Google Launches its First Smartphone

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[Image Courtesy of Reuters]

Google just launched its new Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, complete with Google Assistant and virtual reality capabilities.

The Pixel and Pixel XL are powered by Snapdragon 821 processors and a new version of Google’s Android software. The software includes capabilities with Daydream virtual reality platform, which Google announced over the summer.

Both phones are built by HTC, but Google takes full credit for the design. The Pixel and the XL have an aluminum unibody and polished glass display. Both have Pixel Imprint fingerprint senors similar to Apple. They come in three colors: Quite Black, Very Silver and Really Blue.

Oh, and the phones still include a 3.5 mm headphone jack. Good to know Apple hasn’t killed the headphone jack entirely.

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[Image Courtesy of Google]

“We’re committed to building hardware, and this is only the beginning,” said Rick Osterloh from Google.

The phones can get seven hours of charge in 15  minutes, according to Google’s Sabrina Ellis. Their sizes 5″ and 5.5″ for the Pixel and Pixel XL (comparable to iPhone 7 and 7 plus, respectively). Customers can buy two types of storage, 32 or 128 GB.

Verizon will carry the phone exclusively in the US. EE will offer it exclusively in the United Kingdom. The phones cost $649 and is available for pre-order today in US, UK, Canada, Germany and Australia

The major highlights of the Pixel:

Google Assistant:

The assistant access Google’s extensive and ever-growing search engine to answer user queries. It can read emails and calendar entries and offer up personalized specs of your entire day. It builds shopping lists and even flips a coin as demonstrated in the debut.

Camera:

The Pixel and Pixel XL’s cameras have 12.3 megapixel resolution with 1.55 micron pixels and an f/2.0 aperture. Google says the camera has “the shortest capture time on any mobile camera ever.” The cameras also received an 89 in DxOMark, a rating the company proudly touts.

The camera uses smartburst to let owners take a quick succession of images, allowing them to pick the best one. It also comes with video stabilization.

Storage:

Google allows for free unlimited storage for images and videos shot with the Pixel. That’s similar to Google Photos backup. No more ‘storage full’ alerts mid-snap as you’re capturing important moments.

Daydream system:

The fabric-based headset allows users to slide in their Pixel, use the new controller and get lost in their own virutal reality world. Clay Bavor introduced and explained the VR system, mentioning that JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them would be an exclusive to the system.

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[Image Courtesy of The Guardian]

The headset will work with every Daydream-prepped phone, of which Pixel is the first. The headset weighs 30 percent less than “comparable devices” and is roomy enough to accommodate for glasses.

Google Home Speaker:

Rishi Chandra on the google Home speaker:
“It’s just as easy to control the music with your voice. The great thing is I never had to pull out my phone or deal with clunky remotes.”

Google’s answer to the iHome pulls from Youtube for content, but also supports Spotify, Tune In, GooglePlay, and soon IHeartRadio.

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[Image Courtesy of Engadget]

Using Google Assitant, the speaker can access expert curated playlists. Users can set a default music service.

“We want Google Home to match your preferences,” Chandra said.

Music search is driven by Google, which means even when you remember a few of the lyrics, Google Home can still infer what you want from your search.

The Google Home costs $129 and includes a free six-month trial of YouTube Red. Available for pre-order today from Bestbuy, Walmart, Target. It will ship from those retailers starting on November 4th.

“As search gets better, Google Home will get better,” Chandra said.

 

Read a play-by-play of the live-stream coverage here.

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