This year’s Made by Google event has concluded, and Google announced a total of eight new products. We have two new Google Home speakers, two second generation Google Pixel smartphones, the Google Pixelbook, a newer version of the Daydream View, the Google Pixel Buds, and a new standalone smart camera in Google Clips. It’s time to reflect on what we learned and what’s coming. Here’s our full recap containing everything you need to know about.
It has been a crazy Google-packed week. On Wednesday, rather than at Google I/O, the search giant had its second-ever privately held hardware showcase in San Francisco, CA. Google announced new hardware, much unlike its old self, in its new lineup of products, the “Made By Google” family for 2017.
Much unlike other companies, Google surprised us with some unexpected tech at this year’s show, that we had no idea was coming at us. However, there were, of course, some products that we did know a lot about heading into the event, which we’ll get into. But first, Google attended to more series matters. Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, came out the tunnel first and expressed his and the Google community’s sorrow for all the victims involved in recent events. Google continued to show its care in an opening video, where we saw some of the many inspiring things people have built using Google software and development tools. This is always a great thing to see.
Pichai continued his talks aboard a new stage, one that Google has never held an unveiling on in the past. This made us wonder why, considering that the company’s headquarters is located just a few miles to the west. Anyhow, the major point of emphasis, reinstated by Pichai that was first explained at Google I/O 2017 in May, was Google’s commitment to artificial intelligence and deep, or machine learning. Google is transitioning from a “Mobile first to AI first” company to help solve some of the more complex user problems. So in essence, the new family of devices brings together AI with the latest in Google software, to hardware, made by none other than Google itself in just about every stage of the process. When the three come together and are originals made by one company, in this case one of the software kings of the world, it creates a fully optimized experience, one that no other is able to replicate. The new “Made By Google” family isn’t just created for the moment, but for the future, as they get better with both time and use, and are made primarily to withstand time. Google is doing all this through its virtual assistant, the Google Assistant, which can now be found inside over 1,000 smart home products.
Google is primarily a software company, though some may soon second guess that with the acquisition of HTC’s mobile knowledge and intellectual property. Google sits at the top of the ranking for search and organizing the world’s mass information for bringing it up when its needed most. This is Google’s number one goal in satisfying people around the world, and today, they’re doing that in a multitude of ways, some where AI now drives the innovation.
During Google’s event, the company showed some of the progress it has made over recent years. Leaps forward have been made in some of Google’s core services, both over voice and in context. In Maps, over 5,000 km of roads have been mapped with over 50,000 addresses and 100,000 businesses. Google Maps, thanks to AI, can now accurately predict how much parking space is available in thousands of locations, and deliver that information right to your smartphone in real-time. Another example can be seen in translation. With almost 2 billion translations a day over 96 languages, Google Translate can speak with accuracy, just as if it was a real person. Google has experienced success in other areas as well. Google Wi-Fi is the number one selling mesh router worldwide, Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices have exceeded 55 million total shipments, and 100+ million Google Assistant answers have been added in the last year alone. Additionally, Google’s object recognition has become incredibly accurate, so much so that it can pick up on things even the human eye is unable to detect. In fact, it has been crowned as the “best recognition in the world.” And with Google Lens becoming available on Google’s latest smartphones, the technology is bound to get even better.
Turning to the new products, the first to write about would be the two Google Home speakers. The first of these is the Google Home Mini. This is a smaller speaker compared with the original Google Home design and is finished with a touch-sensitive fabric covered roof, and four lights under the fabric. The Google Home Mini can be connected to any Chromecast speaker wirelessly, and will be available in three colors. The second new Google Home speaker is the Google Home Max, which is twenty times more powerful than the original Google Home, and includes ‘Smart Sound’ technology designed to adapt to the user, time of day, and ambient noise.
The next product is the Google Pixelbook, which is a 4-in-1 convertible, premium Chromebook. The machine has a 12.3-inch, 2,400 by 1,600 resolution touchscreen. There are three models that vary in price, storage, RAM and processor, but all use the same design and have a 10-hour battery including a USB Type-C port with fast charging abilities. The Google Pixelbook is the first laptop (and of course the Chromebook) to come with the Google Assistant, and it includes a special hardware key too. The device also fully supports apps downloaded from Google’s Play Store, and there’s an optional $99 Pixel Pen accessory, which does more with its Wacom AES 2.a digitizer including both tilt and pressure sensitivity.
The headliners were undoubtedly the two second generation Google Pixel handsets – the Google Pixel 2 and the Google Pixel 2 XL. The pair isn’t a substantial update, but features some nice enhancements over last year’s models that succeeded the Nexus line. The Google Pixel 2 has a 5.-inch, 16:9, 1080p resolution OLED display, and the Google Pixel 2 XL has a 6-inch, 18:9, QHD+ POLED display, likely a cousin to the LG V30’s POLED panel. Both devices are based around the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset complete with 4GB of RAM. Both devices have the same features but differ slightly in the hardware, notably excluding the 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s a new an improved always on display featuring an ‘at a glance’ view, plus on-device machine learning that means the handset can identify music playing around it, automatically. As leaked many weeks ago, both the Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL come with a squeezable chassis that can launch the Google Assistant. Both devices will release carrying Android 8.0 Oreo. One of Google’s boasts is that the Pixel 2 devices use the industry’s fastest fingerprint sensor for unlocking, include IP67 water and dust resistance, and use a new launcher placing the Google search bar at the bottom of the display. Best of all, they both look good and feel good.
One of the original Google Pixel’s strengths was the camera, and for 2017, Google has improved upon the camera even further. The original model managed a DxOMark of 89, which over the last year has been bettered, most recently by the Apple iPhone 8 family and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. For 2017, Google has raised the ante and is showing a DxOMark of 98 from its 12MP main rear camera, which includes optical image stabilization (OIS) and a new auto-focus mechanism. The single camera is a dual pixel design, with separate left and right pixels, and a portrait mode for both the front and rear cameras. One of Apple’s boasts with the iPhone X camera is that it will take Android 2.5 years to catch up, so it remains to be seen if the second generation Google Pixel handsets have, indeed, caught up and surpassed it. As with the original Google Pixel, the device comes with unlimited full quality image back-up using Google Photos, including 4K resolution videos. Each model is available in 64GB or 128GB flavors and the Google Pixel 2 is available in Just Black, Clearly White, and Kinda Blue colors (depending on carrier and local availability). The Google Pixel 2 XL is available in Just Black and Black & White colors. Both handsets will receive software updates and security patches for three years.
Google is also releasing a number of other new products. These include a newer Daydream View, and Google Pixel Buds, which are wireless headphones with built-in controls on the right earbud. The Google Pixel Buds come with built-in Google Assistant technology as well, which allows it to translate 40 languages in very near real-time. The final showcased product, also the biggest surprise, was the Google Clips camera, which contains a local, onboard AI engine that takes photographs automatically. The camera decides when to take pictures of people the customer knows, seeking a stable, clear shot. It’s a new concept, and looks pretty cool.
Google’s big push for 2017 is again in the direction of artificial intelligence, with the Google Assistant woven into all of Google’s new products to a greater or lesser extent. From a handset perspective, the Google Pixel 2 family’s DxOMark score is very impressive, and the Google Pixelbook looks like it steps right into the premium laptop market very well. It’s going to be an interesting few weeks as Google’s new products become available.
To sum it up, Google is doing a lot, and unlike before, they’re doing it all themselves. Unlike some slackers who throw a bunch of stuff together last-minute, Google’s hard work and desire to give the people what they want, continues to show. Consumers all throughout the world will be able to get their hands on Google’s latest tech very soon, including the moderately priced accessories, super expensive Pixelbook, and higher priced than we anticipated Pixel 2 smartphones. Luckily, Google has trade-ins, financing options, free delivery, and a deal allowing those who pre-order Pixel 2 to get a free Google Home Mini. So maybe, just maybe, with all that Google is including, some will find the benefit to exceed the cost. Most of the new products can be pre-ordered now over at Google’s newly designed Google Store website.
Google threw everything it had at us this year with just about no comprises. They’re trying to be “Radically Helpful,” so to say. Hopefully the fans of stock Android will upgrade, and Google will gather some switchers too: it’ll need them, because high expectations have been set due to the supply issues the company faced last year. The competition is tough though, and it’ll be interesting to see just how well Google’s latest smartphones and accessories fare against rivals in the market.
There’s a helluva lot we’re looking forward to testing, truly something for everyone. If you’re on the fence whether to buy any of Google’s new tech, we’ve put together all the coverage you’ll need to help guide in your decision process. It’s a little early for our impressions, but in short, we think you’ll be satisfied with anything you order, so long as the price is worth it to you, because odds are you’ll be paying up to get what you want, not matter which way you slice it. Take a look at all our Made By Google 2017 stories in the slider down below.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and stay here at Droid Turf for coverage of everything Google.