At its hardware launch event on Wednesday, Google unveiled a number of new products - from smart speakers, to an AI powered camera that can automatically save clips you'll want to keep, the two new Pixel phones, and more. Although Google unveiled several products, it also laid out a roadmap of how these products will evolve, and get more powerful over time, as they form the infrastructure of "ambient computing" that's context aware and reactive to your needs.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence were a big part of the announcements Google made during the event, and are being used to power experiences that Google's new hardware provides, such as instantaneous translation,for example. There was a lot to take in, and so here's a look at everything that Google announced at the event.
Google Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL launched
Obviously, the highlight of the event was the launch of the two new phones, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. As is to be expected, the two phones have gotten a number of upgrades, with improvements to the camera, squeezable frames, and even more software integration. Like Apple, even Google has now removed the 3.5mm jack, using the USB Type-C port for both charging and music.
India is going to be a part of the first wave of countries to get the two new phones, with prices starting from Rs. 61,000, for the Pixel 2 64GB variant. The 128GB variant costs Rs. 70,000, while the Pixel 2 XL is priced at Rs. 73,000 and Rs. 82,000, for the 64GB and 128GB variants respectively.
Daydream View: now in new colours, and new lenses
Apart from the Pixel phones, the updated Daydream View VR headset is the only product in the new lineup that Google has confirmed is coming to India. It's now available in three new colours: Fog, Charcoal, and Coral. It's compatible with the new Pixels, and any other Daydream-ready smartphone.
Google says the latest iteration of the Daydream View VR headset has high-performance lenses for improved viewing clarity as well as a wider field of view. The new Google Daydream View has been priced at $99 (roughly Rs. 6,500) and will go on sale in India (via Flipkart), the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, Australia, France, Spain, Japan, and South Korea later this year.
Google Home gets bigger - and smaller - variants
Last year, we first saw the Google Home, the company's answer to the Amazon Echo, its Alexa-powered smart speaker. Last week, Amazon launched a revamped Echo line, and this week announced its entry to India, Not to be left behind, Google unveiled two new Home speakers, the Google Home Max, which will become available in December, and the Google Home Mini, which goes on sale this month.
The Home Mini is a small speaker that can sit on your bedside or be carried where you go, supports touch controls and of course, voice input. The Google Home Max is bigger than the Google Home, with 4.5-inch woofers, and 0.7-inch tweeters. It also uses beamforming to direct audio, and adapts to the size and layout of the room. The Home Mini is priced at $49, or roughly Rs. 3,200, while the Google Home Max is priced at $399, or roughly Rs. 26,000.
Google Pixelbook blends laptop and tablet
The company also unveiled the Chrome OS-powered Google Pixelbook, a 12.3-inch laptop that can be folded over to look like a tablet, with a touchscreen and a new Pen accessory, similar to the Surface Pen, or the Apple Pencil. The Pixelbook will also be able to run certain Android apps, which could be useful.
Priced starting at $999 (roughly Rs. 65,000), with the Pixelbook Pen priced at $99 (roughly Rs. 6,500), this Chromebook is a premium product, and has a sleek body that's 10mm which, and weighs in at 1kg. It's also the first laptop to support Google Assistant, the company said. It has a 10-hour battery, and uses a USB-Type C charger, just like the Pixel phones.
Google Pixel Buds can translate for you
Google also unveiled its answer to the Apple AirPods - its own wireless headphones, called the Pixel Buds. Unlike the AirPods, the Pixel Buds aren't truly wireless - the two earpieces are connected by a single wire. Some people may prefer this as it would be harder to misplace than a single AirPod earpiece.
Priced at $159 (roughly Rs. 10,400), the Pixel Buds are up for pre-orders in the US, but India plans haven't been announced yet. The headphones come with a case that doubles as a battery pack, and they don't have any buttons, supporting swipes and taps on the earpiece instead. The feature that sets them apart is seamless translation - using Google Translate's conversation mode, you can talk to someone in another language - you'll hear what they say in your language, in your ear, while the translation of what you said will come out of the phone's speaker, for a seamless conversation.
Clips is an AI-powered camera
Another cool product that Google unveiled is the its first camera, Google Clips. The camera automatically takes pictures that it determines are of interest, using machine learning to figure out what photos you want to save. There's also a shutter for manual control, of course. The camera is priced at $249 (roughly Rs. 16,200).
From the moment a user switches on Clips, the camera begins to look for good moments to capture - though it lights up when actually recording, for greater privacy. The company is also throwing in unlimited Google Photos cloud storage at no charge, should the users wish to store the photos in company's cloud service.
We discussed the impact of Google Pixel 2 and its big hardware ecosystem India on our weekly technology podcast Orbital, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS or just listen to this episode by hitting the play button below.