So, the wait is finally over.
Google hosted the most-awaited event on Wednesday in San Francisco to add few more handsets to its Pixel phone lineups. The tech giant, which has recently the HTC unit that manufactured the original Pixel, launched Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL models. In an attempt to a significant push into hardware, Google also introduced latest versions of Google Home, its smart speaker, including a low-cost model that could have a price below $50. Google also released a new version of Daydream, its VR headset, as well as a new high-end (and very expensive) Chromebook.
As Forbes reported live from the event:
At 9:05 am, Google CEO Sundar Pichai marks his presence on the stage and starts the event by promoting Google’s commitment to AI. “It is radically rethinking how computing should work,” Pichai said. “Computers should adapt to how people live their lives,” not the other way around, he adds. “The rate at which we are seeing progress in AI is amazing,” Pichai adds, emphasizing on the fact how Google’s all-new vision algorithms exceed human vision.
At 9:20 am, Hardware SVP Rick Osterloh takes his position on the stage. He says it’s “early days” for the company’s hardware, but the company is off to a good beginning. “Pixel had a great year,” he says, accepting the company didn’t manufacture enough devices to meet the market needs. “The playing field for hardware components is levelling off,” he says. That makes it difficult over time to come up with new products every year, and that’s why Google is going for a different approach, he says. “Innovation will happen at the intersection of hardware, software and AI,” he says. “That’s where the big leaps forward will happen in the next 10 years.”
At 9:30 am, Rishi Chandra, head of home products, takes the stage to refresh Google’s smart speaker line, claims Google has the best voice recognition in the market because it has the most data. That allows Google to create Voice Match, which recognizes the voices of different people in a family, Chandra says. He then introduces Isabelle Olsson, lead designer for Google Home. She unveils Home Mini, a small round speaker that has 3 colour options available. It has a price tag of $49 and is up for pre-order today.
At 9:35 am, Yoki Matsuoka, CTO of Nest, takes the stage to tell about how the company and the Alphabet subsidiary are working together on smart home tech.
At 9:45 am, Chandra unveils Google Home Max, the top quality smart speaker that’s certainly pointed at competing with Apple’s upcoming smart speaker. It has equipped Smart Sound, all-new tech that adjusts the sound to fit your settings. “It’s about delivering consistent, crisp sound experiences. Will be available in December, for $399.
At 9:55 am, as anticipated, the company unveils a high-end Chromebook called Pixelbook, which sports a 13.2-inch display. Thin, convertible into tablet mode, 16GB RAM and 10 hours of battery life. If there is no wifi available, it instantly tethers through your phone. Google Assistant comes built-in. Circle a photo of an artist with your stylus and the Google Assistant will tell you who it is. However, it’s not cheap. Available in 3 configurations, it starts with a wallet-busting price of $999, with the pen for an extra c charge of $99. Available in the US, Canada and the UK. Pre-orders begin today and in stores on Halloween.
At 10:05 am, Mario Queiroz, head of Pixel phones, is up on stage for the major announcement, the most-awaited Google Pixel 2, which sports 5-inch and 6-inch XL versions. Lots of other features: OLED display in the small version, which comes in 3 colour options, including Kind of Blue, black and white. Larger version sports a slightly curved display that goes all the way to the edges, in black or black and white. So, here’s a dig at Apple: “We don’t set aside feature for the larger device,” Queiroz says.
At 10:18 am, Google executives give a demo of software/hardware updates that work with the Pixel 2. You can also squeeze the phone to wake the Google Assistant up. Google Lens lets you understand the world. It can “read” emails, addresses and phone numbers; it can give you a movie or book review by “looking” at a poster or cover; it recognizes historic monuments. A preview of Lens is coming to Pixel users. Google Lens also brings AR capabilities that let you bring virtual objects into reality through the screen.
At 10:30 am, Queiroz is back to tell about the Pixel 2’s camera. The impressive camera from the Pixel 1 had a DXO score (an industry standard for the amount of information captured by a camera’s lens and how good the lens and camera perform together) of 89. The new one has a score of 98 — the highest score of any smartphone camera. It’s a 12 MP, f 1.8 camera. It also has a trendy portrait mode. The latest thing called “fused image stabilization” that enhances the stability of videos. The results look impressive, but we still have to test it before giving any verdict. Pixel 2 starts at $649 and Pixel 2 XL $849, available in six countries in Australia, Canada, Germany India UK and the US with preorder today. For a limited time, Google will giveaway a Google Home Mini for free.
At 10:40 am, after unveiling updates to its Daydream, the VR headset, Google moves immediately to play the game head-to-head with Apple: A set of premium wireless headphones Google Pixel Buds designed to work and pair easily with the Pixel. Google’s AI is built in. The demo worked without any visible flaws. It works in 40 languages. Available in 3 colour options, starting from $159, with pre-orders starting today and will be available in November.
At 10:45 am, Google introduces Google Clips, a small, clippable/wearable camera that could well predict the end of action camera maker GoPro. It comes with AI to make cool pictures. It will have a sticker price of $249 and will be available soon.