Happy Google day! The search giant announced a handful of new devices, including brand-new Pixel Buds, the mighty Pixel 4 smartphone, and an updated Nest Mini.
The fourth-generation Pixel range has finally been unveiled. Despite an endless succession of hardware leaks, Google managed to land a few surprises at the launch, including a lower-than-expected price tag.
Though I wasn’t able to fly out to New York for the event, I did tune in via Google’s livestream. Here are all the important announcements you missed if you weren’t able to watch.
Rick Osterloh, Google’s senior vice president of devices and services, kicked off the event, and he talked a bit about how great it would be / great it is when you have all sorts of devices intermingling in your house to help you out throughout your day. That includes Stadia, Google’s cloud-gaming platform, which will now officially launch in the U.S. on November 19. Announcement number one!
Editor's Note: An official Australian launch has not yet been announced for Google Stadia.
Google teased new earbuds that it’s planning to launch in the spring of 2020 for $US179 ($265). Specs include five hours of battery life on their own and 24 hours of battery life when you’re using a supplemental wireless charging case. They’ll fit nearly flush with your ear and use a hybrid design to seal your ear (for better bass) and a bottom-facing spatial vent to let in exterior sound.
Your Pixel Buds’ volume will automatically adjust depending on the loudness of your exterior condition, and beamforming microphones allow people to hear you easier when you’re chatting.
Editor's Note: Pricing and availability for Australia was not confirmed.
This $US649 ($961), 13mm-thin Chrome OS laptop gives you 12 hours of battery life and weighs a mere two pounds. It comes with “ultra-quiet hush keys” that are allegedly quieter than anything you’ve ever seen on a Google laptop, and the specs aren’t too shabby for a Chrome OS laptop:
Editor's Note: The Pixelbook line has not previously been available in Australia, and given that Australian pricing and availability was not provided for the new model, it can be assumed the Pixelbook Go is not coming to our shores.
Available on October 29 for $79, the Nest Mini is arriving with a brand-new “Sky” colour option and a new wall-mount design for all. According to Google, the Nest Mini has twice as powerful of a bass as the Home Mini, more “clear and natural sound,” and comes with a third microphone to help hear you better.
Nest Mini also has a dedicated machine-learning chip with 1 TeraOPS of computing power. This means processing can run locally on your device, rather than processing in a Google data centre.
Say hello to “Nest Wifi.” You get a router that plugs into your cable modem, and a “wifi point” to expand your coverage with a new bubble of Wi-Fi around your home. Google claims an improvement of 25 per cent of coverage and twice the speed of Google Wifi — I believe that means processing speed, not wireless speeds, for what it’s worth. (The router itself is a 4x4 MU-MIMO device, likely overkill for most people’s needs, and the supplemental access point is a 2X2 MU-MIMO AC1200 device.)
The Nest Wifi also comes with a built-in Google Assistant speaker, so you can just buy one of these instead of buying a Wi-Fi router and a smart speaker. Not bad. You’ll be able to preorder it today, pick one up starting November 5, and the two-pack starts at $399. (The three-pack costs $549.)
Here’s what you’ve been waiting for. Google finally unveiled its latest smartphone, and here’s a quick look at some of the fun that’s packed inside. First, though, the raw details: It’ll hit on October 24 for $1,049 ($1,279 for the XL). You can preorder it today.
Now, to the details. The Pixel 4 comes with a radar sensor built-in, which allegedly gives you super-fast facial detection for phone unlocking — ”Motion Sense,” as Google calls it, which also allows gives you the ability to quickly control your device using gestures. (This is pretty neat.) Also, anything you do with Motion Sense is stored locally on your device and isn’t shared with any other Google services.
Google also announced that it’s pulling in more Google Assistant processing onto the Pixel 4 itself, which should speed up the call-and-response between you and the Assistant (versus having to process your commands at a Google data centre all the time, that is.)
A new “Recorder” app on the Pixel 4 will allow you to have a super-convenient transcription of whatever it is you’re hearing in real-time — great for lectures and meetings, for sure. Finding specific recordings by searching for words and phrases is simple, and every instance of that word or phrase is highlighted on your recording’s timeline for extra convenience. As a journalist, I love this feature, and would use it frequently.
The Pixel 4 comes with an OLED display and a 90Hz refresh rate. The refresh rate will automatically adjust based on what you’re doing, to reduce how much battery you’re burning when you don’t need that much firepower.
As for the Pixel 4's photographic features, you get rear, wide, and telephoto cameras, as well as a “hyperspectral sensor” and a microphone. To Google, however, the camera specs don’t seem to be nearly as important as the software that helps power the entire process.
For example, Google is using a hybrid of optical and digital zoom to increased the clarity of your image when you’re zooming in. In fact, Google recommends zooming instead of just shooting a big, faraway shot and cropping — the more you know.
Google also announced four other interesting computational photography features for the Pixel 4 at the event:
Live HDR+, or using machine learning to approximate, in your viewfinder, what your HDR+ shot might look like. Additionally, Dual Exposure Controls, which let you adjust the brightness and shadows while you’re planning your picture
White Balancing. Now, all photo modes benefit from learning-based white balancing. In other words, you’ll have more accurate colours, especially when you’re taking pictures in tougher situations.
Portrait Mode, where depth is computed via machine learning to increase the accuracy of portrait mode and allow you to use the feature with additional objects (and greater distances).
Night Sight. Improved Night Sight for improved astrophotography, in case you like shooting the stars (or anything that demands longer exposures).