Google Pixel phones unveiled along with Home speaker

Google Pixel Phones

Tech giant Google has revealed its newest smartphones, called Pixel, as well as a voice-activated speaker to challenge Amazon’s Echo.

The phones are seen as providing competition to Siri, featuring a new artificial intelligence system known as Google Assistant. They are the first phones to have the Assistant (which is triggered by pressing the home button), as well as to be created solely by Google, rather than another manufacturer like the Nexus phones were.

Two of the main features about the Assistant are that it can build on previous commands or questions – creating more of a conversation between user and device – and also being able to link information on more than 70 billion facts together. This is thanks to it making use of Google’s Knowledge Graph database, which has been around for some time now.

The Pixel phone comes in two different sizes: the standard one has a screen size of 5 inches, while the Pixel XL has a screen size of 5.5 inches, with both of them having OLED screens.

The phones both have a 12.3MP rear camera, and use the latest Android 7.1 (Nougat) Operating System. They also have some very quirky colour names – Quite Black, Very Silver, or Really Blue. Still, at least they’re self-explanatory, compared to other products which have descriptions like ‘Fusion Neon’. I mean, what?

However, the phone’s price is rather surprising, being extremely expensive. The basic 32Gb Pixel phone costs £599, the same as the latest Samsung Galaxy S7 on release, and the 32Gb Apple iPhone 7, both regarded as the two market leaders. Meanwhile the Pixel XL costs £719, and to upgrade either of them to 128Gb of storage, it costs an extra £100. That’s a lot of money.

It remains to be seen whether customers decide to pay out for Google’s new offerings, but it could be the start of a serious shakeup to the luxury smartphone market, generally dominated by Samsung and Apple.

Meanwhile, Google’s Home speaker is a challenger to the Echo speaker from Amazon, also making use of the Assistant to let users control it through speech. The smart speaker is activated by the words “OK Google”, and can work with other devices such as smart home products, similarly to the Echo.

Also unveiled by Google was a new and improved Virtual Reality (VR) headset, called Daydream View. Costing £69, the headset is similar in design to the Samsung Gear VR headset, where you place your own phone in the front of the headset and use VR apps, and is much more comfortable to wear than the cheaper alternative, Google Cardboard.

The company also showed off a new Chromecast, also costing £69. The Chromecast Ultra can play 4K quality video streams through your devices, and connect with Google’s Home.

Image courtesy of Google