At the Google Announcement today, Google launched a whole new line up of products that signpost the direction and vision of the future Google including the new Google Pixel smartphone.
It is clear they have been watching Apple (as well as Amazon) and are adding hardware to their bag of tricks.
Today, Google announced their latest product, the new Google Pixel smartphone, a mobile phone designed and built by Google.
Alongside the Google Pixel smartphone, Google announced more details about the Google Assistant which they premiered a couple of months ago at Google IO.
In addition, they launched a suite of new products under the Made by Google banner, including the Daydream VR, their new Virtual Reality (VR) headset.
This was followed by a Chromecast update – Chromecast Ultra.
Finally, a slightly unexpected piece of hardware is Google WiFi, a new router designed and built by Google coupled with Google Home, Google version of the Amazon Echo.
Google Pixel Smartphone
Many will look at this with some dubiousness.
After all, we previously saw the Google Nexus phones and the Google Pixel tablet, so what is new about the Google Pixel smartphone ?
According to Google, this is the first phone designed and built by Google. Previous smartphones were designed and built in partnership with leading manufacturers such as LG. This apparently will be built by Google.
Initial impression is that the Google Pixel smartphone bears a striking resemblance to the latest iPhones. The main difference being a partial glass back and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Key Google Pixel Features
In our view, the key standout features of the new Google Pixel mobile phone:
The Google Pixel smartphone does look like a clear competitor to the iPhone. It looks good and comes with the advantage of better Google software and unlimited storage, oh and a 3.5mm headphone jack so you don’t need to throw away your favourite headphones.
Google Pixel Availability
Colours available at launch will be Black and Silver as well as a limited edition blue.
The US price is from $649 and the UK price is from £599.
Specific UK pricing is on par with Apple’s new iPhone 7 at:
5″ model with 32Gb – £599
5″ model with 128Gb – £699
5.5″ model with 32Gb – £719
5.5″ model with 128Gb – £819
It is available to pre-order from EE with a mobile contract starting at £50.99 a month.
The Google Assistant was premiered at Google IO in the context of an AI helper for messaging.
Google’s vision is that the Google Assistant will power a Google, personalised to each individual user.
It will be accessible across multiple devices eg smartphones, PC, Google Home, Smart watches etc. The more you use it, the more it learns, the better it gets.
Our view is that although other competitors have what appear to be similar AI assistants such as Siri for Apple and Cortana for Microsoft, Google Assistant has the benefit of years of data built into the Google Knowledge Graph, Google Translate, Google Maps etc.
This rich and vast data pool Google has collated allows its Google Assistant to be a much more intelligent AI. The demos shown at the Google Announcement were really impressive.
Google Assistant Availability
The current iteration of Google Assistant is available now in all the new products and will be upgraded and improved over time.
Google gave us a plethora of new products including a new virtual reality headset, WiFi router, Chromecast update and their new Google Home device.
Daydream View VR
Daydream View is Google’s take on a VR headset, taking Apple-esque design cues and applying them to a VR headset. You could call it an upgrade to the Google Cardboard headset.
In addition to well thought out ergonomics and what appear to be nice features such as wireless handshaking between the headset and the phone, it sports soft, clothing materials instead of hard plastic shells.
Needless to say, the first phone it is compatible with is the Google Pixel.
Daydream View Availability
Daydream View will be available to purchase in late November/December for £69.
In the context of all the other announcements today, it appears it is targeting both Apple and Amazon innovations, leaving no stone unreplicated !
First up is a competitor to Apple Airport routers.
Google announced a new WiFi router that claims to offer better and stronger WiFi to support the growing need for video and music streaming. A key feature of Google WiFi is its ability to extend the WiFi signal across your home by using extenders.
Google WiFi Availability
Pricing will be $129 for a single router or $299 for a 3 device pack and will be available by the end of the year from the Google Store.
Google Home appears to be a direct competitor to Amazon’s Echo. As per the Amazon Echo, it is a device located in a room that provides a voice activated assistant.
It allows you to control various home devices such as Nest heating but through Google Assistant will perform the same functions you can perform on your phone but at home. By being at home it can not only respond to questions, help with composing or replying to messages but also integrate control of your chromecast and play movies and music.
Google Home Availability
Google Home will be available on the Google store for $129 along with the offer of a 6 month trial, bundled with a YouTube Red subscription.
Compared to the other announcements today, this seemd a little underwhelming but essentially it is an update for the Chromecast providing UHD/4K playback of moview along with support for HDR and Dolby Vision.
Chromecast Ultra Availability
The Chromecast Ultra is available to buy from the Google Store for £69.
Google has now thrown its hat in the ring, going directly up against Apple but also against its mobile phone partners such as Samsung, to whom it supplies the Android operating system.
It is clear that Google have been painting attention and working hard at getting their products right.
They have learnt from Apple the importance of design. Of creating products the customers will love.
Google have combined their leading edge software and data capability with well designed hardware.
From the curves and glass of the new Google Pixel phone to the soft materials used on the Daydream VR headset, all the products look like they will appeal to consumers.
More importantly, Google has priced all the products on par, or better, than their competition but it is a shame they have moved away from the budget friendly price point of the previous Google Nexus smartphones.
For us, the differentiator will be the pervasiveness and potential intelligence of the new Google Assistant. We may all soon be living in a Google world !
We love the Google Pixel smartphone advert that is clearly having a dig at the newly launched iPhone 7:
Want to see the Pixel in action, here is a hand-on first look:
and for those who want to see the actual Google announcement, you can watch it here: