Now that Apple’s September Event is old news, it’s time for the next big event : Google’s Pixel Event. The event was held yesterday, and there was a lot of new stuff released and announced.
Let’s jump right into the event.
Sundar Pichai starts about Google Assistant, on how it will be universal, be there when and where users want it to be, and how Google aims at building a personalized Google for each and every user. He gives examples of how machine learning has vastly improved in different areas, like image captioning, machine translation, text to speech.
We want to build each user his or her individual Google.
He then gives us the theme of the event — to bring Google Assistant to every user, in two contexts, the phone and at the home. Everything announced at the event is about how software blends in with hardware to provide the perfect user experience.
Rick Osterloh takes the stage to talk about the new hardware from Google, which all have Google Assistant at their core.
Rick starts with the new phones — The Pixel and The Pixel XL.
Rick mentions five points where the new phones stand out.
1. Google Assistant
Brian Rakowski takes over to talk about how Google Assistant is built right into the new phones. He live-demos Google Assistant, by asking it to filter photos, get details about bands and concert theaters, to send texts, search for locations, and book restaurants. Being it a live-demo, Google Assistant does make a mistake when listening to his commands, which Brian awkwardly ignores it. Yet, the live demo made Apple’s Siri look like child’s play.
Brian continues to talk about the camera. He says that the Pixel phones have the highest rating for a smartphone camera. The graph compares the Pixels with other flagships on the market, showing that it is superior to them all. (However, the iPhone 7 Plus was not on the graph, which made the graph not so impressive.)
- Smartburst lets you take multiple photos simultaneously, after which Google will intelligently choose the best photo. (Maybe Brian didn’t know that the iPhone’s Burst does the exact same thing.)
- HDR+ mode aligns multiple short-exposure photos to reduce noise, minimize blur, and improve image quality.
- Zero shutter lag, twice-as-fast image processing, fastest-capture time than any other smartphone camera
Pixel owners get free unlimited photos and video at full resolution on Google Photos. Google takes a dig at Apple by showing Apple’s Storage Full alert. Good one, Google!
Sabrina Ellis takes the next few minutes to give us a few updates.
- Google Duo comes pre-installed on the Pixel phones.
- Quickcharge gives you 7 hours of battery life with just 15 minutes of charging. I wish my 6S Plus did that :(
- Pixel phones ship with Android 7.1 Nougat . The updates will get installed in the background, and the next restart will have you running the latest update immediately.
- 24/7 Live Customer Care is built into the phone, with which you can call / chat with a support agent, and even share your screen with them if necessary.
- An easy-switch adapter, that helps you easily switch from iOS to Android, comes in the box. Looks like Google is trying to get back at Apple for releasing its own ‘ Move to iOS ‘ Android app.
Google Pixel is the first phone made by Google, inside and out.
Pixel comes in three (weirdly-named) colors, even though the site only mentions two (you drunk, Google?), starts at $649, and is up for pre-order now.
Take a look at what’s new in Pixel, in this beautiful video (, where Google again takes a dig at Apple’s removing the headphone jack).
5. Virtual Reality
Clay Bavor takes the stage to talk about Daydream, Google’s “platform for high-quality mobile virtual reality”. Clay calls the Pixel phones Daydream-ready. He then introduces Daydream View, the new VR headset from Google. It is crafted out of fabric to be more comfortable, fits over eyeglasses. The phone connects with the headset wirelessly after being latched in. The Daydream Controller is the pointing device that comes along with the headset, and has a reserved spot inside the headset to be stored. (The whole thing goes well, till Clay drops the Controller on stage *cringes*).
Adrienne McCallister comes up to show the new games, apps that work amazingly well with Daydream.
The Daydream Headset and the Controller go on sale in November for $79.
Take a look at the video here .
HARDWARE FOR THE HOME
Clay now invites Mario Queiroz to talk about new hardware for the home, to improve connectivity and entertainment.
Connectivity — Google WiFi
It is an expandable system, where multiple Google WiFi routers can work together to help connect your whole home. You can also manage the WiFi access of different Google WiFi routers, through an app. Google WiFi is available for pre-order in November, and will ship in December. $129 for single pack, $299 for triple pack.
Take a look at the video here .
Entertainment — Google Chromecast Ultra
You can stream upto 4K ultra HD video, with HDR and Dolby Vision support. Chromecast Ultra will also support 4K Movies from Google Play, which will come in November. It is almost twice as fast as the previous version, and has ethernet support. Chromecast Ultra will be available in November, for $69.
Watch Google’s Chromecast Ultra video here .
Mario invites Rishi Chandra to talk about what Google Home can do. Most of what Rishi talks about was already announced at Google I/O 2016.
You can listen to music/podcasts/news, get answers from Google, manage everyday tasks, stream content, and control devices at home, all by just asking with your voice.
You can have multiple Google Home devices spread across your home, and have music played on all of them (Image 1).
They are also smart and only the one which hears you the best helps you out, rather than all of them trying to answer you (Image 2).
(I really like the second one because of the classic ‘ Take me home, country roads ‘ BGM. Do watch it!).
Actions on Google
Scott Huffman takes the stage to talk Actions on Google, open-developer platform that lets anyone develop for Google Assistant. This is very similar to iOS’ Siri App integrations, where you can just talk to Siri, and she’ll help you do something with the help of that app.
You can take a look at Actions on Google at Google’s official site .
There will also be a Google Assistant SDK, that can be integrated right into any device that you produce. This SDK will be launched next year.
Rick Osterloh takes the stage and kicks out those watching on the live-stream. So, being one of them, my Google Pixel Event ends here.
This is all Google had in store for us. You can watch the whole event on YouTube .
MY TAKE ON THE EVENT
I am very satisfied with this event. A lot of the stuff shown by Google was like Google telling Apple, “Sit down, boy. Let me show you how things are done”. There were rumors of Google releasing a new operating system codenamed Andromeda. Clearly, there was no sign of it, and that was a little disappointing. Google has taken great steps to pull consumers its way, like the free unlimited Google Photos, the 6-month YouTubeRed subscription, and the best-in-class camera. This event, I felt, filled a void left by Apple’s September event. Apple’s event was classy (though boring as usual). Google’s Pixel event was just plain fun. The videos had me dancing in my chair, and even tearing up at times. I really enjoyed it, to be honest.
So, I am really glad I stayed up for this event. Did you see the event? Did you like what you saw? Share your thoughts know in the comments!
Now that this event is over, I can’t help but think of what’s coming around the next corner. There are rumors that Apple is planning to release three new iPad Pro models! Well, I guess we’ll have to see how that one goes.
Thanks for reading.
If I’ve made any mistake, please let me know so that I can correct it as soon as possible.