Google continues to solidify itself as a major hardware player, unveiling several new products — including its new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones — in San Francisco on Wednesday morning.
The second iteration of Google’s cornerstone mobile device comes with features like a water resistant plastic-OLED curved display, unlimited photo and video storage, 7 hours of battery life with 15 minutes of charge, and a 538 pixel per inch camera — one-upping the iPhone X’s 458 ppi. And while we’ll just have to take his word for it, for now, Google VP of Product Mario Quieroz, Pixel 2’s fingerprint censor “unlocks faster than any smartphone.”
Pixel 2 also features “on-device machine learning,” allowing users to squeeze the side of the phone to summon Google’s AI assistant. Squeezing the side and saying “take a selfie” will open the camera, for example.
The Pixel 2 comes in black and white and in two sizes — with a 5.5” display for the basic version and 6.0” for the XL. The standard Pixel 2 will run $649 and the XL is $849. Quiroz took the opportunity to needle its rival Apple with this, saying there won’t be a performance gap between the two smartphones.
“We don’t set aside better features for the bigger device,” said Quiroz.
And just like Apple’s bet on augmented reality with its ARKit, Google is following suit. The Pixel 2’s camera will come with pre-loaded AR stickers (think Google’s version of Snapchat’s filters). Stickers from the NBA and “Star Wars” are a few of the standouts.
At the same time, Google added to the growing home speaker arms race with a new slate of Home devices. The standout? Home Mini, which will cost a mere $49. (Google clearly wants to get as many speakers in as many homes as possible, finding a way to monetize from there.) For music lovers, Google Home Max will sport dueling 4.5” woofers for that heavy, Future-friendly bass. It’ll run for $399 and start selling in December.
Google’s refined artificial intelligence is aiming to make its devices more adaptable to its users, and that’s evident on Google Home. Users will be able to tell their speakers to call their lost phone — even if its on silent — for example.
Another crowd pleaser: Pixel Buds, its $159 headphones, which will tap into Google’s AI to help users translate conversations in real time. An English speaker lost in Stockholm and looking to find the right words in Swedish just needs to speak to have Google Translate help out.
Other standouts included the Pixelbook laptop, capable of leveraging a user’s phone to connect to the internet, and Google Clips, a $249 mini camera loaded with editing software.
The through line for the entire presentation, however, was Google’s emphasis on AI. CEO Sundar Pichai kicked off the event saying the world is shifting from a mobile-first to AI-first world, and highlighted four core attributes of this change: 1) interacting with computers in a natural and seamless way, 2) AI should be ambient and connect across multiple devices, 3) Ai should be “thoughtfully contextual,” like being able to recommend gyms and food options for fitness-obsessed users, and 4) capable of adapting over time.
“The next big innovation will happen at the intersection of AI, hardware, and software,” as Google SVP of Hardware Rick Osterloh put it. With several high-end products bolstered by AI, Google looks to be taking this claim seriously.