At today’s Google event, all eyes were obviously on the second generation Pixel phone. Pixel certainly lived up to its expectations, but it wasn’t the only notable Google announcement today.
Here’s what’s worth talking about.
Google Home Mini & Max
Up first was the Google Mini, Google’s miniature version of Home. Clearly an Echo Dot competitor, the Mini is wrapped in fabric like the larger version, and really looks great. If Google is to be believed, it tested over 150 shades of grey (enter BDSM joke) before settling on charcoal and two additional colors: coal and coral.
The speaker embraces the circular shape, and produces 360-degree sound in a package you won’t want to hide, like you would Amazon’s Echo Dot.
Google Assistant is getting a cool new upgrade, called Broadcast. It’s nothing mind-blowing, but it essentially turns any combo of Google Home/Google Home Mini’s into a smart intercom system. After giving the appropriate command, you can “broadcast” a message to the entire house or, presumably, individual rooms — much like Echo’s “drop in” feature, but a bit less creepy.
Preorders start today, and you can grab yours for just $49. Google Home Mini will ship on October 19.
Google Max, a larger Google Home, was up next. Inside the box you’ll find another cloth-wrapped speaker, but one you can position horizontally or vertically.
Inside the beautifully-designed smart speaker, you’ll find another new feature, Smart Sound. Smart Sound is the answer for speakers that sound great in the store, but not so much in your home. Max uses machine learning to custom-tailor the sound to your space, and ensure a superb audio experience.
Max launches in December, at $399. It’s initially only available in the US and comes in two colors: chalk and charcoal.
Pixelbook is the thinnest, lightest laptop Google has ever made. At just 10mm (0.39 inches) and 1kg (2.2 pounds), it’s incredibly portable. It, according to Google, is the first convertible laptop that feels as natural to use as a tablet.
Pixelbook comes with up to 16GB of ram, and a 512GB SSD. Better still, the battery needs just 15 minutes of charge to give a full two hours of battery life.
Instant tethering looks cool too. When you don’t have WiFi, Pixelbook automatically tethers to Pixel phones for internet anywhere. It’s unclear whether this works for any Android device, or just Pixel, but the latter was mentioned specifically.
Also in the box is Pixelbook Pen. The built-in stylus features 60 degrees of angular awareness and 2,000 levels of pressure sensitivity.
Pixelbook starts at $999. The Pixelbook Pen is $99. You can preorder both, starting today. They’ll ship October 31.
Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL
The star of the show, Pixel 2, will come in both the original 5-inch and the 6-inch XL.It’ll ship with Android Oreo, and comes in a few cool colors: kinda blue, just black, and clearly white.
Pixel XL has two color options: just black, or black and white.
And then there was the Apple jab, with Google stating it doesn’t save its best features for the larger of the two devices: both will offer a uniform experience, regardless of the size.
The camera, according to DXO is the best on the market and scores a 98, a full four points higher than the iPhone 8, and nin points higher than the first Pixel. Pixel 2’s camera can also do beautiful portrait shots without a second camera. Using dual pixel technology, the single sensor can recognize multiple layers of a single pixel, and software combines them for those great bokeh effects we’d previously only seen on dual-sensor models.
It works on the front-facing camera too — no crazy notch, and a single sensor.
Pixel also features a vivid OLED display, super fast charging, water resistance, the fastest fingerprint sensor, and now, the world’s highest rated camera.
The UI, as usual, looks great. Squeezing the phone brings up Assistant, which is a great feature for quick access. The AI is also smart enough to detect intentional squeezes from accidental ones, even inside a case.
Google Lens looks incredible. Using image recognition, Lens analyzes image information to provide actionable insights. Scanning an album label, for example, brings up more information about the artist. Taking a photo of a flier can automatically grab email address and phone numbers, so you can call or message without typing anything. Or, you can grab great vacation photos without worrying about things like spelling when posting them to Facebook later; Lens can recognize it, and provide more information on it later.
Accuracy, according to Google, is greater than 95 percent: better than humans.
You can preorder both the Pixel and Pixel XL, starting today. Each starts at $649/$849 and offers 64GB or 128GB versions.
Google announced the Daydream View today, but sort of glossed over it. We know it’s coming with 250 VR titles, and will include video content such as YouTube VR, and that Pixel owners get access to IMAX 3D movies for free. There’s also a cast function, so those not in the headset can see a glimpse of the action.
Aside from that though, Google didn’t really tell us much.
Google Pixel Buds
Pixel Buds, which definitely aren’t an AirPod competitor — snicker — look pretty amazing. Unlike AirPods, both earbuds are connected with a single wire that sits on your neck — no more worries about losing one if it should fall out.
Controls are on the right earbud, and aside from typical volume and track controls, Pixel Buds offer easy access to Google Assistant as well.
But perhaps the coolest thing on offer is the real-time translation offered by the fancy new speakers. On stage, presenters spoke in real-time using two different languages, and Pixel Buds — when connected to a smartphone — translated English to Swedish (and vice-versa) in a noisy auditorium in near real-time. Out of the box, it’ll translate more than 40 languages.
Priced at $159, they’ll ship in November. Pre-orders start today.
Clips is a hands-free camera that clips to almost anything. It looks like a slightly larger GoPro, but chock-full of AI looking for clear, stable shots and trying to recognize the subject of the image. It grabs snippets, or “Clips,” for you to grab any moment in a high resolution still image. Or, you can send it to Google Photos to automatically stitch together clips in mere moments.
Clips is “coming soon” and sells for $249.