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The New Google Hardware Lowdown

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The New Google Hardware Lowdown

What’s the scoop on the Google product announcement on 04 October 2016?  Well the key takeaway is that Google is no longer just a search and software company, they now make hardware.  And more specifically, they now make phones. Yes, Google has previously offered smartphones, but these, like the Nexus phone range, were just rebadged from other brands.  However, the new Pixel phones will be solely a Google product, but still manufactured by others, in this instance HTC.  The distinction is that this time Google is essentially responsible for the hardware specification and design, HTC will be a manufacturer only.

Google Pixel Phones

 

Pixel

Pixel XL

Screen Dimension

5”

5.5”

Screen technology

AMOLED Gorilla Glass 4

AMOLED Gorilla Glass 4

Pixels

1920 x 1080 resolution display, 441ppi

2560 x 1440 resolution display, 534ppi

RAM

4GB

4GB

Processor

Snapdragon 821

Snapdragon 821

Memory Options

32G/128G

32G/128G

Camera

Rear 12.3Mpf/2.0

Front 8MP

Rear 12.3Mpf/2.0

Front 8MP

Battery

2770mAh

3450mAh

Other features announced:

  • Quick Charge 15 minutes 7 hours
  • Easy transfer for other phone android or apple
  • Improved software
  • Google Assistant – now more than just voice input, Google Assistant will now be more like Apple’s Siri, with handling complex questions and actions
  • Unlimited Cloud Storage for photos and videos

 

New Google Pixel Phones

 

Pricing

The Pixel phones will be priced as a premium phone.  It will be interesting to see how they stack up performance wise against other premium products from Samsung and Apple. 

 

My Take

Do the Pixel products have enough to differentiate them from other premium phones in what is already a feature rich market segment?  Either you are an IPhone or Android user and very few users change sides, so the Google Pixel is really only going to sway existing Android users.  We will have to wait for the new phones to hit the shelves for a decent review, however a couple of potential observations pre-release are:

  1. Google should be able to better integrate hardware and software than other Android handset manufacturers, in much the same way as Apple is able to do, controlling all aspects of a phone design.  This should allow for an improved, more stable user experience.
  2. A Google hardware offering will operate on an essentially “vanilla” Android OS, free of the annoying resource hungry branded user interface software, that typically  offers very little value but greatly impedes performance.

As for the other Pixel features listed above, there is probably not much of interest for most, but if you take a lot of photos the free cloud service may be attractive.  Presumably this will tie you in to the Google ecosystem, in much the same way that Apple does.

The Google Assistant may prove a winner given the wealth of data Google has access to.  However this Artificial Intelligence hasn’t really proven lifestyle changing for the majority as yet.

One wonders what the other makers of Android handsets think of the idea of Google moving in to the phone business.  They can’t be happy about it.  This could prove be a major disrupter for the Android handset market, particularly if the Pixel phones manage to rack up large sales.  

The Google Pixel models are due for release is late October 2016.

 

Google Home

The Google Home is Goggle’s adaption on the Amazon Echo concept which was launched in 2015, and has sold very well.  The Home is a voice-assisted “smart” speaker.  Just start with, "Ok Google" and the Home can:

  • Play music, podcasts or radio from services like Google Play Music, Spotify, YouTube Music, Pandora and TuneIn
  • Get real-time answers including the latest on weather, traffic, finance, sports, local businesses and more
  • Retrieve flight information, set alarms and timers, and even tell you about the traffic on your way to work
  • Interface with Chromecast for streaming to TV
  • Interface with Nest and Philips Hue, so you can use your voice to set the perfect temperature or turn down the lights

 

Google Home

 

Other features for ease of use and installation:

  • Far-field voice recognition: Far-field microphones and industry-leading natural language processing ensure Google Home hears you reliably.
  • Multi-room capability: Multiple Google Home devices can be grouped together to enjoy the same song in every room.
  • Touch controls: The top touch surface gives you total control, and a mute button lets you put Google Home's microphones on standby.
  • Hi-Fi speaker: An integrated high-excursion speaker delivers crystal-clear highs and rich bass.

 

My Take

Google is jumping on to the success that Amazon has had with Artificial Intelligence devices in the form of a home based unit responding to voice commands, capable of controlling home entertainment, and integrating with other smart home devices.  Given Amazon’s success in this area, the concept must suit a lot of people.  Is it the home automation integration, which only functions if your home is wired to integrate with a central control, or perhaps the entertainment integration?  Will the masses use a home based system for other services that is already accessible through their smart phone?  Questions on wider adoption aside, the Google Home and Amazon Echo are fairly low cost this alone may help stimulate market penetration.

The Google Home is due out  in early 2017.

 

 

 

Google Wifi

Google Wifi is essentially just a Wifi router however it does have a lot of tech smarts with features like:

Keeps itself fast

Network Assist is intelligent software built into Google Wifi to provide you with the fastest possible speed. Behind the scenes, Network Assist automatically helps you avoid Wi-Fi congestion, and transitions you to the closest Wi-Fi point for the best signal.

WiFi Speed Coach

Network Assist will offer suggestions on how to optimize performance, like where to move a Google Wifi point for faster speeds or providing data so you can adjust your ISP plan.

A Simple App Interface

The Google Wifi app gives you total control over your network. Easily share your Wi-Fi password, see what devices are online, and prioritize them for better performance.

Family Wi-Fi Pause

Google Wifi’s family controls allow you to pause the signal to your children’s devices, like at bedtime or dinnertime.

 

Google Wifi  Google Wifi Meshed Network For The Home

 

My Take

My initial thoughts were there are many wireless routers, access points and range extenders already on the market, to help spread your wireless network through your house.  But then again these devices can be difficult to set up and optimise for the non-technically minded, and yes it is painful to have to manually change router connections on your wireless device for a better performance if you change locations in your house.  So a product that simplifies installation and operation, and can seamlessly connect mobile devices to the best wireless signal may be attractive to many.

However, in my view the primary consideration for wireless routers is performance.  Most high performance routers have large and complex antennae arrangements to help with signal distribution, which Google Wifi doesn’t have, does this hint at limited range?  The Google Wifi is definitely neat and aesthetically designed, but I will be waiting for some technical reviews before considering purchasing one (or 3?), just to see how it performs in the real world.

Google Wifi is due out in early 2017.

 

 

Chromecast Ultra

Chromecast is Google's successful answer to Apple TV and is now three years old. The company says it has 30 million of these devices since they were first launched in 2013. Google says the latest version of its home video and audio streaming gadget, the Chromecast Ultra, will deliver a crisper picture and be less laggy in performance.

Of course you will also need a 4K TV and video streamed in 4K to experience the true 4K experience.    There is not too much of any of this around at the moment, but market penetration should improve over time.

 

Google Chromecast Ultra

 

My Take

As an owner of the original Chromecast, my view is that the Chromecast is a great way to stream video to your TV and is very low cost.

 

The Chromecast Ultra is due out in in November 2016.

 

Daydream View Virtual Reality Headset

The virtual reality headset comes with a wireless controller that tucks away out of sight when not in use, and couples with the latest Google phones to produce VR images. Compatibility with other phones is coming.

Google has backed virtual reality as one of the next big things in consumer tech.  It launched the low-cost Google Cardboard DIY headset in 2014. But with the launch of high end devices such as Facebook's Oculus and HTC's Vive, the Daydream View headset is firmly planting itself in the mid-range field.

 

Google Daydream VR Headset

 

 

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Disclaimer: The content of this article and other articles on this website are for informational purposes only and do not constitute professional advice. Please seek advice from a professional in the relevant field, in relation to any specific matter. Refer to the website Terms and Conditions. 

 

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