First Look: Pixel, AI, Google Home, and more

Google just got into making its own consumer electronics in a big way

first look google intro
Pulling consumers in

Google made a big deal about the confluence of its new hardware designs and its software – particularly AI – today at its launch event in San Francisco. And, indeed, many of the new products that Google introduced seem designed to pull consumers further into the Google ecosystem, but there’s no denying that there were some impressive capabilities on show. Have a look.

The Pixel
Credit: YouTube.com
The Pixel

As predicted and leaked, the replacement for Google’s Nexus line of own-brand smartphones is a beast, packing top-shelf hardware, sleek design, and Google’s latest software, updated as soon as it's released. It’s available in two sizes (5 and 5.5 inches), and retails through either Verizon or the Play Store for a base price of $649. (The phones work only on Verizon, though models for other carriers could come in spring 2017.) Preorders are open now.

Google Home
Google Home

Google Home is the company’s attempt to dethrone Amazon’s Echo in the home smart hub market, and it’s pretty impressive – it’ll interoperate with a wide range of other smart home gizmos, gives you your schedule at a glance, and uses improved natural language processing to answer queries quickly and accurately. It costs $130 (the price includes six free months of YouTube Red), and will ship Nov. 4.

Chromecast Ultra
Chromecast Ultra

One of the aforementioned smart home gizmos that Google Home can interface with is the Chromecast Ultra, the new version of the company’s simple media streaming dongle. At $70, it’s more expensive than previous models, but this version loads data faster and works with 4K content.

Google Assistant
Google Assistant

Underpinning a lot of what Google released today is the new-look Google Assistant framework, a multiplatform digital valet and voice control system that has been augmented by new machine translation and AI advances. Both the Pixel smartphone and Google Home contain a lot of Google Assistant features.

Google Wi-Fi
Google Wi-Fi

Google also announced its own home Wi-Fi router, which boasts handy features like easy control over specific users or devices (pausing the kids’ Wi-Fi access, anyone?) and the ability to act as a mesh network, when multiple units are used in a bigger house. Preorders start in November, retail available will be in December, and the price is $129, though a three-pack will be available for $299.

Daydream VR
Daydream VR

Google says that it has designed the Daydream VR system to be less like a gadget, and more like something you’d actually wear. Simply insert the Pixel smartphone into the device and use the included motion-sensitive controller to interact with a 360-degree VR experience. Daydream VR goes on sale in November for $79.