While the company made its own hardware before, this new effort to market the Google brand comes after a decision to unify its hardware division under the supervision of former Motorola president Rick Osterloh. Hardware is what the October 4 event was all about.
From Google’s new smartphones to its new smart home offerings, here’s everything we saw at Google’s latest event.
Google Pixel and Pixel XL
The main unveiling at Google’s event was its new pair of smartphones, the Google Pixel and the Google Pixel XL. These devices feature Google’s latest and greatest version of Android, as well as a top-notch camera, fast charging, and virtual reality — features to rival the iPhone. Both the Pixel and Pixel XL are built by HTC.
The two phones look the same, however, the Pixel XL is slightly larger, boasting a 5.5-inch display over the standard Pixel’s 5-inches. They also both offer the latest Qualcomm processor, the Snapdragon 821, coupled with 4GB of RAM. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Google Pixel phones, however, is that they make use of Google’s new Pixel launcher, a version of Android created specifically for the Pixel smartphones.
Google is also taking aim at the mobile camera market, announcing that the camera on the on the device is the “best smartphone camera ever.” Of course, that remains to be seen once reviews start coming out, but it’s safe to say that Google paid a lot of attention to the camera and offering a camera that users could use to take quality shots on a day to day basis.
Apart from that, the two devices come in either 32GB or 128GB options, a USB-C port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a 5MP front-facing camera.
The standard Pixel starts at $650, but if you want the Pixel XL you’re looking at $770. Add another $100 on top of that for the 128GB versions. They’re available for pre-order starting today.
The second most important announcement at Google’s October 4 event was Google Home. While we got a taste of what Google Home would look like earlier this year, full details about the device weren’t revealed until today.
Home is basically Google’s answer to the Amazon Echo, the smart home device that features Google Assistant, the company’s new digital assistant. The device lives in your home, and can be used to do things like access information from Google Search, access information from your Google apps and services, and even control your smart home.
The device itself is small and white, but you can change the base with a variety of different color options in fabric and metal. Home offers a touch capacitive top, allowing you to control things without your voice if you so choose, as well as a mute button — in case you don’t want Google always listening in.
Home costs $130 and is available for pre-order starting today.
Google is also offering a refresh of the Chromecast streaming device, called the Chromecast Ultra. What’s new with the Chromecast? Well, the Ultra finally brings things like 4K streaming, as well as support for HDR and even an Ethernet port, which is perfect for those streaming content in 4K. According to Google, the new device also brings faster Wi-Fi components, allowing it to load content up to 1.8 times faster.
Unfortunately, all these new features come at a cost — the Chromecast’s price is being bumped up to $70. That’s certainly not expensive, and still positions it as one of the cheapest 4K streaming options out there, but it is more expensive than what we’re used to with the Chromecast, which originally launched with a $35 price tag.
Chromecast Ultra will be available for purchase later this year.
Daydream VR was first announced at Google I/O as an evolution of Google’s mobile virtual reality offerings, and it really takes things to the next level. At its October 4 event, Google showed off a number of new apps and services that can be used in Daydream, including a Harry Potter app that lets you act as a wizard. Perhaps more importantly, however, the company also showed off its new virtual reality headset — the Daydream View.
The headset is aimed at being highly comfortable, but it’s currently only available for the Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones. It’s likely that other headsets will be made available for other smartphones as time goes on.
The Daydream View, which comes with a virtual reality remote, will be available sometime later this year for $80, but if you get a Google Pixel smartphone, you’ll get a Daydream View headset for free.
Google doesn’t just want you to have Home in your home, it also wants you to have the new Google Wi-Fi router, which is a smart Wi-Fi router that includes intelligent software aimed at maintaining a decent speed no matter now many connections you have. The device includes Google’s “Network Assist,” which automatically helps avoid network congestion, and if you have multiple routers, automatically transitions you to the nearest one to ensure you have the best signal possible.
The router also has an app — which allows you to monitor and control the devices on the network. As pointed out by Google, that’s helpful if you want your kids to get off their devices and come to dinner.
Google Wi-Fi will be available for purchase later this year, and comes as a single unit for $130, or a three-pack for $300 if you have a larger house.
Article originally published in August 2016. Kyle Wiggers contributed to this report. Updated on 10-04-2016 by Christian de Looper: Updated article to reflect that products have now been unveiled.
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