Not willing to be outdone by Apple or Samsung, Google took to the stage to dish out the lowdown on several of their upcoming devices. Here are the details from all the gear they dropped on us.
GOOGLE PIXEL 2 and PIXEL 2 XL
Now that Google has seen what Apple’s and Samsung’s new smart phones can offer, they’ve pulled back the curtain on their own, new smartphone; the Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL. As it seems to be the case with all new phones, Google is boasting better cameras on both the front and rear that will take higher quality pictures regardless of how janky a photographer you are.
Google’s own assistant - their version of Apple’s Siri and Samsung’s Bixby - can be activated by squeezing the phone, a novel approach. They’re also pushing hard on what they call Google Lens that will allow the Pixel 2’s camera to read and react to real world information and directly translate that to useful actions for you. Rounded out with features like water-resistance, unlimited online photo storage, fast-charging and biometric security, Google’s put together some lustworthy hardware to take on the likes of the iPhone 8 and the Samsung Galaxy.
Starting at $649, pre-orders are available to buy here, with the first Pixel 2s set to make their way to customers on October 19th.
Probably the most headscratching announcement came in the form of Google Clips, a new, tiny camera that seems to function almost autonomously, using facial recognition and other software to take pictures and short videos of your loved ones automatically.
Google did tout Clips privacy functions, connecting it directly to your phone instead of the internet overall, but we still have reservations about a camera that’s controlled by some kind of pseudo AI. Considering the $249 pricetag and the fact that there’s no concrete release date for it—but you can buy here—we’ll reserve judgment on this one until we use it ourselves.
GOOGLE HOME MAX
Google’s go big or go home version of their smart speaker was obviously made with the intention of putting Apple’s HomePod and Alexa in their crosshairs. Functioning exactly as the normal Google Home speaker, the Max is more focused on fidelity and delivering quality sound from any and every music streaming service with whom Google could get a partnership.
All Google Assistant smart functions are tucked away here as well, and the Max will also benefit from the newly announced Google Assistant functions like Media Alarms, Send to Phone, a new voice option and location-based reminders.
At $349, the hefty price-tag near guarantees you’ll be able to use the Google Home Max as a replacement for even the most robust, hi-fi-focused bluetooth speakers out there. Sadly, even though pre-orders will open on November 13th and you can buy here, the Max won’t be making it in time for the holidays with a scheduled arrival date of January 14th of 2018.
PIXELBOOK AND PIXELBOOK PEN
Google has filled a niche in the past with their Chromebooks—scaled back laptops that are best suited for simple uses, like browsing the internet or checking email. The latest Chromebook from Google, going by the name of Pixelbook, is actually the beefiest Chromebook we’ve seen in terms of hardware, making it a good candidate for a highly portable solution for simple internet functions, from surfing to streaming.
The impressive design is thinner than ever before, can fold to become a tablet, and benefits from the newly introduced Pixelbook Pen that’ll give you a direct, hands-on control over your interactions with the Pixelbook. The Pixelbook has a big, bright Quad HD 12.3” screen, 10-hour battery life, touchscreen capabilities beyond that of the Pixelbook Pen and a super slim, 10.3mm body with 360 degree hinges that let you twist and bend this Chromebook any way that’s most convenient for how you plan on using it.
At $999 (and an extra $99 for the Pen) it’s the steepest price we’ve seen for a Chromebook but there’s a lot more here than before to justify the price. Pre-orders are open now to buy here, and the Pixelbook should be ready for public consumption by October 31st.
Google Pixel Buds
We’re well familiar with wireless bluetooth headphones, having relied on Apple’s wonderful AirPods for months now, but when Google enters the fray, you have to take notice. While the design and aesthetic of the Pixel Buds aren’t exactly blowing our skirts up - they look like two Chromecasts wired together and hanging out of your ears - we are impressed with their function and we’re not talking about sound quality.
What sets the Pixel Buds apart from the rest of the many, many bluetooth earbud offerings out there are their integration with Google Translate, putting them firmly in the scifi arena along with the likes of Douglas Adams’ fictional babel fish. That’s a nerd-speak way of saying that the Pixel Buds will translate as many as 40 languages on the fly, making it feasible to hold a conversation with a foreign-language speaker in real-time. It’s an unprecedented feat and one that we’re eager to try out for ourselves when we take our next stroll through Chinatown.
Fast-charging, easy-pairing, high quality sound and other Google Assistant functionality rounds out the Pixel Buds features. The Pixel Buds will sell for $159 when they become available. Unfortunately, Google hasn’t announced when that’ll be, but they’ll gladly notify you of it if you add your name to their waitlist and buy here.
GOOGLE HOME MINI
Google is looking to infiltrate your home (even more than they already have) with their Google Home Mini, a smart speaker that’ll inconspicuously sit in any room of your home so you can control smart home accessories, get information at will or just have fun calling out ridiculous demands.
The mini speaker functions exactly like it’s Google Home big brother in terms of the info it can deliver, the tasks it can accomplish and its ability to recognize multiple users from voice alone. At $49, the entry level smart speaker might end up being a candidate for install in every single room of your home. Pre-orders are available now to buy here, with the speaker itself making it into homes on October 19th.