Google launches new phones, wireless earbuds, laptops and smart speakers
Image credit: reuters
Google has launched a raft of new devices, including its flagship Pixel 2 smartphone at an event in San Francisco.
The tech giant also announced two new versions of its smart speakers as well as a new laptop, earbuds and a VR headset.
Following last year’s Pixel, Google’s latest flagship smartphone is its attempt to develop its own hardware that can compete alongside the heavy hitters in the industry such as Apple’s iPhone 8 and Samsung’s Galaxy series.
Although last year’s model is rumoured to have only sold around one million devices, a tiny number compared to its rivals, the Pixel represents Google’s ideal of how a smartphone running Android should operate.
The Pixel 2 is available in two variants, with five-inch (Pixel 2) and six-inch screen sizes (Pixel 2 XL), made by HTC and LG respectively.
While it’s no surprise that HTC was involved, considering the deal recently struck between the two companies, LG’s involvement with the Pixel 2 XL possibly stems from its experience creating edge-to-edge displays, which are not present on the smaller Pixel model.
The new Pixel phone, according to Google, has the “best camera of any smartphone” and comes with augmented reality capabilities.
An early review from respected smartphone camera analysts DxOMark would support these claims with their score of 98, higher than any other smartphone released thus far.
The phones are also water-resistant, feature super-fast charging and come with unlimited online photo storage.
The traditional 3.5mm headphone jack is gone, following Apple’s lead after that company removed it from the iPhone 7 last year. Wired headsets can still be connected using an adaptor and a USB-C charging port.
The device can also be squeezed to trigger Google Assistant, the company’s artificially intelligent personal assistant.
Prices for Pixel 2 start at £629.
Google Home Mini and Max
Google also launched both a smaller, cheaper version of its Google Home smart speaker called the Mini and a larger, more expensive version called Max.
Priced at £49, the Google Home Mini is clearly designed to compete against Amazon’s rival product, the Echo Dot. It’s an attempt to bring users into the Google Assistant ecosystem instead of choosing Amazon’s Alexa, at a time when the smart speaker market is still nascent.
The Mini has a voice-match feature that recognises up to six people. The doughnut-shaped device, which is small enough to fit in the palm of a hand, comes in three colours - chalk, charcoal and coral.
One of its key features, which is set to be rolled out in the next few days, allows the user to search for more than three million recipes and follow step-by-step cooking instructions from the smart speaker.
The Max is Google’s premium-level speaker and is packed with dual 4.5-inch subwoofers and tweeters to deliver bass-heavy music.
Pegged as a competitor to Apple’s HomePod and Sonos, the device will not be available in the UK for the time being, but will retail in the US at $399 (£303).
The £999 premium Pixelbook laptop comes with an aluminium back and a 360-degree hinge that lets users convert it into a tablet by flipping the screen over.
The device is just over 10mm thick, weighs 1.1kg and can get up to two hours of use when charged for 15 minutes.
It is also the firm’s first laptop with a built-in Google Assistant.
The Pixelbook runs Chrome OS and has the capability to run Android apps full-screen on the laptop.
For an extra £99, Pixelbook owners will be able to purchase the new stylus which features high pressure sensitivity and tilt support, allowing users to draw smooth lines and write sentences with “virtually no lag... like a pen on paper.”
Users can also trigger Google Assistant to search for items by simply circling the words or images on the screen.
Google Pixel Buds
Google has followed Apple and ditched the headphone jack in its new devices, instead selling wireless earbuds for a hefty £150.
The Pixel Buds most intriguing feature is their ability to translate speech in real-time using Google Translate.
Users can ask Assistant to “Help me speak [a language]” and then start speaking in their native tongue.
Their words will then be translated to the language of choice and projected through the phone's speakers.
The other party’s reply will then be picked up and played back through the Pixel Buds.
They come with a charging case and go on sale in November.
Lastly, Google introduced a biscuit-sized camera that can be clipped on to clothing.
The device, dubbed Google Clips, uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to recognise faces and look for interesting moments to take photos of.
Google’s senior VP for hardware Rick Osterloh wrote: “Google Clips is a totally new way to capture genuine, spontaneous moments - all powered by machine learning and AI.”
“This tiny camera seamlessly sends clips to your phone and even edits and curates them for you.”