Samsung and Apple have done their part to take technology a notch above in 2017 and now it is Google’s turn.
Last year Google axed the nexus model and came up with in-house designed Pixel and Pixel XL. Though the sales weren’t as expected, we heard a lot about their first generation phones, especially the cameras were rated one of the best. They also introduced Google Home – a smart speaker and home assistant, Google Wifi – Home wifi solution and Daydream View – High quality virtual reality. By introducing these, Google established themselves in the hardware arena.
This year the rumours were plenty on Pixel 2, Pixelbook and much more. But there were much more on store. Lets look at them.
From the word go, Sundar Pichai stressed on the need of machine learning, on how Google is evolving with this subject and on how Computers must understand human rather than the other way around.
He touched upon how machine learning can identify specific locations / objects and on how Google translate can be improved to help reduce language barriers. Sounded futuristic and the way forward.
Google Home was launched last year and is much similar to Amazon Echo. Rishi Chandra (GM – Home Products) took us through various advancement that Google has done to make Google Home a lot more better.
Voice Match – After testing over 50 Million voice samples, Google has come up with ‘Voice Match’ which can recognise who interacts.
Hands Free Calling – Henceforth calls can be made from Google Home through your phone to your contact. Yes, it can recognise who interacts and pick contacts from their phone and call using their number, of course with our permission. Initially available in US and Canada.
Find my phone – Google Home can now ring your phone even if it’s in silent, for iPhones it can give you a call.
Home Connectivity – Google is now working with various partners such as Nest in coming up with plenty of appliances / devices (Door bell, CCTV, Lighting, Thermostats etc.) to work with Google Home.
Parent Friendly – Instructions given in Google Home can now be broadcasted to all other Google Home devices across your home. Google Home can now help you play, let you learn and let you imagine.
Google home can tell stories (Disney), play games (Musical chairs) and also teach kids (Learning session).
Google Home Mini – It is a miniature version of Google Home and an alternative to Amazon Echo Dot. It’s circular device with 360 degree speaker with touch enabled volume control and content control. It’s charged with USB charger, it’s disappointing that it doesn’t have the latest USB Type C version.
It will be available at an irresistible US$ 49 in three colours – Core, Chalk and Charcoal. It will be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, US and UK. India is still awaiting Google Home, however it can still be used with limited usage.
Google Home Max – It’s smart speaker similar to Amazon Echo Plus and Apple HomePod. It’s a device to feel sound, it can adjust sounds according to location of the device and its surrounding. It has dual 4.5” woofers and two 0.7” tweeters. Google HomeMax can recognise the instructors voice even when the music is playing loud. Google devices can play music / video from quite a number of streaming platforms – Spotify, Play Music, Netflix etc.
Google Home Max will be available from December 2017 in US at a whopping price of US$ 399. It will come with a 12 month subscription to YouTube Music.
As expected, Pixelbook was launched and is Google’s version of Microsoft Surface or Apple iPad Pro. PixelBook will be 10mm thin and will weigh 1Kg. It comes with a 12.3” Quad HD LCD display with 235 ppi, usual 4 in 1 design mode (Laptop, Tablet, Stand, Presentation). It offers i5 or i7 processor with upto 16GB RAM.
Great things in PixelBook is it comes with Google Assistant built-in (dedicated key in keyboard to chat with assistant) and USB type-C charger (15 minutes of charging can give 2 hours of use). What else, it can now connect automatically to Google Pixel’s hotspot when your wireless is down.
Google has also introduced it’s own version of Pen with 2000+ sensitive levels and 10ms latency speed. Pixel Pen has a button to call google assistant. Pixel Pen can be used to select a space on screen and check information with assistant.
PixelBook is priced at US$ 999 and Pixel Pen at US$ 99.
Google Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2
The design is similar to that of LG G6. The display is curved to the body and provides space for two speakers over and below the screen. Pixel XL 2 retains the dual coloured back, however as reduced the size of the glass. The back also holds the camera lens (single) and fingerprint scanner.
By cutting down the thickness and bezels, Google is now the second provider to cut down 3.5mm jack. Yes, there are no more headphone jack and the package does not come neither with an audio headset nor with an adaptor. Remember, Google taking a dig at Apple in 2016 for removing the 3.5 mm jack. The phones are now dust proof and water resistant.
Pixel 2 XL comes in 6 inch OLED display with a resolution 1440 X 2880 (aspect ratio of 18:9) and 537 ppi. The phone is powered by latest Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB RAM and 3520 mAh Battery.
Pixel 2 comes in 5 inch AMOLED display with a resolution 1080 X 1920 and 441 ppi. The phone is powered by latest Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB RAM and 2700 mAh Battery.
Camera was one thing that made Google Pixel stand out. This year, they have improved it a lot more. The DXO benchmark which gave 89 last year has rated 98 this year. Google rates its camera the best ever in market.
The 12 MP single rear facing camera with f/1.8 aperture that has OIS / EIS and Dual-pixel auto focus. Google promises to deliver in-depth portrait shots from single lens. Portrait mode is available both in rear and front camera. Not just that you can also now capture ‘Live Photos’ and google calls it ‘Clips’.
The unlimited storage of photos and videos continues. The photos will be stored in full resolution and videos in 4K.
Mario Queiroz took a dig at Apple saying larger phones will not have better camera feature, citing that portrait mode is only available in ‘Plus’ versions in Apple. Further, states that they no need dual lens to portrait mode instead their machine learning does.
Always-on Display – Samsung’s always-on display has now come to Pixel with an improved feature of identifying music that is played in the background.
Home Screen – The latest events will always be available on your home screen. This will be one of the practical application of technology. Google search is now always available in bottom of any screen. Now squeeze the phone to trigger Google Assistant. Google will distinguish intentional and unintentional squeezes. Google assistant will now respond summary of events on specific commands.
Google Lens – Picture something and ask Google to understand / learn more about it. Capture a dog, flower, building or anything to know its variety and other relevant information. Capture a brochure to pick phone number, mail address. Capture a movie poster / book to know more about it. It’s still in development stage and will be introduced soon.
AR Stickers – Similar to Animoji, Google will introduce AR based stickers – NBA, Starwars, Youtube, Stranger Things etc. The AR characters can also interact between them.
Google Pixel 2 comes in Kinda Blue (Only for Verizon customers), Just Black and Clearly White (Again digs at Apple in naming colours)
Google Pixel XL 2 comes in Just Black and Clearly White. White version comes with Black glass at the back and colourful power button.
Pixel 2 64GB version will be available at US$649 (Rs.61,000 I India) and Pixel XL 2 64GB version at US$849 (Rs.73,000 in India). Google Home Mini will be given for free along with Pixel 2 (both versions), however you need to be a US resident to claim. Australia, Canada, India, Germany, US and UK can experience by October.
PixelBuds is Google’s version of Apple AirPod. Then what’s new, it has built-in google assistant. Not just that, it can translate several languages live. Live demo of conversation of Swedish and English nationals was shown. It seamlessly worked and was so futuristic. However, will take years to make it a reality in several languages. Hindi and Bengali are two Indian languages that are currently available. The buds has a charging case and can be used to have 24 hours of listening time. The buds are touch sensitive and can control volume and content by touching. Pixel Buds will be available at US$159.
Daydream – Second generation Daydream can be used to view iMAX movies. Daydream will be available for $99 and have one year free access to iMAX movies.
Clips – Google Clips can be used to capture spontaneous candid moments. It a small rectangle design product that can be placed literally anywhere. The AI engine can intelligently capture the moments around you that will have you. Clips can be connected to Pixel and is hands free. Clips will be coming soon at US$249.
Google Lens could be helpful in many ways. Live translation could break language barriers. Virtual Personal Assistants could help you whenever and wherever you want.
Really impressed with the design of Google Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2. They are expensive and beautifully deigned. Google Pixel Camera and Google Clips that can be used you capture moments instantly without the need of deleting any.
Chrome OS in PixelBook has a long way to go as a full fledged laptop as developers need to work on softwares that are used to Windows and Mac OS.
To summarise the event was plenty of products that are upgraded version of products already available in Amazon, Samsung, Apple and Microsoft with a better MACHINE LEARNING and with a touch of Google.
After all technology isn’t about innovation it’s about putting into use.