Google gets aggressive with new phones, other gadgets

Google gets aggressive with new phones, other gadgets
Google CEO Sundar Pichai talks about the new Google Assistant during a product event, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, in San Francisco. Google launched an aggressive challenge to Apple and Samsung, introducing its own new line of smartphones called Pixel, which are designed to showcase a digital helper the company calls "Google Assistant." The new phones represent a big new push by Google to sell its own consumer devices, instead of largely just supplying software for other manufacturers. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Google launched an aggressive challenge to consumer electronics giants like Apple and Samsung on Tuesday, introducing a new line of smartphones called Pixel and other gadgets designed to showcase a digital helper the company calls "Google Assistant."

The new devices represent a big push by Google to make and sell its own hardware, instead of largely just supplying software for other manufacturers. At a starting price of roughly $650, the new Pixel phones are aimed at the same markets as Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy flagship phones.

GADGETS ON PARADE

During a press event Tuesday, Google executives showed off a series of gadgets in rapid succession. Its new Home device is a sleek internet-connected speaker that's designed to respond to voice commands, like Amazon's popular Echo. A new virtual reality headset called Daydream View will work with the new Pixel phones and other devices based on Google's Android software. The company also unveiled a new Wi-Fi router and an update to the company's Chromecast streaming media device.

In announcing the new Pixel phones, Google executives touted features like a powerful camera, a long-lasting battery—and a dedicated headphone jack, which Apple recently eliminated from its latest iPhones. The Pixel phones will be sold in two screen sizes—5 inches and 5.5 inches—and three colors: black, silver and blue.

Google gets aggressive with new phones, other gadgets
Sabrina Ellis, Google director of product management, talks about the colors of the new Google Pixel phone during a product event, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, in San Francisco. The new phones represent a big, new push by Google to sell its own consumer devices, instead of largely just supplying software for other manufacturers. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

But they're clearly hoping the new Pixel phones and other devices will be distinguished by their use of Google's software. A central element of all the is the Google Assistant, which uses to deliver what CEO Sundar Pichai described as "a personal Google for each and every user."

Pichai said the company's goal is to let customers interact "naturally and seamlessly" with artificial intelligence through devices like the Home device and their smartphone.

Still, while Google showed its new Assistant performing a variety of impressive tasks, analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy cautioned that similar services, which include Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana, don't always live up to their early promises.

On the other hand, Moorhead said in an email that Google was smart to emphasize the performance of the new smartphone cameras, since "consumers care about this a lot." But he said other features in the new phones didn't seem that much different from what Samsung and Apple have offered in their latest devices.

Google gets aggressive with new phones, other gadgets
Clay Bavor, Google vice president of virtual reality, talks about the Daydream View virtual-reality headset during a product event, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, in San Francisco. It will differ from other headsets like Samsung's Gear VR in having a companion motion controller and compatibility with a wide range of phones, including Google's new Pixel phones. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE, TOGETHER AGAIN

The products announced Tuesday also underscore Google's hope that its products and services will work better if the company designs its own hardware and software together—something Apple has long done.

That's also a model that Microsoft has begun following, with its own brand of Surface tablets and laptop computers that use Microsoft's Windows software. But analysts warned that Google runs the risk of alienating partners like Samsung, LG and other companies that sell competing Android gadgets.

Android now powers the majority of smartphones sold around the world. But Samsung, the biggest maker of Android phones, has increasingly been adding more of its own software—even its own Samsung Pay mobile wallet—on the phones it sells. Another big rival, Apple, has built its own services, such as online maps and its own Siri personal assistant, to replace Google's apps on the iPhone.

Google gets aggressive with new phones, other gadgets
Brian Rakowski, Google vice president of product management, talks about the camera in the new Google Pixel phone during a product event, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Google, which is best known for its widely used internet search engine, makes most of its money from online software and digital ads. But it's putting more emphasis on hardware as it competes for consumers' attention with other leading tech firms.

In recent years, Google has sold smartphones and tablets under the Nexus brand, which it launched in 2010 as a way to show off the best features of its Android software. But it put relatively little effort into promoting those devices, which have mostly ended up in the hands of Google purists.

The new Pixel phones will be sold online, through retail chains like Best Buy and various wireless carriers around the world, although the company said it has an exclusive deal with Verizon in the United States.

Google gets aggressive with new phones, other gadgets
Clay Bavor, Google vice president of virtual reality, talks about the Daydream View virtual-reality headset during a product event, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, in San Francisco. It will differ from other headsets, like Samsung's Gear VR, in having a companion motion controller and compatibility with a wide range of phones, including Google's new Pixel phones. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

HOME, BUT NOT ALONE

Like the Pixel phones, the Home device uses the digital Google Assistant service, a voice-activated personal butler that can search the internet, play music or perform other useful tasks. Google Assistant is the company's answer to similar concierge services from rivals, including Siri, Amazon's Alexa and Microsoft's Cortana.

Google said the Home device will sell for roughly $130 online and at electronics retailers starting next month. Along with answering questions and playing music, the device can be used to control streaming video through Google's Chromecast device, at voice command.

Home-based systems like the Echo are taking on more importance as voice technology has improved, said analyst Julie Ask of Forrester Research. "You can't assume somebody is going to go sit down at a computer or pick up a phone and type in a question anymore," she said.

  • Google gets aggressive with new phones, other gadgets
    Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during a product event, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, in San Francisco. Google launched an aggressive challenge to Apple and Samsung, introducing its own new line of smartphones called Pixel, which are designed to showcase a digital helper the company calls "Google Assistant." The new phones represent a big, new push by Google to sell its own consumer devices, instead of largely just supplying software for other manufacturers. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
  • Google gets aggressive with new phones, other gadgets
    In this May 18, 2016 file photo, Google vice president Mario Queiroz gestures while introducing the new Google Home device during the keynote address of the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif. On Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, the search giant will ramp up its consumer electronics strategy with expected announcements of new gadgets including new smartphones and an internet-connected personal-assistant for the home similar to Amazon's Echo speaker. All are intended to showcase Google's software and online services. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

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Oct 04, 2016
I really wonder about the legalities with regards to these things. I have got to assume these devices are constantly listening. If one was involved in a crime, or planning something that could be construed as a crime, would the police/government be able to tap into this device and listen at will? Would the recorded information be admissible in court? What is the limitation on privacy when it comes to these devices?
If you have one of these in your home will you have to be constantly on alert that you dont say something offensive or potentially criminal for fear that it would be used against you at some later date?

I know our smartphones already do this for the most part (listen and record the last X seconds) and Im sure this question has been asked before, but a device dedicated to the home seems like that much more of a concern privacy wise... maybe Im just being paranoid :S

Oct 05, 2016
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Oct 05, 2016
These companies are all the same. Get the geeky-looking CEO or whomever to come out (under-dressed so he appeals to his d.b. Millennial audience) to come out and make grand announcements. Guess what? Google, like Blackberry is the man drowning going down for a second time, as far as hardware goes. There will NOT be a third time.

Oct 05, 2016
Wow!! Google almost managed to copy the iPhone from several years ago.

Oct 05, 2016
If one was involved in a crime, or planning something that could be construed as a crime, would the police/government be able to tap into this device and listen at will?
What if mobile phone assistant would advice or help to organize the criminal plot, could be Google made co-responsible for it?


I doubt it, google for some reason seems to never get held responsible for what it includes "on its site" (IE, hyperlinks) but any other smaller site with much less money seems to be raked over the coals.

Though that would be a fun court case lol

Oct 05, 2016
Before you run off and get that new Google spying device you should perhaps listen to what Eric Schmidt has to say on privacy.
https://www.youtu...7wfDHzew

Oct 05, 2016
These companies are all the same. Get the geeky-looking CEO or whomever to come out (under-dressed so he appeals to his d.b. Millennial audience) to come out and make grand announcements. Guess what? Google, like Blackberry is the man drowning going down for a second time, as far as hardware goes. There will NOT be a third time.

Dumb pharks are all the same......

Oct 05, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

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