Google held a major launch event on Tuesday that was packed with information about its new devices and software. In case you missed it, here’s what you need to know about all things Made by Google:
Google Assistant – Google introduced a new virtual Assistant to combat Apple’s Siri. Google Assistant is essentially Google Now on steroids and uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to facilitate a natural “two-way dialog” with users. Google Now takes a conversational question and answer approach to getting things done, and notably can remember contextual information to help take the right action more quickly in the future. Additionally, Google Assistant can interact with third-party apps to get things done.
Some of Google Assistant’s capabilities include searching for music and concert tickets, making restaurant reservations, calling an Uber and answering questions, as well as more standard-fare assistant tasks like setting calendar appointments.
Google Assistant will come baked into the company’s new Pixel smartphone as well as its Google Home system.
Pixel Smartphone – As we noted in a recent post, Google came out swinging at Apple with its new Pixel smartphone.
Just like Apple and Samsung’s flagship devices, Google’s Pixel comes in two different sizes: a 5-inch standard version and the 5.5-inch XL model. The device also boasts an aluminum unibody in three color options, an AMOLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chip, a quad core processor, 4 GB of RAM, a fingerprint sensor, 32 GB and 128 GB memory options, an 8 mp front camera and a powerful 12.3 mp rear camera with image stabilization and quality low-light shooting. The Pixel also includes quick charge capabilities that provide 7 hours of battery life on 15 minutes of charge.
Unsurprisingly, the device is set up to run on Google’s latest Android Nougat operating system, but will also include some other special Google features. Some of these include the aforementioned Assistant, compatibility with Google’s new Daydream View virtual reality headset and 24/7 customer care with a screen share option to resolve device issues.
The Pixel is available exclusively through Verizon among U.S. wireless carriers, but unlocked versions of the device are available in the Google store starting at $649. Pre-orders for the device are currently being accepted.
Daydream View VR Headset – Google also served up some competition for Samsung’s Gear VR with its Daydream View headset.
Designed with comfort in mind (looking at you, glasses wearers), the Daydream View comes in a variety of fabric color choices and includes a remote control that can be nested in the headset when not in use.
Daydream View is also designed to be used with the Pixel for a mobile virtual reality experience.
The headset is slated to retail for $79. Pre-orders will open on October 20 and will go on sale in the U.S. at Best Buy, Verizon and the Google Store in early November.
Google Wi-Fi – Google is also jumping into the Wi-Fi space with its new Google Wi-Fi routers.
Designed to function as an expandable, customizable home Wi-Fi network, Google Wi-Fi allows users to increase coverage by adding multiple access points around the home. The system also includes Wi-Fi management through a Network Assistant app and smartphone software that allows, for example, parents to block Wi-Fi access for their kids’ devices during family time.
Google said it will offer its Wi-Fi system as a single pack for $129 or a 3-pack for $299 for homes that need more coverage. Pre-orders will start in November, and the device will become available in December.
Google Home – Not content to put pressure on Apple and Samsung, Google also took a swipe at Amazon’s Echo on Tuesday with its introduction of Google Home.
Google said Home will feature a format similar to that used by Echo – that is, a wireless microphone and speaker unit that listens for and audibly responds to voice commands. The company said its Google Assistant technology mentioned above will play a key role in bringing Home to life, for example through a new “My Day” feature that briefs users on weather, traffic conditions and scheduled events for the day.
Additionally, Google said it has partnered with companies like Nest, Samsung, Phillips and IFTTT to make Home compatible with smart home devices. The station will also integrate with Google Chromecast (Google is offering a free six month YouTube Red trial) and will soon support Netflix viewing.
Google Home will come in six different color options, and cost $129. It is available immediately via the Google Store today and will ship on November 4.