Google has always taken pride in their software. They are SO GOOD at it that they manage to make better apps for iOS than for Android. Despite their multiple hardware pushes, their presence is more prevalent in their software and search business. Mobile is the norm and companies are now looking forward to the next thing. Google has decided to focus on Machine Learning and AI as the Next Big Thing. Since it would be difficult to let its hardware partners dictate this vision, Google has decided to do it themselves. They want it to be MadeByGoogle.
DISCLAIMER: Most of the images are taken from Google’s #MadeByGoogle website.
Google has announced a slew of devices in their Oct. 4 event. This includes Pixel, the first smartphone fully designed by Google. It also has two devices that lead to a connected home: Google Home and Google WiFi. Daydream View brings Google’s vision of VR to the masses, and Chromecast Ultra provides the best media streaming experience for the home.
All the new hardware is centered on Google’s newest gamble: Google Assistant. Using machine learning and AI, Google is banking their future on these new hardware and Google Assistant. Without further ado, let me show you what Google has in store for us:
The Google Phone: Pixel
Google has now realized that the phone is really the center of our lives. If they want to ensure that they could move beyond the search box we know and love, they need great hardware that works so well with their software. They need a phone that is MadeByGoogle.
Say hello to Pixel, the first smartphone that’s fully designed by Google. Hardcore Android fanboys will tell you that HTC manufactures this phone. All HTC did though was to follow what Google wants and that’s it. Since I was really frustrated at how Android OEMs ruin the Android experience, I was glad to know that Google’s doing this.
Google is heavily pushing Pixel to be one of the pillars that drive Google Assistant. It lets you get answers to various questions, manage everyday tasks such as making table reservations, be entertained by playing music and checking tours of your favorite artists, find photos faster thanks to integration with Google Photos, and help you keep tabs on travel.
Google also boasts that Pixel has the “highest-rated” smartphone camera based on DxOMark’s ratings. We’ll have to see if that claim is true.
Google’s new smartphone comes in two sizes: the 5″-screened Pixel and the 5.5″-screened Pixel XL. It comes in three colors: Quite Black, Very Silver, and a limited edition Really Blue. Google says that their Quite Black color is the blackest smartphone, even blacker than the Jet Black iPhone 7.
I’ll leave a link here for the Pixel’s tech specs since I’m not here to just tell you that. Preorders have started for the Pixel in the US, Canada, UK, and three more countries. The Pixel’s global rollout has yet to be determined so I’m not sure if this will land in the Philippines.
Last year, Amazon started a trend of having an intelligent speaker that accomplishes tasks through your voice with the Echo. Now, Google wants to do the same with Home. It is a connected speaker that also has Google Assistant. It can play music, podcasts, and other forms of audio from YouTube, Spotify and more. Google Home can also answer questions you ask thanks to the power of its Search platform.
You can also control other devices powered by Google just by speaking to Google Home. It’s a nifty feature especially if you have a lot of stuff that’s linked to your Google account.
Google + Wi-Fi = Google WiFi
One problem with our current understanding of Wi-Fi is the fact that one router is good enough. The problem is that there are always dead spots! There will be times that the Wi-Fi connection is sloppy and sometimes nonexistent! A company is currently solving this very issue: Eero. They came up with the concept of mesh networking that helps in providing an efficient Wi-Fi system. Now here is one that’s MadeByGoogle.
Google WiFi provides that very same mesh networking and some Google smarts. It uses machine learning to determine which router offers the best connection to the device that connects to the system. I have yet to see if this will have a significant difference with Eero’s system. Google’s device sure is cheaper: one device costs $129 compared to Eero’s $199.
Google is really dipping their toes in a lot of places. One of those things is Virtual Reality, a trend that Oculus revived with the Rift. Other companies like HTC and Samsung also put out their vision for VR. Now, Google has its own vision with Daydream. Daydream is a Virtual Reality platform that lets Google and its partner manufacturers provide VR experiences through the smartphone. It’ll have a required set of specifications in order for a phone to be compatible.
The Daydream View is a VR headset that lets you get that experience with a Daydream-capable phone. The design is really refreshing since it looks like clothes. It also comes with a controller that helps you interact with the surroundings you see in VR.
This device will arrive in the US in November for just $79. Again, no news of availability in the Philippines.
A High-Powered Chromecast
The one device from Google that has lasted long as far as I can remember is the Chromecast. It’s a dead simple way to get content from your various devices to the TV. Despite every other competitor out there, the Chromecast provides a great blend of simplicity and affordability that others don’t have. Now, they just got that formula and put it on steriods.
The Chromecast Ultra is a more powerful version of the Chromecast. It supports 4K video output and HDR (all kinds of it). It also adapts to your internet setup at home. If your Wi-Fi connection cannot carry the weight of 4K, then you can use the Chromecast Ultra’s built-in Ethernet adapter. The device can also adjust depending on what TV you have. Best of all, it only costs $69. You don’t need to spend a lot just to have 4K content on your TV.
I Like MadeByGoogle.
All in all, I think Google is making a statement with their newfound hardware push. I like this because it has the potential to give Apple a run for its money. As much as I love Apple, I want it to be pushed to its limits by Google. I want to know that Apple still has that innovative edge. If Google manages to succeed in doing that, then get ready for a more heated competition with Apple.
Sure, there are still lingering doubts as to whether how successful the Pixel phone would be. Or whether Google can handle support better this time around. I’m just happy to know that Google is not holding it back anymore. No more “reference designs”. Lesser half steps and now more of a coherent vision.
This holiday season will be the testing ground. Good luck, Google.
How about you guys? Are you excited for this new hardware push from Google? Are you planning to get anything from this lineup? Do you think this sucks? Sound off in the comments below!