:
Hardware; the key features of the Pixel are,
- 821 Snapdragon process (quad-core 2.15Ghz and 2.16Ghz)
- 4GB of RAM
- 32 or 128GB of storage
- 5 inch display for the Pixel
- 5.5 inch Quad HD display for the Pixel XL
- The best smart phone camera rated 89 in DxOMark
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- Pixel has a 2,770mAh battery and the Pixel XL has a 3,450mAh
- No expandable storage
We will let the picture do the talking with regards to the colours available. Maybe they are a compliment to the iPhone /s
Storage; the Pixel comes with unlimited cloud storage from Google for all your pictures and videos in their native resolution. This includes any 4K videos you may record. Without expandable storage, users will have to make do with the 32GB or 128GB built into the phone for non-photographic content.
Support; the phone comes with 24/7 live support by Google ensuring you can get help when you need it. The phone also comes with a screen mirroring option to help Google support see what you are seeing and work around the problem. The support does need the phone working with network connectivity to work. Maybe you need 2 Pixels, one for support?
Price; the phones are definitely premium and have shaken off the low-cost quality Nexus tag line. The Pixel will start at $649 for the smaller 5-inch Pixel with 32GB of storage, available for preorder now on the Google store. The price increases to $749 with 128GB of onboard storage for the Pixel and $769 for the larger Pixel XL with 32GB, or $869 for the XL with 128G. The iPhone 7 is giggling in Foxconn, a phone for $869? Maybe headphone jacks are now retro and expensive?
Google Home is the company’s foray into home automation and entertainment. This is not the first time we are seeing the move from the company into the home. The new Google Home uses Google Assistant to have greater contextual awareness. Contextual awareness is understanding the naturally spoken word whether for searches or tasks. What that simply means, is Google wants you to speak naturally, and have the Google Home understand you, and not speak to it like a 2-year-old and hope it understands.
Google have understood that the Home will be an accessory in people’s houses and must fit in. To address the needs of the home aesthetic it comes with an easily removable base. Alternative bases come in either metallic or material finishes. There are 3 metallic and 3 material finishes, and since it is a passive part you can swap it out as many times as you wish. It is deja vu, do you remember swapping cell phone covers to match your personality, wardrobe, team, etc?
Google says it has worked hard with partners in the smart home industry to enable the Google Home to control partner devices. Partner devices include Nest thermostats and smart LED bulbs from Phillips. It will also control your TV or home audio system if that has a Chromecast installed. The goal is to unify the control of your smart home under the Google Home appliance. The Google Home will retail for $129.00 and include 6 months free access to YouTube Red.
Chromecast Ultra; the Chromecast has been around for a while. The latest iteration follows the natural progression to Ultra HD and 4K streaming support. The latest Chromecast will work with your Google Home to allow you to change channels or Netflix binges by speaking to it. The Chromecast Ultra will retail for $69.00.
Google WiFi; according to Google we do not use WiFi in the way our current home routers are built to provide it. That is multiple streams in multiple locations, with each streaming being multiple megabits (one day…..). To solve this Google have come up with a home WiFi router solution built around multiple individual routers that work as a single unit. It is mesh WiFi, Made by Google, nothing new.
The units come with Google’s WiFi Assistant to ease setup. It will allow control of the WiFi by parents desperate to get their teenagers talking to humans again! A single router will cost $129.00 and a three pack is $299.00
Daydream is the VR solution from Google that works with the Pixel handset. The Daydream is the grown up version of Google cardboard with great design and aesthetics. Daydream is built to be comfortable and worn for hours.The design has also thought of those who wear spectacles, they too can wear the daydream and enjoy VR. The impressive part about Daydream is not the hardware but the VR offering that comes with Pixel.
The team worked with Warner Brother’s and J.K. Rowling to bring the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to the daydream VR platform and the previews looked exceptional! If you into a more educational experience they also worked with the Natural History and Science Museum in London to bring the dinosaur exhibition to life with 360degree views. It does not end there! With YouTube they have launched thousands of immersive videos with 360degree views including tours on Google Earth to several tourist destinations. The only phone listed as compatible with the Daydream is the Pixel. The Daydream will retail for $79.00 and be available in 3 colours; slate, snow and crimson.
She was the bell of the ball. She was the princess who unfortunately spend too much time on the dance floor with each of her suitors, the Pixel, the Chromecast Ultra, Google Home and Google WiFi we almost didn’t get enough time to find out enough about her.Do I sound impressed? Yes, I am.
Google Assistant’s tagline is the personal Google for you. That is a big claim. The goal of the personal assistant is to help you with everything, except work…yet. The short introduction video from Google demonstrates how Google Assistant can help you from remembering your pin to booking a dinner reservation.
Google has improved machine level translation ensuring sentence-level translations from the current phrase-level translations. The result is human sounding translations. To build on the translations Google’s Artificial Intelligence WaveNet will allow the system to understand multiple voices and accents allowing it to differentiate between dialects. As part of Sundar’s presentation, he showed an image of recent searches in Google Allo, these ranged from the mundane to the existential.
The ability and the potential of the computing power that is Google. With a knowledge graph 70 billion facts there is very little they do not know. Scary? A little. I am sold on Google Assistant and the hardware is not bad…now to wait for cheap connectivity.
All the prices listed are for Google’s US store. The slated release for all products in November. I do not know when they will be available in the Zambian play store. That said you can use your favourite courier company, Mercury, DotCom, etc!
Images credit of Google