google-homeGoogle has avoided a “me too” approach with a range of new products announced yesterday – including the Google Pixel smartphone, a voice assistant for home control known as Google Home, a WiFi system that will carry the Google WiFi name and a Daydream View virtual reality headset.

Google Pixel Smartphone
The Google Pixel smartphone has several distinguishing features, Google executives said at a launch event yesterday that was also webcast.

Among these are:

  • A built-in Google Assistant for voice control
  • Advanced camera capabilities such as the ability to take a burst of photos and have the device automatically select the best one
  • Integration with Google cloud services so that the device should not run out of storage
  • A battery that can deliver seven hours of use on a 15-minute charge

The Google Assistant capability is quite similar to AT&T’s Siri offering, but Google hopes to differentiate its offering by leveraging its expertise in search technology.

The Google Pixel smartphone will be available with a 5-inch or 5.5-inch display at prices starting at $649. Among major U.S. carriers, the devices will be available exclusively from Verizon – initially at least. The devices also will be available for use with Google’s own Fi wireless offering. Customers can pre-order the phones immediately.

Google Home
The Google Home  voice assistant will compete in a market that also includes Amazon Echo and Apple Homekit, but here, too Google aims to leverage its search technology expertise to differentiate its offering.  In a demo at the launch event, for example, the Google Home voice control capability was used to find and play the Shakira song from the movie Zootopia, even though the user did not know the exact name of the song, only the movie in which it was featured.

People can use Google Home for a range of tasks including:

  • Controlling music services such as Google Play, Spotify and Pandora
  • Getting answers to questions using Internet search capabilities
  • Controlling home devices including Chromecast-equipped television sets, providing hands-free functionality such as pause

Like competitive devices, Google Home is a compact device with built-in speakers that can be used to play music. The company put extra effort into the device’s aesthetics which, according to one executive at yesterday’s event were “inspired by objects commonly found in homes like wine glasses and candles.” (See image above.)

Google Home also integrates with smart home devices from Nest, Samsung SmartThings, Philips and IFTTT. Google Home will sell for $129 and will begin shipping and be available in stores November 4.

Google WiFi and Daydream View
The new Google WiFi offering builds on the OnHub WiFi device that the company launched last year.

According to a Google executive, Google WiFi can “actively manage and optimize” WiFi connectivity by shifting to different channels as a user moves throughout a home. A single Google WiFi device sells for $129. Customers also have the option of purchasing three devices that, according to Google, work together to optimize coverage throughout the home. A three-pack costs $299.

The Google Daydream View virtual reality headset,  like other devices launched yesterday, is not one of the first devices on the market in its category. Here, the company hopes to differentiate its offering with an ergonomic design that makes heavy use of fabric to make the headset more comfortable to wear. The headset also is 30% lighter than some other offerings and has a nifty storage spot for the remote control, executives noted.


Google Daydream VR (Source: Google Site)

Google Daydream View initially will work in combination with Google Pixel smartphones. In the future, customers also will be able to use smartphones from some other manufacturers with the Google virtual reality headset.

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