After weeks of leaked images, videos and even early sales, Google still managed to pull off a few surprises at their product announcement early Wednesday morning.
At the Made By Google event in New York City, the tech giant unveiled a new flagship phone alongside several innovative devices, including the Google Home Hub, the Pixel Slate and a number of accessories.
— Google (@Google) October 9, 2018
In a move unlike Google, a company which usually loves making customers wait, all the products that were announced were immediately available for preorder.
Here are all the major announcements that were made today.
Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL
Google’s new phones continue the trend of releasing one giant phone and one enormous one. In terms of what was announced, the Pixel 3 and 3 XL are basically exactly what was leaked earlier in the year.
The Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch Full HD+ display, while the Pixel 3 XL has a 6.3-inch QHD+ display with a notch. That’s right, baby, the notch is here to stay. Both phones have OLED screens with Gorilla Glass 5 and dual front-facing stereo speakers.
The back of the phone is now a single piece of glass, rather than the Pixel 2’s combination of matte and gloss. The frame is made with a hybrid aluminium coating and comes in three amusingly named colours: Just Black, Clearly White and Not Pink. They come in 64GB and 128GB variants.
In terms of the guts, both boast a snappy Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor with 4GB RAM and run Android 9 Pie with Google Assistant. This is where the Pixel starts to differentiate itself, providing unmatched automation through its AI.
This includes Google’s Duplex AI voice-calling system, which allows owners to have their Google Assistant call and make reservations or appointments for them.
The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL will also have an awesome new call-screening feature which screens spam callers, transcribes their message, and determines whether to block or answer the call.
These features launch in November and, for now, are exclusive to the Pixel phones.
But let’s face it, what sets the Pixel apart from the competition is its perfect camera – and it’s somehow gotten even better. The rear cameras are still 12.2MP, but now the front features two 8MP cameras, which offer a hugely expanded field of view for group selfies.
There’s a bunch of new photo features including a high-resolution zoom, Night Sight low-light mode and Photobooth mode, which uses AI to recognise the best moment to snap the perfect photo. It’s very impressive.
Announced alongside the phone was the Pixel Stand, a new wireless charger. While on the stand, your phone turns into a suped-up Google Assistant, similar to the Google Home Hub.
It will answer questions, play music, control your smart devices and even transitions into a photo frame when idle.
The Pixel 3 and 3 XL are available to pre-order today. They will be on shelves from November 1 at Optus, Telstra and Vodafone – as well as JB Hi-FI, Harvey Norman and the Google Store.
Pixel 3 RRP starts at $1199, Pixel 3 XL RRP starts at $1349 and the Pixel Stand RRP is $119.
The Pixel Slate
Imagine Google’s version of a Surface Pro or an iPad Pro, and that’s kind of what the Pixel Slate is. It’s a 2-in-1 tablet that runs ChromeOS. While we know a little bit about the device, Google was quite vague about some things.
The Pixel Slate has an LTPS LCD 12.3-inch display and both the front and rear cameras are 8MP. The front-facing camera has a wide-angle lens and will perform well in low lighting – perfect for video calls.
It has dual speakers, doesn’t have a headphone jack (would someone just stick to their guns with that?) and a fingerprint reader that adds both speed and security.
The Pixel Slate can be paired with a Pixel Slate Keyboard, which has fancy rounded keys, connects via Bluetooth, and is backlit. Unfortunately, you will have to pay extra if you want to add either the keyboard or Google’s Pixelbook Pen stylus.
In a strange move, Google didn’t give any details about hardware, storage capacity, or a shipping date. They didn’t even mention an Australian price or release.
The base price of the Pixel Slate in the United States will be US$599, with the Pixel Slate Keyboard coming in at US$199 and the stylus US$99. It seems Google has decided to rival Apple for expensive peripherals.
At launch, it will only be available in Midnight Blue. If you’re really excited about it, you can join the US waiting list here, or stay tuned to for news on Australian availability.
Google Home Hub
The latest entry into Google’s expanding line of smart home devices, the Home Hub has a built-in display to offer more expansive features from the Google Assistant.
Everything about the Google Home Hub is designed to be part of your home decor. It integrates with Google Photos to act as a picture frame, can be used to watch YouTube videos, and adds a visual element to Google Assistant.
Of course, it can control all your smart devices and gadgets and recognise the voice of each family member.
From looking up recipes and checking the weather to listening to Spotify and turning up the volume on the TV, the Google Home Hub is being sold as a one-stop-shop for your kitchen and living room.
When it’s not in active use, the Home Hub will display relevant information – like what the traffic on the way to work looks like, local news reports, and an overview of your upcoming activities.
For those worried about the decay of privacy as the home becomes increasingly automated, the Home Hub gives extra peace of mind by not including a camera. It’s a great consumer-friendly move from Google.
The Home Hub retains the design of the previous Home devices, with a fabric base. It comes in Chalk, Charcoal, Aqua and Coral and will retail at $219.
The Google Home Hub is available for preorder now and will launch in Australia on October 22.
Alongside the big three, Google also slyly announced a few other products. A new Google Chromecast comes with two new colours – Chalk and Charcoal – and a 15% improvement on hardware speed.
It also comes with the added functionality of Google Home voice commands and the ability to use Google Photos as a screensaver. The new Chromecast is available now on the Australian Google Play store for $59.
Rather than last years wireless Pixel Buds, this year each Pixel 3 and 3 XL will include a pair of Pixel USB-C Earbuds. They allow the Google Assistant to read notifications, give directions and provide real-time translations.
As of now, they are only available with a purchase of the Pixel 3 or 3 XL, but like the Pixel Buds, will inevitably be released on the Google Store.
[Feature and body images courtesy of Google]