Yesterday we finally found out what Google has been working on for the last year at a special event called #MadeByGoogle. At an hour and a half event, the tech giant announced a number of different products. These include their very own wifi router, home assistant, VR headset, new Chromecast, and artificial intelligence or AI. They also decided to battle Apple head-on by announcing their very own phone – Pixel.
Google Assistant is a simpler way to make searches on Google, with the added help of course of Google’s new AI. It is an upgrade to the feature that most Android users already have at their disposal, Google’s version of Siri or Cortana, except smarter. You say “ok Google”, it starts listening to you and you ask it a question or give it a command.
Google improved on this by adding machine learning. Every time you speak to the AI it becomes that little bit smarter. It starts picking up on things you say and follows along with a conversation that you are having with it. The AI essentially becomes your little assistant, hence the name.
The new Assistant will be used in three separate ways, however each way will make use of the exact same Assistant. Google Assistant will work on the new Google Home, Pixel, and the new(ish) Allo. You can communicate with the assistant in three ways, but you can get a lot more out of it. In seconds, you can get answers to your questions or even do things like make dinner reservations.
The new Google Home is a smart speaker powered by the Assistant. As mentioned on Google’s website:
“Google Home is a voice-activated speaker powered by the Google Assistant. Ask it questions. Tell it to do things. It’s your own Google, always ready to help. Just start with, ‘Ok Google’.”
The entire idea of Home is very similar to that of Amazon’s Echo-but there are some major differences. For instance, Home looks very different than Amazon’s Echo. In my opinion, I prefer the new Home device. It looks slick and with customizable bases it can fit in with your other furniture easier so you don’t even know it’s a bulky piece of tech.
Home is equipped with far-field voice recognition, has multi-room capability and has a Hi-Fi speaker to make the entire experience with the device better. Google’s Home is not without it’s downsides though.
- It can only link to one account. That’s right a device that you will use in your home, more than likely where you will live other people can only be used with one Google account. So having your family/housemates using the device as well will be a challenge.
- Want to work with other smart devices? Forget it. Google Home does work with some smart devices such as Nest and Hue but in order for a company to add its services to the Home device, they will have to set up a partnership with Google.
Almost every device we own is connected to the internet, constantly downloading, streaming, and sharing information. This constant demand for a connection can slow down your internet significantly and Google believes that they have come up with a solution with Google Wifi.
Google Wifi allows you to have multiple devices located around your house no matter how big or small that gives a consistent and strong connection. This isn’t the first time we have seen this kind of tech from Google. Last year they partnered with TP-Link to create OnHub. Google Wifi is built on top of this and made better and stronger.
The routers are also controlled via an app. With the app, you can share your WiFi password and see how many devices are online. Then you can prioritize them for better performance. You can already do all these things with regular routers, now you can just do them within an app.
Without actually being able to test this product I wouldn’t be able to tell if it really works as well as they say it does so for now we will have to take their word for it.
You have more than likely heard of Chromecast in the past. Google has continued to build on this product making it easier for you to stream content from your handheld devices to a TV.
The device this year is a small hockey puck design that will fit neatly in the back of your tv. Its got the new “G” logo on the device now instead of the old Chromecast logo. There is also a magnet on the device so it isn’t hanging out of the HDMI port on the back of your TV.
With Chromecast Ultra, you can now stream 4K video to these devices. Now you may be thinking “I don’t have a 4K tv so why bother”? Well, Google has you covered there. You can stream 4K content and the new Chromecast Ultra will automatically optimize your TV’s picture.
Chromecast Ultra also loads video 1.8 times faster than previous Chromecast devices, thanks to improved Wi-Fi connectivity. Google will also include an Ethernet port, in case your Wi-Fi connection isn’t strong enough to handle 4K streaming.
Daydream View VR Headset
Google started its VR journey VR with Google Cardboard 2 years ago. Now there’s Google Daydream View.
Google has really done this right in my opinion. Daydream View looks fantastic and is made with foam and soft fabric. The headset holds on with a velcro strap that can be removed so you can easily wash it. It also only weighs 220 grams so it is lighter than its competing Samsung headset.
The VR headset only works with the new Pixel phone which I will get to in a minute, but they say it will soon be compatible with other phones that will eventually support the platform needed to use this headset.
To make Daydream easier to use, Google made it so you don’t have to connect any wires to your phone. It runs via NFC so all you have to do is simply insert the phone into the device and the chip inside the headset will automatically center the image for you.
The headset also comes with a small remote control that neatly tucks away into the headset when you’re not using it. Google claims that the controller is “packed with sensors to understand your movements and gestures.” Google partnered with JK Rowling and have created a VR game for her new book/movie “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, where you control a wand using the VR controller.
They have also partnered with the likes of Netflix and Hulu. This partnership means that you will be able to sit back and relax like you are actually in the cinema. Some popular apps have also been integrated in the VR system, such as Youtube, Google Maps and Google Photos.
Pixel and Pixel XL
Now onto the big release. Google Pixel.
Google has been in the phone market before with their previous Nexus devices. They have now scrapped the Nexus and replaced it with a completely new device that is designed and manufactured by Google. Google made it really clear that everything was “new” in their presentation as you can see in the video below.
First thing you notice is the design. It looks very similar to another product we are very accustomed to. In my opinion, I don’t mind where they were going with the design, I like it. It looks very slim and premium. It is built with and unibody metal structure and it has a glossy section on part of the back of the phone. I’ve heard this is to get rid of the dreaded camera hump that we all hate, but I do not know for certain. Pixel comes in three colors – Quite Black, Really Blue (Limited Edition), and Very Silver. This is no doubt a dig at Apple with the new color they supposedly came up with, Jet Black.
Inside, Pixel has a super fast Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB or 128GB of storage. Unfortunately the phone doesn’t come with an SD card slot, something that I feel the phone is lacking. Thankfully Pixel isn’t lacking a headphone jack and Google made damn sure we know it in their promotion video.
— nilay patel (@reckless) October 4, 2016
As most companies nowadays are doing, they have released two different sizes, a 5.0-inch Pixel and 5.5-inch Pixel XL. Very little separates the two. The two phones have different batteries, 2,770mAh in the regular Pixel and 3,450mAh in the Pixel XL. Both phones claiming that you can get 7 hours of charge in 15 minutes using the USB-C fast charging capabilities. Another thing that separates the two phones is the display. The Pixel has 1920 x 1080 AMOLED display and the Pixel XL has a 2560 x 1440 AMOLED display.
Something that has to be mentioned is the camera. Google claim that the camera is the best on a smartphone in this market, with a DXOmark of 89 beating the brand new iPhone 7. The rear camera is only a 12.3mp with f/2.0 aperture only both models, but it’s the inner hardware that boosts the camera. There is very little shutter lag making it very quick to take high quality photos.
The previous Nexus devices always came with stock Android and this phone is no different. The two Pixel phones come with the new Android 7.1 Nougat which has the new Google Assistant built into it. The phone also has 24/7 customer support so any issues that you encounter can be fixed as soon as possible.
Overall Google really killed it yesterday. They announced some pretty cool tech that I am really excited about. However, I was let down by the Pixel. If Google really wants to make a dent in the smartphone market, they need to up their game. Both of their biggest competitors have made water resistant phones. They should also have added an SD card slot. With these two additions I firmly believe that people would make the switch to a Pixel phone with less hesitation. Also what is with the massive chin on the bottom of the phone? Why leave all that extra space?
Google Assistant will be huge for the company. Being able to control multiple devices by essentially having a conversation with it is very appealing. I think the introduction of Google Assistant was brilliant. Only time will tell though if people will utilize it like many already do with Amazon’s Echo.