Today is the one-year anniversary of the original Google Pixel and Pixel XL. And what better way to celebrate Google’s first smartphones than with some great follow-ups? Google brought us quite a few goodies today, chief among them the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL.
Without further ado, here are the key announcements from the Google event today:
Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL formally announced!
The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are Google’s new flagships. On the inside, the two models are essentially identical, with the same Snapdragon 835 processor and 4GB RAM. Here are the key takeways you need to know about Google’s latest flagships:
- The Pixel has a 5-inch 1080p OLED display, while the Pixel XL 2 has a larger 6-inch QHD OLED display. As rumors anticipated, the XL also offers an 18:9 display ratio, following the same ‘tall display’ trend we’ve seen from LG, Samsung, and Apple.
- Both Pixels have ditched the headphone jack, though a dongle is included.
- Google Assistant is still a core part of the experience, and even includes smart features for the camera.
- Pixel 2 comes in three colors: Just Black, Kinda Blue, and Clearly White. The Pixel 2 XL comes in black or a white/black option. Both phones have dual front facing speakers.
- Both phones are Daydream ready — and there’s even a new model. Cosmetically, the new Daydream View isn’t a massive departure though it is offered in a new color. The headset is $20 more expensive this time, retailing for $99. Why the price hike? One of the new changes is a wider field of view, which should provide better immersion than its predecessor.
- Fast charging makes a return, with Google saying you can get 7 hours of charge in just 15 minutes.
- The Pixel 2 scored a 98 on the DxOMark test, the highest rating ever given. It uses a 12MP sensor with a ton of AI and machine learning features to improve the photo, reduce blur, and better low light conditions. It also has a Portrait Mode that adds bokeh to the background to make the foreground pop. OIS and EIS is available on the Pixel 2 for smoother video. They’re calling it Fused Video Stabilization. They also include a feature called Motion Photo. It takes video up to 3 seconds before the shot and then tries to make it look even more excellent.
- Some software improvements make their way to the Pixel 2 family, including Active Edge (basically the same as the HTC U11 Edge Sense feature). They also moved the Google Search bar to the bottom. And o course Android Oreo is onboard. Even better, the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will get 3 years of OS platform updates.
- Pixel 2 starts at $649 for the 64GB version. The Pixel 2 XL starts at $849 for the 64GB variant. Australia, Canada, Germany, India, UK, and the US are the available countries. You can buy on Verizon, Project Fi, and unlocked. Italy, Singapore, and Spain will get releases later this year.
Introducing the Google Pixelbook
While the Google Chromebook Pixel series never really took off, it seems that Google still isn’t ready to give up on the concept just yet. The Google Pixelbook “re-imagines the laptop experience”, at least according to Google. It’s certainly an attractive device.
Here’s the key points from the event relating to the Pixelbook:
- It runs ChromeOS with Google Assistant built-in and Google Play Store apps support. That’s about as good of a laptop as Google can make without going with a competitor OS.
- It’s 10mm thick, 1kg in weight. It has a 4-in-1 design that includes a laptop, table stand, a tablet, and a tent mode. It has the same two-tone glass inlay like the Pixel phones. 12.3″ touch screen, Quad HD LCD, 235ppi are the screen specs. Intel i5 and i7, 16GB of RAM, and up to 512GB of SSD storage. Battery claims are up to 10 hours of use, USB Type C charging, and 2 hours of use in just 15 minutes of charging. It also includes Instant Tethering with Pixel phones during conditions when you don’t have WiFi. It’s only available on Pixel phones, though. It also comes with all the features of ChromeOS. Snapchat will even work with it.
- There is now the Pixelbook Pen. It’s essentially Google’s version of Samsung’s S-Pen, but for the Pixelbook. You use it to point-and-select or circle or otherwise select stuff and Google Assistant will interact with it as appropriate. Some other specs include 10ms of latency, 60-degrees of angular awareness, and 2,000 levels of pressure sensitivity. Google partnered with Wacom for that. That’s a good thing.
- Pixelbook comes in three configurations starting at $999 (and going up) with the Pixel Pen going for $99. Pre-orders are open today. Release date is October 31st from the Google Store and most major retailers.
The nifty new Google Pixel Buds are said to have clear highs, deep bass, and more:
- It features touch controls on the right earbud. It has Google Assistant support for Pixel 2 owners. This is not included to anyone else. It also has additional features for things like Google Translate that are actually pretty awesome. That includes real-time Google Translate with support for 40 languages.
- The Pixel Buds come in three colors (the same as the Pixel). They have 5 hours of play time per charge and the case holds multiple charges. It is available for pre-order today for $159. November is the official release date.
Google Clip – a camera that automatically captures photos
Google Clips uses machine learning technology to automatically sense when there is something interesting happening in a scene, and will start recording to make sure your best moments are saved. Simply place it anywhere, and you can check back on it later to see what kind of magical moments the small piece of hardware was able to capture.
Google Home Max, Mini
The event certainly saw a lot of cool new devices, and that includes the new Google Home Mini and Google Home Max.
The Google Home Mini features features a simple design, small stature, and it can easily be placed in most rooms. The fabric was custom made by Google to let sound and lights in and out. It comes in three colors, coral, chalk, and charcoal. Essentially, light red, gray/white, and gray/black. It will retail for $49. It’s up for pre-order today and full release is October 19th in most major retailers.
As for the Max, we have a device meant for hardcore audiophiles. The Max boasts auto-tuning based on the music and space you’re in (called Smart Sound). It comes with Google Assistant is built-in too, of course. It also comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack for use with your stereo or phone. The price for the Max is set at $399 with a launch sometime in December, in two colors (chalk and charcoal) in the US. It’ll launch in other countries next year. It’s also worth noting that buying it gives you a year long subscription to YouTube Red for free.
Aside from the new hardware, Google also talked about some new assistant features and a few plans to bring some of its features to new markets:
- Voice Match is a big deal. It makes profiles of people’s voices based on tone, pitch, and other characteristics. Voice Match is rolling out everywhere Google Home is available starting today. Google is also going to allow for more complex tasks and routines. Google Home can now control over 1,000 smart home products from over 100 brands. Adjustments to those things are improving as well.
- Nest is going to integrate with Google Home and Chromecast to better control your home. Another feature is Nest Hello. It will recognize frequent visitors to your home and tell you who’s at the door automatically without asking. That’s pretty awesome. Nest products can also integrate with Google routines to do things like turning security cameras on, arming security systems, and more. It’s all pretty awesome.
- A new Google Assistant feature is the ability to broadcast messages to all Google Homes within the house. It’s called Broadcast. Duh.
- Google is also trying to make Google Assistant better for kids. The family link app released a few days ago was the beginning of this initiative. Google Assistant also has 50 new commands specifically for kids and families.
- Hands free calling coming to the UK starting this year. Good for them!
- Google Home is headed to China very soon.
Other Happennings from the event
Obviously there was a lot said today. In order to help you recap, here’s a summary of some of the other things Google talked about during the event:
- Google is going to continue with its AI-first philosophy. That includes better conversational, sensory, multi-device, contextual input that learns and adapts as you go. The key combination is AI, hardware, and software all working together.
- AutoML is Google’s automated machine learning program. It is more resource efficient and accurate than pretty much anything for tasks like object detection in images. Sundar shows an example using two kids at a baseball game. One is from the Dominican Republic and the other from South Dakota, USA. They’re communicating using Google Translate. It’s adorable.
- Google talked briefly about bringing over 2,000 HTC engineers and some IP to Google to help beef up their products.
- There are now 55 million Chromecasts around the world. Google Assistant received 100 million new answers to the search. Google WiFi is the highest selling mesh Internet product on the market. The Google Pixel did okay too.