SO MANY GADGETS

Google just put AI everywhere with an armada of new gadgets

At an event in San Francisco today (Oct. 4), Google unveiled a veritable armada of new gadgets, mostly centered around the company’s artificial intelligence and machine-learning work.

Here’s a rundown of what was announced:

Pixel 2

Google unveiled two models of the Pixel 2, its follow-up to the new phone line it released last year. Much like Apple and Samsung’s newest phones, the Pixel 2 models have wider, shaper displays, with the screen taking up a greater percentage of the front of the phone. Both phones have high-definition OLED displays; the Pixel 2 has a 5.5-inch display, and the Pixel 2 XL has a massive 6-inch display.

Both phones feature 12-megapixel cameras that received the highest-ever rating from DxOMark, an industry-trusted camera testing site. According to Google, the phones can create portrait-mode camera effects like those found on Apple and Samsung’s newer phones, but only need one camera to do it, rather than the two its competitors require. Through machine-learning algorithms, the phone can determine what is in the background and foreground and produce photos that look like they were taken with a professional camera. Google claims the camera also works better than any other in low-light settings.

The phones have no headphone jacks, but come with an adapter to use traditional headphones through the phone’s USB-C charging port. And it charges fast, too: Google claims it can get up to seven hours of battery life on just 15 minutes of charging. The phone doesn’t have wireless charging, like Apple and Samsung’s new flagship phones, but it is water resistant.

The company showed off advanced software updates for Android phones as well, including forthcoming augmented reality apps, and Google Lens, which can understand the world seen through the phones’ cameras. For example, it can interpret email addresses on flyers, figure out when a movie is playing from a poster, or tell you when a landmark was built.

Both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will come in white and black, and the Pixel 2 will also come in an odd shade of very light blue. Both phones start with 64 GB of storage, and have 4 GB of memory. The Pixel 2 starts at $649, and the 2 XL at $849.

They’re available to preorder today, and are expected to ship Oct. 17. Anyone who orders before Oct. 19 will also receive a free Google Home Mini (more on that below).

Google Pixel Buds

Google launched a set of wireless earbuds intended to work with the new Pixel phones, and phones running Android Nougat or newer. They have Google Assistant built-in, and can alert you to notifications your phone receives, or answer question you might have. The headphones have the ability to automatically translate conversations in real-time between two people speaking up to 40 different languages. Science fiction has become a reality.

The earbuds have five hours of listening time, and the supplied charging case can hold roughly four additional full charges. They come in the same colors as the new Pixel phones, and cost $159. They can be preordered today, and will be available in November.

Google Clips

Google showed off a small new camera that has “an AI engine at the core of the camera.” It’s meant to just be placed somewhere in a room to capture candid moments (you can also pose for it if you’d like), as it recognizes faces of family, friends, and pets, and captures shots as you go about your life. Nothing leaves the device until you want it to, Google said.

The camera costs $249—or about half as much as GoPro’s similarly sized new camera—but a ship date has not yet been announced. GoPro’s stock was down about 4% to $10.68 at the time of publishing.

Google Home updates

Google Home Mini. Google unveiled a small cloth-covered, voice-activated speaker that’s Google’s answer to the Amazon Echo Dot. You can touch the top of the device to change songs or pause your music, and connect it to any other Bluetooth speaker or Chromecast streaming device. It will come in red, light grey, and dark grey, and cost $49. It’s available for preorder in seven countries today, and available in stores on Oct. 19.

Google Home Max. Another addition to the Home family is Max, a much larger, more powerful speaker system. It works like a regular Home device, but with stronger built-in speakers, and the ability to form its sound to the shape of the room it’s in—much like Apple’s forthcoming HomePod speaker. Max can hear you ask it commands even when music is blasting, and it’ll learn over time when to change the volume on its own—for example, it’ll be louder when the dishwasher is running, and quieter in the morning. It can also apparently figure out what song you want to listen to by just saying a few lines from it.

The speaker will come in light and dark grey, and will cost $399. It’ll come with a 12-month subscription to YouTube Red (the company’s music and video streaming service) and will be available in December.

Contextual instructions. You can now use Google voice assistants to more easily control internet-connected devices. If you say “Hey Google, make it warmer,” it’ll know to tell your Nest thermostat to turn the temperature up in the room. If you say “Hey Google, good night,” it can lock your IoT locks, turn down the lights, set your alarm in enough time for your first meeting the next morning. On stage, Nest’s chief technology officer said Google Assistant is now “one step closer to a truly thoughtful home.”

Broadcast. You can now ask Google Assistant to broadcast a message (like “it’s time for school”) across every Google Home device in a house. Your kids will never be late for school again.

A Pixel laptop

Competing with Microsoft’s Surface and Apple’s iPad Pro devices, Google announced a new touchscreen laptop that it’s calling the Pixelbook. It runs a version of the Chrome operating system found on low-cost Chromebook laptops, but includes the same voice assistant found in every other Google device.

It also released a stylus (built in part with Wacom, the company making styluses years before Silicon Valley rediscovered them) that matches the design of the laptop and the Pixel smartphones. The laptop has a 12.3-inch screen, and can be used as a traditional computer, or it can be folded backwards into a tablet, or tented upright like a tiny television. The stylus can be used in any mode.

The laptop features Google Assistant, so you can just talk to open programs. There’s also a dedicated button to open the assistant and type to it for situations where it’s too awkward to talk to your computer. It also features the Android app store, so your favorite mobile apps (like Snapchat) will be available on the laptop.

The computer starts at $999, and the stylus at $99—roughly the same price as competing models from Apple and Microsoft. It’s available for preorder today, and will be in stores Oct. 31.

An updated Daydream VR headset

Google unveiled a new version of its mobile VR headset that features a new fabric exterior (including that same fetching pink shade), and new lenses. It has built-in stereo speakers, and will cost $99.

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