Everything Google Announced at Its October 4 Hardware Event

Google hardware event
Courtesy of Google

Google upped the ante on hardware Tuesday with a massive fall launch event that saw the introduction of a total of six different devices, ranging from phones to home entertainment to virtual reality. And if that wasn’t enough, Google CEO Sundar Pichai also used the event to reiterate his vision of artificial intelligence as the key technology that will tie all those devices together, and allow everyone to access their personal version of Google.

Here are all the key announcements of Tuesday’s event:

Pixel Phone. Google has long partnered with phone manufacturers to produce its own, co-branded phones under the Nexus label. This year, Google is going one step further with the introduction of a new flagship phone that doesn’t come with any manufacturer branding. Instead, it’s “made by Google,” as the tag line reads, with the clear intent to present a device that’s as tied to Google’s identity as the iPhone is to Apple’s.

Spec-wise, the Pixel phone is clearly a flagship device, with a fast quad-core processor, 4GB of RAM and up to 128 GB of storage. But you won’t hear Google emphasize those numbers. Instead, the company is pointing towards the camera as a key differentiator, with Google VP of product management Brian Rakowski telling journalists Tuesday that it is “the best smart phone camera anyone has ever made.” To drive home that point, Google is also giving every Pixel owner unlimited free cloud storage for full-resolution photos and 4K videos.

The Pixel Phone comes in two screen sizes, 5 and 5.5 inches, and is available for pre-order now on Google’s website for $649 and up, with devices shipping on October 20. It’s also being sold as a carrier exclusive to Verizon customers.

 

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Google Home

Google Officially Introduces Google Home, a $129, Smart, Wi-Fi-Powered Speaker

Google Home. This is essentially Google’s answer to Amazon’s Echo speaker, albeit with a bunch of additional capabilities. Not only does it work in conjunction with Google services like the company’s calendar, but it also connects to consumers’ existing Chromecast streaming adapters, essentially becoming voice control for audio and video streaming in the home.

Google Home costs $129, and will come to retail stores in early November.

Chromecast Ultra. Google introduced a new 4K version of its popular Chromecast streaming stick Tuesday. Chromecast Ultra, as the device is being called, looks pretty much like the existing Chromecast, but is capable of 4K and HDR streaming to TVs that support it.

And because 4K does use a lot of bandwidth, Chromecast Ultra also comes with an Ethernet port that’s integrated into the device’s power adapter — it’s basically like the Ethernet adapter that Google has been selling separately for its existing Chromecast adapters. Chromecast Ultra costs $69, and will come to stores and Google’s online store in November.

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Daydream View

Google Officially Unveils Daydream View Headset for Mobile Virtual Reality

Daydream View. Google’s new phones are the first devices to support the company’s new mobile virtual reality technology dubbed Daydream, which has been baked into the latest version of Android. But to actually use Daydream, you’ll also need a headset like this one.

Daydream View is functionally similar to Samsung’s Gear VR in that it uses a phone as a display, but otherwise, the two headsets couldn’t be any more different. Google’s version is covered with soft fabric and feels light and comfortable to wear without ever giving you the impression that you got a big piece of plastic strapped to your face.

Daydream also comes with a small external clicker remote that has a few buttons as well as a touch pad, which helps to play VR games and navigate through menus while using the headset. Daydream View costs $79, and will start shipping in early November.

Google Wifi. Google has made routers before, but this one is different: The company’s now router, simply called “Google Wifi,” can be used to blanket big homes or old houses with thick stucco walls with wireless internet, thanks to the capability to combine multiple routers to cover every single spot.

This is how companies have been using wireless internet for a long time, but now, Google is giving it a home networking twist: Consumers will be able to prioritize individual devices, and even turn off their children’s internet access when it’s time for homework.

Google Wifi is using many of the same tech that Google has pioneered with its OnHub routers, and users will be able to add a Google Wifi router to extend the reach of an existing home network powered by OnHub. Google Wifi costs $129, with three units selling for $299, and will be available for pre-order in November.

Google Assistant. This one you actually won’t be able to buy — or not on its own, anyway. Google has long worked on making information discovery more personal, and this work now culminates in the Assistant as a kind of personal helper. Think Siri or Alexa, if you will, but made by Google.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai took the unusual step of opening Tuesday’s big hardware unveil with a talk on the Assistant and the technology that powers it, saying that the ultimate goal was to “build each user his or her own personal Google.

A lot of that involved technical advancements in fields like machine translation and image recognition, he explained. But in the end, only practice makes perfect. “It’s equally important to get the assistant into the hands of our users,” said Pichai. “And that’s what we are doing today.”

Google’s Assistant is what’s powering many of the voice interactions with Google Home, and buyers of Google’s new Pixel phones will also have direct access to the assistant.

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