Google unveiled its newest Pixel handsets, aiming to boost its smartphone market share with features including gesture recognition. Picture: AFP
Google unveiled its newest Pixel handsets, aiming to boost its smartphone market share with features including gesture recognition. Picture: AFP

Wild new feature on Google phone

GOOGLE has unveiled its much-anticipated new Pixel 4 smartphone, as well as a new laptop, wireless earbuds, and a range of other smart devices to rival Apple and other competitors.

The gadgets were revealed to a packed room at Google's annual hardware showcase in New York City on Tuesday, where the focus was on privacy, sustainability, and "ambient technology" - smart devices that seamlessly enhance daily life without being intrusive.

Here's a breakdown of Google's new products.

 

PIXEL 4 SMARTPHONE

 

The Pixel 4, with a 5.7-inch display, and the Pixel 4 XL, with a 6.3-inch display, come with a raft of wild features.

They are the first smartphones to feature Motion Sense; technology powered by a radar chip that allows you to skip songs, silence calls or lower the volume of an alarm with the wave of a hand over the screen.

 

 

Quick Gestures allows you to do a lot without touching your phone, which is intended to come in handy when you need to be hands-free, such as when cooking, eating, or driving.

Face Unlock is another exciting feature. Attendees at the Google unveiling in New York were shocked by how fast the feature worked - it was as though the Pixel didn't have a lock screen at all.

The speed is due to the Motion Sense radar capability, which senses the user reaching for the phone and readies Face Unlock in anticipation.

Making interaction with the Pixel 4 even more seamless is the upgraded Google Assistant integration. Voice command possibilities have been vastly improved; as Google staff demonstrated, you can find out when a favourite band is playing near you, invite a friend to go with you and find tickets all through voice command.

 

 

Google Assistant is also a key part of privacy improvements - you can ask Google to delete data from the last day or week simply by asking it.

The Pixel 4 also features a game-changing new recording app, which made the press contingent in the room audibly gasp.

It can transcribe audio into text in real-time, making the time-consuming task of transcribing a university lecture, interview or meeting a thing of the past.

Pixel 4 features a 90hz OLED auto-adjusting screen called Smooth Display, which will optimise colour, scrolling and video playing.

But the upgraded camera might be the Pixel 4's most exciting feature.

Pixel 4 has a 16-MP 2x telephoto camera at the back to go with its 12-MP primary camera.

The Pixel 4's 2x telephoto camera works with the Super Res Zoom feature Google to deliver up to a 10x hybrid zoom, a feature that caused the crowd gathered in New York to break into cheers and applause when demoed with a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge taken from much further away than it appeared.

The Pixel's camera also has new and improved modes. Portrait mode has been updated, allowing for even better portraits and selfies.

Live HDR+ allows the user to tap the screen to adjust brightness and shadow while focusing to take the shot, rather than fixing it up afterwards.

Night Sight is also vastly improved, and comes with an astrophotography mode specially designed for taking photos of the night sky.

 

An image of the night sky taken on the Pixel 4. Picture: Google
An image of the night sky taken on the Pixel 4. Picture: Google

 

The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL come in three colours - Clearly White, Just Black, and a limited edition, Oh So Orange - and with either 64GB or 128GB of storage.

Prices start at A$1049 for the Pixel 4 and $1,279 for the Pixel XL.

Pixel 4 will be available from October 24 at Telstra, Vodafone, Optus, JB Hi Fi, Harvey Norman, Officeworks and the Google Store.

 

PIXEL BUDS

Apple should be nervous about Pixel Buds, Google's answer to Air Pods.

 

Google unveiled Pixel Buds, a rival to Apple’s Air Pods.
Google unveiled Pixel Buds, a rival to Apple’s Air Pods.

 

The wireless bluetooth earbuds can stay connected up to three rooms away from your phone, meaning you can leave your mobile in the locker while at the gym, or inside the house while in your backyard.

Pixel Buds automatically adjust to the ambient volume around you - say when you move from a quiet office to a noisy street - and are smaller and lighter than Air Pods.

Pixel Buds will be available in the first quarter of 2020 and will be priced at US$179 ($A264).

 

 

NEST MINI AND NEST WI-FI

Google introduced Nest Mini, the smaller version of its smart speaker.

Powered by Google Assistant, Nest promises to transform home life even further, allowing for seamless control over heating and cooling, lights, alarms, locks, TVs and more.

 

Google’s Nest Mini.
Google’s Nest Mini.

 

As demoed at the New York event, the user can be watching a TV show in the kitchen, then instruct Nest to start playing the same TV show in the loungeroom. Or, you can be listening to a podcast in the bedroom and instruct Nest to continue playing it in the car.

Audio quality has also been improved. Nest Mini provides bass that's twice as strong as the original Google Home Mini (measured from 60-100 Hz at max volume).

Google is also releasing a Nest Wi-fi router which improves internet coverage in homes, and allows for added controls, such as pausing wi-fi on kids' devices when it's time for bed.

Nest Mini comes in four colours - Chalk, Charcoal, Coral, and the new Sky. It's covered in a custom, durable fabric top made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, and the external enclosure is made from at least 35% post-consumer recycled plastic.

It's also designed to be wall-mounted.

You can buy Mini in Australia for RRP $79. It's available to pre-order now from the Google Store, JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman and The Good Guys. You'll find Nest Mini on shelves at those retailers and more from October 29.

Nest Wifi, meanwhile, is also available for preorder today and will be on sale in Australia from November 5. A two-pack with one router and one point will retail for RRP $399, or a three-pack with one router and two points will cost RRP $549 at the Google Store, JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, The Good Guys and more retailers in the coming months.

 

PIXELBOOK GO

The Pixelbook Go is a cheaper version of previous Google laptops.


The 13.3-inch touchscreen, 1080p display Chromebook is made out of magnesium, has soft, rounded corners and is ribbed for easier grip.

The battery is 15 per cent larger - allowing for up to 12 hours of use - and it has ultra-quiet Hush Keys.

Pixelbook Go comes in two shades (black and sandstone) and starts at US$649 (Australian price TBC).

 

STADIA

Google will launch its Stadia streaming game service in the US on November 19, hoping to send console-quality play soaring into the cloud.

Stadia allows video game play on any internet-connected device, eliminating the need for games consoles as long as you have the wireless Stadia controller.

It will be priced at US$9.99 per month and compete against Apple Arcade, which is being offered at half that price.

An Australian release date and price for Stadia is TBC.

 

PRIVACY

Google emphasised privacy enhancements in its line of products, with kept more personal data and computing functions on devices instead of sending it to datacenters in the cloud.

"Privacy is built in," Google director of product management Sabrina Ellis said while introducing Pixel 4.

 

 

"New Google Assistant can respond to day-to-day requests on-device."

Data processed on Pixel 4 handsets is "never saved or shared with other Google services," she added.

The smartphones still need to reach into the cloud for requests such as checking whether flights are delayed or commuter traffic troubled.

Pixel 4 users will be able to tell their devices to delete anything said to it that day or week, according to Ellis.

A Titan chip in the handset is also designed as a secure digital vault for personal data.

Google also said it is ramping up investments in renewable energy, aiming to offset all the power required to make its hardware with green power.


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