Google unveils new Pixel 2 phones along with Mini and Max Home hubs

Home is where the Google is

It was Google’s turn to show off some new gear today. Where to start? How about Google Home, which just went from one choice to three. There’s the new Mini model, for you minimalists, as well as the new Google Home Max, a much beefier, less-round version with stereo sound. Naturally, you can call on Google Assistant using each of the models.

Next up is the Google PixelBook, a laptop-tablet combo PC with a 360-degree hinge, a 12.3-inch Quad-HD touchscreen, Intel Core i5 and i7 processors and Google Assistant built right in. There’s also a pressure-sensitive stylus in the mix.

Then it was time for the new phones, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. As expected, the phones go minimal on the bezels and maximum on the screen sizes. The phones will also ship with Android Oreo, their latest OS. Both phones have single-lens cameras.

The new Pixels will also have “always on display” technology, so it looks like Google and its phone-making partners have figured out how to keep the data showing and flowing without killing the battery in short order.

Also on display at the show was Google Lens, an augmented reality system that looks like it will take on Apple’s recent push into the AR space, but with a twist. Google Lens will also work to identify items in the photo using machine learning technology.

There’s a lot more to talk about and we have full coverage of Google’s big event.

A wide view of VR

Speaking of augmented Reality gear, Samsung has pulled a fast one on Google and has announced the HMD Odyssey headset, a “mixed reality” device that runs on Microsoft’s burgeoning Windows Mixed Reality platform, which will support AR and VR technologies.

Price is a lofty $500, but you get quite a bit of kit in the deal: the headset boasts dual 3.5-inch AMOLED display panels running at 1,440 by 1,600 pixels each, for a wide 110-degree field of view. Sound comes courtesy of a pair of spatial-audio-capable AKG headphone pods and the system also includes Microsoft’s Motion Controller handsets. There’s a built-in microphone as well.

Looks pretty trick, and you can pre-order yours today, with units set to ship early next month.

Drones clear the way forward

How will wars be fought in the future? If you think drones will be involved, you’re probably right, but to what extent, and what will they look like?

UK defense and aerospace specialist BAE Systems has been working with students at Cranfield University near London to design futuristic ,military unmanned aerial vehicles that can change from fixed-wing flight – like a plane – to rotary-wing flight, which is how most drones fly these days. But of course, these future fliers are a bit different, and the “rotary” part of the flying involves rotating the whole drone, not just the propellers.

BAE sees the spinning drones as a pre-attack countermeasure that will fly in and take out anti-aircraft weapons ahead of a flight of actual manned aircraft, if they still exist in the future at all. Then the drones fly back and land on spindles either on land, ships or even submarines.

It’s all conceptual pixels and big ideas for now, but that’s how stuff like this gets started, so keep your eyes on the skies for crazy spinning drones and check out the full video.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Close to the Metal (computers and such) on Tuesday, Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.