AI takes centre stage in Google’s Pixel smartphone and Home speaker

Image credit: google pixel home chromecast daydream

Google has revealed a new flagship smartphone dubbed “Pixel” which pushes the company’s advances into artificial intelligence (AI) by integrating a smart assistant that can be accessed from any screen.

It also introduced a range of new products aimed at creating a smart home with Google Home, a voice-controlled speaker that can be used to manage and control other smart appliances and answer questions, at its centre.

This included Google WiFi, a new system of small WiFi receivers placed around a home to build a network that will improve signal.

The Pixel has “Google Assistant” built into its software, the firm’s artificial intelligence program which is designed to understand context in conversations and help with tasks.

The new phone comes in both a 5in and 5.5in size, the latter known as the Pixel XL and houses what Google described as the “best smartphone camera ever made”. It is also the first device to be built to work with Google’s new Daydream virtual reality platform.

Users will be able to access the Assistant AI program from any screen on the device, and it will be able to understand context.

Google chief Sundar Pichai said the Pixel marked the beginning of a new era in computing and smartphones.

“We’re at a seminal moment in computing,” he said.

“We’ve always had big shifts in computing in every 10 years or so. It began in the 1980s with personal computers. In the 90s the web arrived, and it was the biggest platform shift ever.

“Ten years later in the mid-2000s, we had the smartphone revolution. Now the shift continues. We are evolving from a mobile first to AI first world.”

The Pixel will start at £599 in the UK, with the larger Pixel XL at £719.

Google also revealed the first virtual reality headset for its new Daydream VR platform, Daydream View which is finished in fabric unlike rival products.

The new headset is powered by placing the new Pixel smartphone into it, though Google did also confirm that future Android phones would also come with Daydream support.

It will enable users to watch YouTube videos and access Google Maps in virtual reality, as well as play games.

The headset is also supported by a companion controller that can be used as a remote as well as a way to write and draw in virtual reality.

The tech giant’s popular Chromecast streaming device has also been updated to now support 4K definition for the first time, as well as high dynamic range (HDR) content, which offers better picture quality.

The new Chromecast Ultra will cost £69 when it launches later this year.

Google Home and WiFi are yet to be given UK release dates, though the tech company did confirm plans to bring both systems to British customers in the future.

In September, Google abandoned its plans to release a modular smartphone with interchangeable components with internal sources saying the company was trying to streamline its hardware efforts. 

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