Tech conglomerate Google has completely changed the way we interact with the world since unveiling their pilot search engine in 1997. From other Internet-altering software like the Chrome browser and Drive and Gmail apps to their 2006 purchase of YouTube, the company has consistently been at the forefront of technological development, and is currently in the top two most valuable brands in the world, along with Apple.
It’s no secret that Google and Apple have been rivals for decades, with the former company proving strong competition after they cornered the smartphone market with their release of the iPhone in 2007. Google has been playing catch-up with smartphones ever since, despite their acclaimed Android OS, with Apple selling over one billion iPhones worldwide to date. As buzz about the latest iPhone 7 builds, Google is looking to finally release a competing device that includes both their hardware and software, and the company finally unveiled the result of all of that work in a conference that streamed live on YouTube. The company also demo’d their new virtual reality technology, which will rival Samsung’s Gear.
Google’s new smartphone, the Pixel, is an attempt to reinvent what most consumers already love. The phone may look very similar to an iPhone, but it sports a host of new specs that excited the crowd at today’s earlier conference. For one, Pixel features an extremely hi-res camera, sporting 12.3 megapixels, that can take high-quality photos in low light and comes with a burst mode. It’s the highest-rated smartphone camera to date, at least according to the guys at DxOMark, and utilizes gyroscopic technology to take shake-free video. Google is also offering free unlimited storage for photos and videos to Pixel owners, so that each user’s high-quality images don’t eat up all 32 and 128 GB offerings of storage. The phone also features a fingerprint sensor on the back, an aluminum and glass body, and — yes — a headphone jack. Pixel in 5-inch and 5.5-inch (Pixel XL) versions, and color options include Very Silver, Quite Black, and Really Blue (a U.S. exclusive). You can check out Google’s spot detailing what Pixel has to offer, above.
Google also debuted its new Daydream VR software, along with the Daydream View headset. The headset, which retails at just $79 (compared to Samsung Gear’s $499 price tag) is notably made from comfortable materials that emphasize wearability. View is designed with convenience in mind, and wirelessly syncs up with the Pixel — the only smartphone currently compatible with Daydream software. Google offered consumers a first look at the immersion Daydream can offer, and its entertainment possibilities. The company is touting View’s gaming capabilities, which allow the wearer to wield its remote like a controller. This potential has been maximized in anticipation of the upcoming Harry Potter film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, resulting in a game that allows View users to step into the Wizarding World and use the View remote as a wand. Take a look at Google’s spot about Daydream View, which illustrates some of these experiences, below.
This summary has just touched the tip of this latest technological iceberg, as both Pixel and View tout several hardware and software features. The Pixel notably spotlights the Assistant AI, Google’s answer to Siri, which is able to interact with the user’s phone screen and contextualize its searches based on that information. Assistant also heads up another of Google’s latest technology projects, the Home, which mimics new tech like the Amazon Echo. This latest reveal also showed off a new Chromecast device which streams in 4K, as well as Google Wifi, Google’s solution to the in-house router.
Google is really leaping into the hardware game, with enough new tech to make your head spin, but it looks like the pioneering company may have hit on another success (or five). Pixel does sport a number of exclusive features, and it looks like Assistant has the potential to be way more helpful than Siri. That VR headset price will also undoubtedly open up that technology to a lot more people, which means that Google may be the company to finally bring us into a new age of virtual reality. We wouldn’t put it past Google to upend the technological landscape once again, and these just might be the devices to do it. In the end, though there are some head-scratching aspects to these newest offerings — like Pixel’s conspicuously home button-less front — it looks like Google is about to release some really exciting things, and we can’t wait for the reviews and unboxings to pour in.
The Google Pixel is currently available for pre-order, and there is now a waitlist going for the Daydream View VR headset. Information for both can be found here.