Google announces Pixel 2 smartphones and a whole host of other hardware

By | octubre 5, 2017
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Google unveils two new phones

Google launches the second generation of its Pixel smartphone along with new voice-enabled home speakers, a new laptop, earbuds and a tiny camera. Vision courtesy Google.

Google has unveiled a stack of new gadgets at a special event in California, issuing a direct challenge to Apple, Amazon and Microsoft as it continues its push into original hardware that leverages the company’s AI and cloud services.

The devices include new versions of its Pixel smartphones, new Google Home speakers, wireless earbuds and a tiny autonomous camera, all of which utilise Google’s machine learning or ‘Assistant’ AI in one way or another.

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones refine the glass-and-aluminium look of last year’s models, offering 5-inch or 6-inch OLED screens respectively. While the smaller phone keeps the big bezels on top and below, the larger one stretches the screen to cover the full front of the device.

The phones are now water resistant, feature an always-on display and can launch Google’s Assistant when you squeeze their sides. They also feature bigger batteries, and Google says they charge fast enough to get you 7 hours of use out of a 15 minute top-up

The improved cameras have once again set a new benchmark according to DxOMark, which scored the new shooters at an unprecedented 98. Following Apple, Google’s phones now offer a Portrait mode that separates the background from the subject and applies blur, and can take moving “Motion Photos”.

Once again Pixel owners will get unlimited Google Photos storage to keep their snaps backed up online. The phones also contain a preview of Google Lens, the experimental new app that lets you point your camera at anything to conduct a visual Google search on it.

The phones are currently up for pre-order, with the Pixel 2 available in black, white and “kinda blue”, starting at $1079. The bigger Pixel 2 XL comes in black or black and white, starting at $1399. Google is also bringing back its made-to-order official cases featuring artwork or Google Maps locations, plus a new line featuring knitted fabric. A release date is yet to be announced.

Following the lead of other flagship phones, the Pixel 2s have dropped the traditional headphone jack, and so Google also introduced a set of wireless headphones called Pixel Buds. Tied together by a cord that goes behind your neck, the Buds feature a touchpad for audio control and come in a charging case that works almost identically to the one Apple debuted with its AirPods. 

The Buds can access Google Assistant with a touch, so you can ask them to play the music you want, dictate a text message, get directions or anything else you might use Assistant for. When your phone gets a notification, you can double tap the Buds to get Assistant to read it to you. The headphones will go for $249 in Australia.

The company also unveiled a new smaller version of its Google Home smart speaker, called Home Mini. About the size of a donut, it’s a cheaper ($79 in Australia) option that has the same capabilities as the bigger Home but probably won’t pack the same aural punch for music.

Three of the more exciting announcements were for products that Google is yet to confirm are coming to Australia.

Google Clips is a cute little camera that you just set down and leave on its own to take pictures. Using machine learning to build its knowledge over time, Clips keeps track of faces that it knows and aims to get spontaneous shots you wouldn’t be able to capture with your own camera. Google says it was made with parents and pet owners in mind. It’s coming to the US for $US249 ($316).

Another new Google Home, Home Max, is a high-end speaker for listening to music that also does everything the standard Home does. With dual 4.5-inch high-excursion woofers and something Google calls Smart Sound (it automatically calibrates itself based on its surroundings), it also packs Bluetooth and an auxilliary port so you can run your turntable, CD player or whatever else you like through it as well. It’s coming to the US for $US399.

Finally, Google unveiled a competitor to Apple and Microsoft’s latest laptops and tablets, the Pixelbook. Like Lenovo’s Yoga, the Pixelbook is on a hinge that lets it function as a tablet or standalone screen. It’s touch-enabled, which is handy since as a Chromebook it can run Android apps. It’s got a dedicated key to call up the Google Assistant, and surprisingly beefy specs for a Chromebook. It’s coming to the US starting at $US999, with a stylus called the Pixelbook Pen sold separately.

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