At the private Made by Google 2017 event in San Francisco, CA, Google announced new hardware. Products shown off included Pixel 2 smartphones, new Google Home speakers, a Chromebook Pixel successor in Pixelbook, a new Daydream View, Pixel Buds, and Google Clips. Of them, Pixel Buds and Google Clips were among the unexpected, and are the first of their respective kinds. Pixel Buds is a set of wireless earphones complete with integrated Google Assistant, and Google Clips is a camera that operates automatically. Here’s the rundown of these two new products.
Starting with the Google Pixel Buds, this product has certainly been anticipated, but was never certain. The headphones, made by Google, that were once thought to be code-named ‘Bisto‘ are now official aside from the Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones that went official last week.
The Pixel Buds are a bluetooth set of earbuds containing support for the Google Assistant via a control button on the right ear via swipe gestures. The earbuds themselves are nondescript: if you’ve seen earbuds, there isn’t so much to differentiate between these particular earbuds and any of the competitors. They’re basically Google’s version of the Apple Air Pods, with some added features and touches of course to make them better. The earbuds are linked via a loop, which should help you not lose them, and each bud also has two little pogo charger ports for the included charger case that holds 24 hours worth of charge, which according to Google, is about five charges. The Pixel Buds include a fast charging technology, where a ten minute charge can provide up to one hour of use. And the charger case, made of a soft knit fabric material, is recharged using a USB Type-C port.
As for features, at their core the Google Pixel Buds are a high-quality set of wireless earbuds, including a noise-cancelling microphone and touch control for music pause, play and volume. However, touching and holding on the right earbud activates the Google Assistant (providing the host smartphone has the Google Assistant installed), and from here you can use all Google Assistant features such as placing calls, sending messages, and setting reminders. One big feature of the Google Pixel Buds is the ability to use Google Translate as a near real-time translation system. This could be great news when travelling, for example. 40 languages are supported right now, and machine learning allows recognition to improve with time and use.
The Google Pixel Buds is said to be compatible with most Android devices running Android 5.0 Lollipop or later, and iPhones running iOS 10 or later. However, for the full experience, Google recommends an Android smartphone running at least Android 6.0 Marshmallow, as this will enable the Google Assistant technology. Currently, iPhone users will not gain access to the integrated Google Assistant. The Pixel Buds are currently available for pre-order at $159. They come in three colors: Just Black, Clearly White, Kinda Blue (with matching case). Orders will ship in November.
Google’s ‘just one more thing’ product at the Made by Google 2017 event was their box-shaped smart camera, the Google Clips, which includes built-in artificial intelligence. At this juncture, details are scant. Though we know what the Google Clips camera can do, and how much it will retail for, we don’t know too much about the camera specifications.
The Google Clips is designed for passive use, so in some respects it’s closer to a security camera rather than a portable camera, or one on your smartphone. The camera is two inches wide and comes in just one color, White and Teal. Google has designed the camera to be positioned somewhere where it can see the action, but will figure out for itself if it needs to capture a short video, called a ‘motion photo’ by Google. The Google Clips doesn’t capture audio, and it doesn’t connect to your home Wi-Fi network either – instead, when you are ready to see what the camera has captured, connect your smartphone through an app to take a look. The camera can provide output via short video clips, still photographs, or animated GIF files. And the video can even be streamed to your phone in real time. Currently, the Google Clips is only compatible with a limited number of Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy handsets from 2016 and later but this should hopefully change in the coming months.
The Google Clips includes built-in artificial intelligence so that it recognizes people and pets, and learns when to record moments worth recording. The underlying purpose here is to get you, normally the photo-taker, in shots, hassle-free. The device is built so that it can be attached – or clipped – pretty much anywhere, and of course it’s portable too. This means you can place it around the house or even wear it, and let the artificially intelligent Google Clips camera decide what to record. It’s an interesting take on the means to create memories but at the same time, it does sound creepy. The camera has an LED that lets people know they are being recorded and the inability to capture sound means the Google Clips ducks under any wiretapping regulation. Plus, nothing leaves device until you share it.
Under the skin, we know that the Google Clips comes with 16GB of local storage and a battery providing up to three hours of passive smart capturing time. It can let you know when the lens is blocked via a notification to your smartphone, and it includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct networking technologies. The camera has a 130-degree field of view and is protected by Gorilla Glass 3. Charging is via a USB Type-C port. We also understand the camera sensor is a 12MP unit capable of recording at up to 15 frames per second, and the software seeks stable, clear pictures that can be uploaded to Google Photos and later put into movies, and auto-creations, which you’ll be able to see from wherever you are. There’s an additional shutter button on top as well, just in case you want to shoot manually. It will cost $249 when released, but at this time, we don’t know its release date nor availability.
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