In a somewhat unconventional spectacle that included a fireside chat about the company’s environmental initiatives and photographer Annie Leibovitz dropping by to talk about smartphones, Google’s Pixel 4 event in New York today included few surprises, and at times, even fewer details on its new hardware.
As expected, after months and months of extensive leaks, the Pixel 4 smartphone was officially announced today, as well as new versions of Google Wifi and the Google Home Mini, now adopted into the company’s Nest family of products. The company also revealed the Pixelbook Go, although the event was light on details aside from the aesthetic choices Google made for the new chromebook’s design. The most enticing new product might be the new Pixel Buds headphones, although we’ll have to wait until 2020 to try them out in person.
Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL
Surprising no one, the Pixel 4 is here and in addition to gaining an extra 16-megapixel telephoto camera on the back to complement its 12-megapixel primary snapper, the smartphone finally ditches the notched screen that still plagues smartphones from companies like Apple, while still including facial recognition biometric security. The Pixel 4's shooting prowess has been further boosted with additional machine learning image processing capabilities, so you can use it for astrophotography. But the biggest update might be the smartphone’s new Motion Sense gesture recognition capabilities, allowing users to interact with the Pixel 4 without actually touching, thanks to radar technology that Google has been working on for years. The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL will start at £669 and £829 respectively.
Google Nest Wifi
If you haven’t switched to a mesh Wi-Fi solution yet, Google Nest Wi-Fi, an updated and rebranded version of the company’s Google Wifi hardware, is an even more appealing offer. The Google Nest Router, which connects to your internet modem, is now paired with a series of Google Nest Wifi Points nodes that spread even and reliable Wi-Fi coverage across your entire home. The nodes also double as Google Nest Mini speakers, making it easier to set up a network of smart assistants and a whole-home sound solution. When available on November 4, Google Nest Wi-Fi will start at £149.
Google Nest Mini
Two years after its debut, the Google Home Mini has been rebranded the Google Nest Mini and keeps everything that made it great. It’s still the size and shape of a contoured hockey puck, but gains a third microphone for improved voice pickup in noisy environments, double the bass performance, a new Sky blue colour option, and a wall mounting hole on the underside so you can hang it like a piece of gart. It will also still sell for just £49 when it hits stores on October 22.
Google Pixel Buds 2
Released a year after Apple’s AirPods radically changed wireless headphone design, Google’s Pixel Buds still included a tether cable, a flimsy charging case, and so-so audio quality that all added up to a disappointing product. Today Google revealed its follow-up – the Pixel Buds 2, which finally eliminate cables altogether in a design that looks like it could easily disappear into your ear. (That’s a good thing.) They boast five hours of battery life, or 24 in total when paired with a wireless charging case, as well as quick access to Google Assistant, for neat features like real-time translation. They won’t arrive until the Spring of 2020 and pricing information for the UK is not yet available.
Google Pixelbook Go
With a price tag starting at $650 (UK pricing TBC), which is $350 less than the Pixelbook, Google’s new 13-millimetre thick, two-pound Pixelbook Go might be an affordable and practical solution for those looking for a lightweight travel laptop and are OK with being limited to Chrome OS. Powered by a range of Intel processors, the Pixelbook Go boasts a new, extra quiet “Hush Keys” keyboard, a ridged bottom which makes it easier to grab and grip, and up to 16GB of RAM and 256GB of onboard SSD storage.
Google’s unconventional approach to console gaming – a system without an actual console – has been hyped across several events throughout the year. But today, we finally got an official release date for Stadia. Starting on November 19 you’ll be able to stream an ever-growing list of games including Assassin’s Creed Odyssey or Red Dead Redemption 2 for £8.99/month – plus extra for the special Stadia controller, and a Chromecast, if your tablet, smartphone, or TV doesn’t already support Google’s streaming solution.
Some of the most exciting feature reveals of Google’s event today had nothing to do with hardware but rather with the intelligent software and cloud-based services powering them. On the Pixel 4, the voice memo app will be able to transcribe everything being recorded in near real-time, providing a text version that’s easier to search, index, and organise. Google Assistant is also finally coming to Google’s Nest Wi-Fi products, allowing users to control settings for their home network – such as disabling access to specific devices – through simple voice commands.