What You Need to Know About Google's Hardware Event

Pixel smartphones and digital assistants as far as the eye can see.
October 4, 2016, 4:49pm
The Pixel. Image: Google

Google Pixel smartphones

As expected, the Nexus name is gone for Google's phones, replaced by "Pixel," which comes in 5" and 5.5" sizes and have identical specs other than the battery (2770 mAh and 3450 mAh, respectively). Unlike most of the Nexus phones, it's not mid-priced, instead starting at $649 in the United States.

There's no camera bump, and it's made for virtual reality (more on that shortly). DXOMark, which rates digital cameras, gave the Pixel's camera an 89 rating, its highest ever for a smartphone. It includes a "SmartBurst" mode to take multiple photos by holding down the shutter, there's no shutter lag, even using HDR+ mode, and apparently it has a faster response time than any other smartphone camera Google tested. There's newly implemented stabilization for videos as well. And on top of all that, Pixel owners will get unlimited "original quality" (no resolution downsizing or re-encoding whatsoever) storage of the photos and videos on Google Photos.

Pixel's quick charging will give you "up to 7 hours" of use with 15 minutes of charging. Google has a new video chat app (for both Android and iOS) called Duo, which includes "knock knock," or live streaming video of the caller before you answer. It will also ship with the Pixel. Customer support baked into the phone, including screen sharing, picking up a good feature that's on Amazon's Fire devices. Finally, the new migration tool that works cross-platform, including migrating iMessages.

Daydream, Google's budding VR initiative

The new Daydream View VR headset is designed with comfort in mind, being covered in fabric and designed to fit over glasses. It also comes in multiple colors, seemingly with the idea that people will buy it to match their clothes, as if it's something to be worn outside of the house. Demos shown included a game inspired by the work of J.K. Rowling and museum tours. Expect more from us on Daydream View later today.

Google Wifi, a new wireless router

Image: Google

Google Wifi, the company's new router, lets you manage Wi-Fi access specifically for your kids, enabling you to "press pause" on their access. Shipping in December with preorders coming a month earlier, it goes for $149 or $249 for a set of three.

An update Chromecast

Image: Google

The new Chromecast Ultra supports 4K, HDR, and Dolby Vision. It's "1.8x faster" than the second generation Chromecast, includes an ethernet port of some kind, and will be out for $69 in November.

Home, Google's take on the Amazon Echo

Image: Google

Google Home allows hands-free music playback, search, task management, and of course controlling the smart home. The device itself includes dual speakers and a far-field microphone system. It can play songs you don't know the name of with "Play that Shakira song from Zootopia" being the example that was given. It integrates with your Pixel for things like building shopping lists, as well as your Chromecast for video playback. "When you know what you wanna watch, just ask for it!" So far, it looks like YouTube and Netflix will both be integrated. Shipping November 4th, pre-orders are available today at $129, with six months of YouTube Red included. Six different colors are available for the base of the device, as well.

This is a developing story.