Google: Launch of New Pixel Phones Marks Shift to Artificial Intelligence
By Shirley Siluk / CIO Today. Updated October 04, 2016.
As expected, Google unveiled its new Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones during a special event in San Francisco today. However, it also introduced a variety of other new products designed for use in world driven increasingly by artificial intelligence and virtual-reality technologies.
Ahead of the product announcements, Google CEO Sundar Pichai took to the stage to say that technology development today has reached a "seminal moment" by shifting from a mobile-first world to an AI-first world. Building on years of work and investment in machine learning, he added, Google is marking that shift by bringing its intelligent Google Assistant to both the new Pixel phones and the new smart Google Home device.
Designed and built by Google, the Pixel smartphones (shown above) -- available for pre-ordering beginning today at a base price of $649 -- will also be the first phones to have built-in support for the company's new Daydream virtual-reality system. The $129 Google Home can also be pre-ordered starting today and are set to begin shipping on Nov. 4.
'A Personal Google for Everyone'
"We're at a seminal moment in computing," Pichai said at the start of today's even. Following the previous technology milestones of personal computing, the Web and mobile computing, he claimed, we are now "moving from a mobile-first to an AI-first world."
Google plans to help people make that transition by bringing its intelligent Google Assistant to devices anywhere and anytime, Pichai added. "Our goal is to build a personal Google for everyone."
The first smartphones to feature Google Assistant built in, the 5-inch Pixel and 5.5-inch Pixel XL will also come with a number of other new features, including an advanced camera and unlimited cloud storage for photos and videos.
According to Brian Rakowski, a member of Google's software product management team, the Pixel's camera received a quality rating of 89 -- "the highest rating ever for a smartphone" -- from DXOMark. The camera offers a Smartburst feature that captures a stream of photos rather than just one for photo optimization and uses algorithms to improve image quality "even in challenging conditions," Rakowski said.
More Smart Devices, VR, WiFi and Chromecast
Google Assistant will also be coming to Google Home, a smart-home appliance that will enable users to play music, ask questions, handle daily tasks and control other home devices using voice commands. In an on-stage demonstration, Google's Rishi Chandra showed how Google Home can be used to request specific song titles or even search for music with commands like, "Play that Shakira song from 'Zootopia.'"
Using Google's own Knowledge Graph and other information resources, Google Home can also provide answers to questions, find information on coming local events, make restaurant and transportation reservations, check the weather and provide a summary of a user's daily personal calendar.
"If the president can get a daily briefing, why shouldn't you?" Chandra asked.
Other new products making their debut at today's event included the Daydream View virtual reality headset and controller, set to go on sale for $79 in November; Google WiFi for home wireless network management, available for pre-ordering starting in November at a price of $129 for one device and $299 for a three-pack; and the 4K Google Chromecast Ultra, available starting in November for $69.
Image Credit: Google via Made by Google YouTube Video.