Google signaled to the world its future direction this week, announcing new products for your daily life. A change from its focus on services, such as Maps, Gmail and Chrome, Google is introducing hardware that utilizes its services across platforms.
Google’s announcements of new products, including a phone, smart speaker, Wi-Fi router, video streaming device and virtual reality viewer, will bring new hardware and software together.
A new voice assistant, Google Assistant, will be included in many of these devices to recognize your voice, obey commands, translate phrases and perform tasks.
Google announced its newest phones, Pixel and Pixel XL, that will run Nougat, the latest version of Android, and will be updated automatically. Google Assistant will be included with these phones so you can say a command phrase (“Ok, Google”) or press and hold the home button to speak your commands.
The phone comes in two sizes, 5 in for the Pixel and 5.5 in for the Pixel XL (12.7 cm and 14 cm), with two storage options, 32 or 128 GB. Colors include Very Silver, Quite Black and a limited edition Really Blue.
Google Duo, a video chat app, is also included with the phone.
This video shows Pixel in action:
The rear camera on Pixel is 12.3 MP and has been rated by DXOMark as the best smartphone camera available, with a score of 89. (Note that the cameras of the iPhone 7 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S7 have not been rated by DXOMark.)
You can take advantage of the camera’s features with a unique offer from Google Photos. Owners of Pixel phones get unlimited storage for photos and videos at full resolution in Google Photos.
The battery of the Pixel can be charged rapidly, giving 7 hours of power after 15 minutes of charging.
Pixel comes with a traditional headphone jack, unlike the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, and will be compatible with Google’s new virtual reality viewer, Daydream View (more on that below).
In case you’re thinking of switching to Pixel from an iPhone, Google is including a transfer cable in the box to make the transition easier.
The phone is available for pre-order now in the US, Australia, Canada, Germany, and UK, and October 13 for India. In the US, the phone is being sold by Verizon and at the Google store beginning at $649.
Google announced a smart speaker called Google Home that uses Google Assistant to respond to your commands and works much as Amazon Echo works with Alexa.
Home works as a speaker to play music from Google Music, YouTube, Spotify, Pandora and TuneIn. You can set your favorite music service as a default so that you don’t have to tell Home each time which one to use.
Google Assistant can help you figure out which song you want to hear, so you can ask for “the Sia song from Zootopia” instead of saying the title.
This video shows what Home can do:
Home has a My Day feature that can give you an overview of your day. Google Assistant can tell you the weather forecast, traffic to work, calendar appointments and upcoming travel plans.
You can use Home to send notes and reminders to your Pixel phone and send videos to your TV via Chomecast.
Home can also help you control your smart home with voice commands to your Nest thermostat, smart lightbulbs and other devices linked via IFTTT.
If you have multiple Homes, the devices can connect to play music throughout your house. Home will figure out which one is closest to you by the volume of your voice so that only one will respond to your commands.
Home has interchangeable bases in different colors, in metal and fabric. The price is $129 for pre-orders now with shipping on November 4.
Google wants your Internet connection to be the best it can possibly be and is launching a new router, Google Wifi. This router helps you connect to Wi-Fi throughout your house. You can get multiple units that link to each other to eliminate dead spots in remote rooms.
You can also use the companion Google Wifi app to control Internet connections in your home.
The example was given of calling your daughter to dinner when she’s busy watching a YouTube video. You can disconnect her Internet connection by using the Google Wifi app and then have a (pleasant?) meal with her.
Google Wifi automatically determines which channel offers the best connections and switches devices to optimize Internet speeds.
This video shows Google Wifi in action.
Google Wifi is available for preorder in November with shipping in December. A single unit, covering a house of up to 1500 sq ft (139 sq m), is $129. A three-pack, covering up to 4500 sq ft (418 sq m), is $299.
Chromecast, Google’s video streaming device, has been upgraded to Chromecast Ultra. This new unit has 1.8 times faster playback than the older models and allows videos to be streamed in 4K, Ultra HD, and HDR.
Chromecast Ultra is demonstrated in this video:
Chromecast Ultra will go on sale in November for $69.
Daydream View is Google’s new virtual reality viewer, a distant relative of Google Cardboard, that works with the Pixel phone to show you virtual reality videos and games. Open the flap, drop your Pixel phone in the slot and the phone automatically connects with the viewer, including calibrating the angle of view.
Google said it worked with clothing designers to make the headset comfortable to wear. The device is covered in fabric and available in snow, slate and crimson colors.
This video introduces Daydream View:
Included with Daydream View is a remote control to help you scroll through menus or play games. The remote connects wirelessly to the headset and senses your movements so you can interact with what is being shown on the screen. The headset includes a slot to store the remote when you’re not using it.
You can play games and watch Hulu, VR YouTube videos, VR videos from Google Maps Streetview, New York Time VR videos, Google Photos, Google Play movies and, in the future, Netflix and HBO videos.
Google says that Daydream View is compatible with 50 apps with hundreds more due to launch by the end of 2016.
Daydream View is designed to work with Pixel phones and other future Android partner phones that have not yet been named by Google.
Daydream View costs $79 and will be available in November. Google is currently offering buyers of the Pixel phone a promo code for a discount on the viewer.
— Google Store (@GoogleStore) October 4, 2016
Are you excited by these Google products? Which ones are the most interesting to you? Will you try Google Assistant?
Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.