Google Launches New ‘Pixel’ Phones, Updated Mobile VR Headset

New smart home products, AR features also part of retail product refresh
Google hardware upate.jpg

Google unveiled a its new lineup of retail hardware products Wednesday, led by a new ‘Pixel 2’ lineup that will compete with new smartphones from rivals such as Apple and Samsung.

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Following last year’s intro of the original Android-powered Pixel smartphone, The Pixel 2 lineup includes a five-inch model starting at $649, and an XL version with a six-inch, curved screen starting at $849. Verizon has an exclusive preorder window for the Pixel 2 via the My Verizon app that starts today at 3pm ET.

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Both models are optimized to work with Google Daydream View, the company’s mobile virtual reality headset. They’ll also support Google Lens, an A.I.-driven, object detection capability that provides more contextual info about images and photos (for example, Lens can provide reviews about an movie or a book from an image of a movie poster or a book cover).

With preorders opening today, the Pixel 2 lineup will also build on Google’s work around augmented reality, including a new AR “stickers” that can interact with the user’s surroundings and with other AR stickers. Among examples shown, there’s a set of AR stickers based on characters from Netflix original series, Stranger Things.

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On the VR front, Google introduced an updated model of the Daydream View that includes upgraded lenses and a new fabric that makes the headset more lightweight. It sells for $99 and will support some new premium video content, including VR originals from YouTube, and some movies from IMAX that will be exclusive to the platform via Google Play.

Google also expanded its smart home hub lineup with the Home Mini, a product that will compete with devices such as Amazon’s Echo Dot, and support 360-degree sound and fetch $49. It’s available on pre-order today and hitting stores on October 19.

Also new to the lineup is the Home Max, a new top-of-the-line product in the category for Google that, works with the rest of the Google Home family and will become available in December for $399. Buyers are also in line for a bundled 12-month subscription to YouTube Red.

Google did not announce any new Chromecast products, but did announce that the company has shipped more than 55 million Chromecasts (adapters and built-in) devices worldwide.

New Google Home features include a “broadcast” component that, like an intercom, lets users deliver a message to all other Google devices in the home.

Earlier into the event, Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, outlined the core strategy that’s underpinning the company’s products, noting that the company is prepared to pivot from a mobile-first to an "A.I.-first" world.

“It’s radially rethinking how computing should work,” he said, noting that the aim is for consumers to interact with computing in more natural and seamless ways.

That philosophy, he said, means Google’s push into the future will be led by a combination of A.I. with software and hardware.


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