Google introduces new phone, virtual reality headset
Google announced a big push into the hardware business Tuesday, with a slate of new gadgets that feature its virtual 'Google Assistant’ and can bring virtual reality close to home.
The Google Assistant is built into the new phone, Pixel and home device, Google Home. According to Rick Osterloh, the senior vice president of hardware at Google, the new technology was all built with both hardware and software in mind.
The new phone is sleek and smooth and allows users to communicate with the assistant with just a press of the home button. The assistant can be used in apps, for example to make reservations through OpenTable, to bring up photos, to send emails and can even give more information about things that are currently open on the phone screen.
Users will get 7 hours of power from just 15 minutes of charging and all phones will come with the Nougat operating system preinstalled. To make it even easier to switch phones, a quick switch adapter is also included in every box that can move over contacts, photos, calendar appointments and messages.
The Pixel comes in two models featuring a 5-inch and 5.5-inch display and starts at US$649 and is available for pre-order in Canada starting Tuesday. Both models come with all of the same Pixel features, including a headphone jack, and are available in Quite Black, Very Silver and a limited edition Really Blue colours.
Google Home is a standalone device that features Google Assistant to answer questions and help with home automation.
The device has a white diagonal top and short base that can swapped for six other colours to match the decor that surrounds it. The diagonal top features “light feedback” that will light up when it hears a user’s voice saying, “OK Google.” The top also has a touch pad to supplement the voice commands.
Google Home also doubles as a smart-speaker and can have a preferred music service set as a default, for example Spotify or Youtube. Users can also ask Google Home questions that would normally search on Google. For example, conversion questions when baking or things like, “How do you change a lightbulb?”
Google has so far partnered with Nest, Samsung, Phillips and IFTTT to allow Google Home to control lights, switches and thermostats. Users are also able to have multiple Google Home devices which will work together in their living space.
Google Home is available for US$129 in stores Nov. 4 and will include six months of free access to Youtube Red, so users can have access to ad-free music from the streaming site.
Along with the virtual assistant, Google revealed their mobile virtual reality platform, Daydream and their virtual reality headset, Daydream View.
The headset wasn’t inspired by gadgets but by what people wear. It was built using soft microfiber fabrics that can often be found in athletic wear and is lightweight and can fit over eyeglasses.
The Daydream app is available on the Pixel phone, and will be available on other phones too. The phone is simply placed in the front of the headset which interacts with each other wirelessly. The result is a fully immersive experience.
Google has been working with Warner Bros. to bring a “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” experience to Daydream and also offers Google Movies, Google Photos, Google Streetview and YouTube. Users will have access to the entire YouTube library as well as new immersive videos.
The headset comes with a remote that allows people to interact with their virtual reality world, which can placed inside the headset when not being used to ensure it isn’t lost.
The Daydream headset and controller will be available in November in Snow, Slate and Crimson colours for US$79.
And the rest
Google also unveiled their new Google Wifi hub that can be bought in packs of three or on its own. The hubs are designed to provide multiple access points throughout a house and in an effort to give more coverage.
Google Wifi comes with network assist, which manages the network so that users don’t have to adjust settings manually. Depending on the area of the house you’re connecting from, in order to avoid network congestion, it will automatically connect you to the best Wifi access point.
Google Wifi will be available for pre-order in November and is US$129 for a single pack and US$299 for a 3-pack.
Finally, Google revealed their updated Chromecast, called Chromecast Ultra. It will now have 4K-resolution capability that will be able to play 4K content from Google Play Movies. The Ultra is also 1.8x faster than the previous version and now includes ethernet support.
The new Chromecast can also be controlled by Google Home. Users can ask Google Home to play a TV show, movie or YouTube video on any television with a Chromecast device connected.
Chromecast Ultra will be available in November US$69.