Live: Google unveils Pixel smartphone, Home details – USA TODAY
Long known as a software giant, Google used its San Francisco media event on Tuesday to make a major push into hardware.
Most notably, Google unveiled the sleek Pixel smartphone, a clear rival to Apple and its iPhone. The device is available for pre-order Tuesday, and starts at $649. Google also revealed new details on its Echo-like speaker Google Home, which launches for $129 this November.
For a breakdown of Tuesday’s event, scroll for our live updates:
1:25 p.m.: So far, we have a new smartphone, smart speaker, Wi-Fi networking device, Chromecast and VR headset. That’s a pretty big lineup. Particularly with Pixel, Google is going after Apple in the smartphone market. The live event is over. Thanks for joining us.
1:20 p.m.: A new service called Actions on Google will let developers easily build features for Home. It focuses on Direct actions and Conversational actions. Direct actions focus on simple requests, which Conversational requires extra dialogue, such as requesting a ride from Uber.
1:16 p.m.: Google Home will be available for $129, and include YouTube Red free for six months. It will be available in stores on November 4.
1:15 p.m.: Chromecast Audio plugged into your TV will work with Home to control your TV and speakers. Televisions from companiesÂ including Sony and LG will support this.
1:13 p.m.: Chandra says Netflix will soon work with Home, where users can issue voice commands like watching their favorite show or movie on their TV.
1:11 p.m.: Google partnered with Nest, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT and Philips to support smart home devices, controlled through Home.
1:09 p.m.: Home offers a daily briefing for users, including traffic alerts, reminders and more. A really cool function. It also works great in the kitchen, preparing shopping lists and setting multiple timers.
1:06 p.m.: Chandra moves to seeking answers, where Assistant can seek out the best answer to questions not directly available through Google, such as Wikipedia. Although this is a demo, the Assistant is very responsive.
1:03Â p.m.: Rishi Chandra appears to kick off a Home demo. Every time a userÂ makes a request, the LED lights blink and Home completes the request. For music, it works with YouTube Music, Spotify and Pandora, among others.
1:00 p.m.: And now it’s time to say hello to Google Home, the company’s answer to Amazon Echo. It includes similar functions, including listening to music, asking questions or making requests of the Google Assistant, and controlling devices at home. The surface has LEDS so users know it’s listening. It has a touch screen type input at the top, too.
12:57Â p.m.: Queiroz shifts to entertainment, unveiling Chromecast Ultra, an evolution of the streaming media device. It supports 4K, and is 1.8 times faster to load content, he says. It also supports an ethernet connection. It launches in November for $69.
12:55Â p.m.: Google Wi-Fi will also let users manage access for kids, pausing connections to Wi-Fi. Very cool. It ships in early December, costing $129 for a single device, and $299 for a three-pack.
12:54 p.m.: Google’s Mario Queiroz takes over to talk about tech in the home. He discusses Google Wi-Fi, a system for improving in-home Wi-Fi. It’s modular for the ideal fit in a user’s home. It includes network assist to optimize the network behind the scenes.
12:52Â p.m.: The headset and controller will go on sale in November for $79, says Bavor.
12:50 p.m.: Google Play movies, photos, YouTube and Street View will all work in Daydream. For YouTube, the entire library will be available. Google is working with original creators to get more 360 and VR-ready videos available.
12:48 p.m.: Google is partnering with Warner Bros. to deliver a VR experience based on the film Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. It features players as a wizard casting spells using a remote as a wand. Daydream will also include learning experiences such as StarChart, which looks like a personal planetarium. Google says they’re also working with Netflix and Hulu to bring their libraries to the platform.
12:45Â p.m.: The headset features a small controller similar to a remote with clickable touchpad at the top and two buttons. When users are done with the remote, it fits neatly inside the headset. Although Pixel will be the first Daydream ready phone, other third-party devices will work with the headset.
12:43 p.m.: Bavor says the VR headset was designed using fabrics such as ones used in athletic wear so it’s breathable and comfortable. The headset will also fit well over eyeglasses. It features a latch where users drop the phone in and close it to start using VR. The phone will connect automatically.
12:40 p.m.: Clay Bavor, who heads Google’s VR division, is up next. He starts with Pixel, which will support Google’s VR platform Daydream. Bavor moves on with “a different take on the headset,” called Daydream View. “We wanted to make something that’s comfortable and really easy to use,” says Bavor.
12:37 p.m.: Ellis says Pixel will be available in two sizes: 5-inch screen and 5.5-inch screen. It supports USB-C and is available in either 32 GB and 128 GB. It’s also in three colors: silver, black and blue. Pixel will be available exclusively on Verizon, but is also available as an unlocked option. It starts at $649. and available for pre-order today.
12:35 p.m.: More on Pixel, which will obviously support the Duo video calling service, and up to 7 hours of battery life with 15 minutes of charging. Users get system and security updates and soon as they’re available. All updates download and install in the background. Impressive. “Gone are the days of staring at the progress bar while waiting for updates to install,” says Google’s Sabrina Ellis.
12:32 p.m.: Pixel will also include Google Photos built in, where users can store and organize photos. “We think people are going to use this camera a lot,” says Rakowski. Everyone with a Pixel gets free unlimited storage for photos and video. They close out by stating users will never see the “storage full” message iPhone users are likely familiar with. Google is clearly going after Apple with this phone.
12:28 p.m.: Rakowski shifts to the camera, claiming Pixel received the highest rating from DxOMark Mobile, which rates the quality of DSLR and smartphone cameras. Its rating is 89, compared to 86 for iPhone 7. Interestingly, didn’t see the two-camera iPhone 7 Plus included. The camera also support HDR+. Images looks very sharp.
12:26Â p.m.: After texting his wife about where to eat, Assistant recognizes the restaurant in text and provides related apps such as Maps. It also works with third-party apps including OpenTable for reservations. A very seamless process.
12:24Â p.m.: Rakowski looks up details on tickets from The Lumineers, then seeks out their latest music through YouTube. Rakowski says it will pull up the appropriate app based on which one you use most often.
12:23Â p.m.: Google’s Brian Rakowski leads software product management for Pixel, and is up next to share more on Google’s new smartphone. Assistant includes Pixel built in, accessible through the Home button. So far, Assistant appears quick to respond.
12:22 p.m.: The Pixel is sleek and shiny, featuring a polished aluminum case. “And there’s no unsightly camera bump,” says Osterloh. Someone get Apple the burn cream.
12:19Â p.m.: Osterloh says the goal is to show the very best of Google through hardware, beginning with smartphones. Osterloh introduces the Pixel. Then again, we already knew this yesterday.
12:15Â p.m.: Pichai says the priority is to get its Assistant in front of as many people as possible, starting with Google’s messaging app Allo. Pichai says Assistant will appear on two new hardware platforms: smartphones and the home. Rick Osterloh appears to start with the hardware talk.
12:14 p.m.: For text to speech, deep learning allows for digital assistants that sound more like human beings and less robotic. Pichai imagines assistant becoming so good they can recognize emotion in users’ voices.
12:11Â p.m.: Pichai shares examples of how machine learning and AI work together, starting with Photos to identify what appears in users’ images. The AI can recognize more detail in photos to give more specific captions. Another example: machine translation. Pichai says they’ve just introduce deep learning language translation approaching the level of humans.
12:08 p.m.: Pichai says the goal with Assistant is to give users their own individual Google. Pichai says Google’s knowledge graph has over 70 billion facts, while natural language processing allows the Assistant to hear and respond as if it’s part of everyday conversation.
12:05 p.m.: Pichai discusses the shift in computing from desktops to mobile devices to “an AI first world.” He says computing will be “universally available” and wherever the user wants it. “We’re very excited about this shift and we’ve been working hard toward this shift,” says Pichai.
12:01 p.m. ET: It starts with a clip featuring the actors from HBO show Silicon Valley talking about the Tuesday event. And now we head into the montage portion of the event, featuring a Google Search screen flashing different names before hearing from Google’s digital Assistant. CEO Sundar Pichai takes the stage.
As for what to expect, Google will most likely unveil two smartphones, the Pixel and Pixel XL. Both devices were leaked Monday by a U.K.-based retailer.
Google might also reveal more details about Google Home, its home speaker similar to Amazon’s Echo which will leverage the company’s search engine to let users perform tasks such as search flight information or seek sports and weather updates. The speaker was revealed during Google’s I/O developers conference in May.
Google may also offer a peek at the future of Android with its Andromeda operating system, expected to run on both desktop and mobile devices.
We could learn more about Daydream VR, which is Google’s virtual reality platform. According to Variety, Google is expected to announce a new VR headset priced as little as $79.
Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.