Software giant hopes new product can rival Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy offerings
Following weeks of pre-reveal leaks and rumours, Google have officially launched their new Pixel and Pixel XL Smartphones at a special event in San Francisco.
The two Android smartphones are the first to carry solely Google branding – although they were built by HTC – and are a clear attempt by the tech giant to leave a mark on a phone market currently dominated by Apple and Samsung.
The phones come with a range of new features including what the company claim is the “highest rated smartphone camera ever.”
The 12 megapixel cameras were awarded a rating of 89 by analysts DxOMark, beating out Apple’s iPhone 7, which was awarded an 87 and Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge which came in with 88.
Google will also provide unlimited cloud storage for images and videos shot with the phone.
Both Pixel models are powered by the latest Snapdragon 821 processor and run a specialized version of Google's Android software, which includes support for the recently announced, Daydream virtual reality platform.
The new phones are also the first to come with the new ‘Google Assistant,’ “a conversational, contextually aware assistant that will help you through your day” built in.
“You can talk to it, ask it various questions and it will provide a consistent experience throughout, as well as prompting you with information when it thinks its relevant,” said James Nugent, product manager for Pixel.
The company said the assistant will be able to answer questions and perform actions through voice and text, learning your preferences and habits over time.
“We’re leveraging 18 years of search and evolving it into an assistant powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence that we believe will be the next wave of computing for the next 10 years or so and it will get better and better as people use it,” said Ana Corrales, The company’s VP of global operations.
The new phones will be compatible with Google’s new Daydream View virtual reality headset which in turn has been purpose built for the recently announced Google Daydream virtual reality platform.
The device, similar in idea to Samsung’s Gear VR accessory, is a step up from the company’s basic Cardboard viewer and represents the next phase in Google’s push for virtual reality.
“Most of the other headsets out there are bulky, made of plastic with connectors and cables everywhere,” said Andrey Doronichev, Google’s product Manager for VR.
“Daydream is none of these things. It’s made of fabric, very lightweight and it feels like clothing, not like a piece of electronics.”
“Cardboard is a great way to get introduced to VR with short experiences, but we designed it without a head strap for a reason for quick, bite size experiences. By contrast Daydream is designed for long term, high quality VR for a much more immersive and richly interactive experience.”
There will be a choice of either 32GB or 128GB of internal storage and the phones will come in three colours – ‘Quite Black,’ ‘Very Silver,’ or ‘Really Blue.’
The phones are set to be available in-store from late October and although an Irish pricing structure has yet to be revealed, the British structure (£599 for the 5-inch Pixel and £719 for the 5.5-inch Pixel XL) suggests a similar price-point as the iPhone 7.