Google Unveils "Pixel" Phones and More
Google, a company known primarily for its search engine and software, recently held a press conference in San Francisco unveiling its new hardware products. After a brief introductory skit reminiscent of the “Silicon Valley” TV show, most of the event’s time was spent with various spokesmen and executives giving information about these new offeringss.
The most notable announcement was the official unveiling of the Pixel smartphone. This device sports the latest version of the Android operating software “Nougat,” a 12.3 megapixel camera, unlimited cloud storage for pictures and a headphone jack that does not require a drill to access. The smartphones are currently available for pre-order and begin shipping on Oct. 20. The Pixel Phone, with a five inch screen and 32 GB of storage, costs $649 upfront. The Pixel XL, which features a five-and-a-half inch screen and 128 GB of storage, costs $749. By comparison, the IPhone 7 and 7 Plus have a price range of $649 for the 32 GB IPhone 7 to $969 for the 256 GB IPhone 7 Plus.
The Daydream VR Headset was also spotlighted, noting Google’s expansion into the rapidly growing virtual reality marketplace. This lightweight headset is made from a light microfiber material, uses compatible mobile devices (such as the Pixel Phone) as the screen and features a small, lightweight motion controller. The device is lined with cloth, compared to other VR devices which are primarily made of plastic, in the hopes to provide a more comfortable and affordable experience for the user at the expense of graphical fidelity. The device costs $79 and will be available in November.
Several minor products were also announced, including a multipoint router produced by Google. Named Google Wi-Fi, the puck shaped routers allow consistent and fast internet access, along with the ability to see which devices are connected and the option to block said devices. The routers are available individually for $129 or in a three pack for $299. They will be available for U.S. customers to pre-order in November and will ship in December.
There was also the announcement of the Chromecast Ultra, an upgrade to the company’s existing streaming device. The upgrade adds 4K streaming options and an ethernet port, which the original Chromecast lacked. The product will be available in November with a price of $69.
Google also shed more light on the Google Home, its voice-activated home smart device, similar to the Amazon Echo. The device features a mute button (for those who like they’re privacy) and an audio version of Google Now, named Google Assistant. Just like Amazon Echo, Google Home can be used to browse the internet or control compatible devices with spoken voice commands. The product will ship on Nov. 4 and costs $129.
Whether these products can match the success of recent Apple products in terms of sale remains to be seen.