Google on Wednesday unveiled an expanded portfolio of hardware products, in the latest indication that the company is eager to go beyond its core advertising business and compete with the likes of Apple.
In its first scheduled in-person conference in three years, Google announced three new smartphones and its first smartwatch, as well as plans to launch a new tablet next year. Google has also announced updates to many of its most popular tools, including Maps, Google Translate, and its flagship search product.
Here are the main conclusions:
Three new Pixel smartphones
Google has surprised fans of its smartphone lineup by unveiling two new flagship devices – Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. While the company has not shared many details, both smartphones are expected to be launched this fall.
Google also announced the Pixel 6a smartphone, a lower-cost version of the Pixel 6 line, which was launched earlier this year. The Pixel 6a is powered by the in-house developed Tensor chip, and will be available in three colors – green, white and black. The price in the US, where it will be available on July 21, will be $449. [479 euros].
There is no shortage of Android smartwatches in the market, but Google is now planning to create a new smartwatch of its own for the first time.
The company has revealed its much-touted Pixel Watch, which will use the Google WearOS operating system and will be compatible with services like the voice-activated Google Assistant, Google Maps, and Google Wallet.
Integration with Fitbit, which Google acquired in 2019, will add a number of activity and fitness tracking features.
The Pixel Watch will be available in the US this fall, along with the Pixel 7 lineup. Google has also shown off the new Pixel Tablet, which the company says will launch in 2023.
Pixel Buds Pro
Google also announced a new iteration of its headphones [headphones] Bluetooth, Pixel Buds Pro.
The new Headphones are available in four colors – orange, green, white and black – and offer solutions such as active noise cancellation and spatial audio. Pixel Buds Pro cost $199 [190 euros]It will be released on July 21.
In addition to the hardware, there have also been a number of new software updates. Soon, Google Maps users will be able to get a real view of some cities, with a 3D rendering of popular tourist sites, restaurants, and businesses, to better visualize the space. While Maps already offers satellite and Street View options, Google says its new pan-view feature combines the two, to “create a rich digital model” that makes users feel right on the ground.
A sliding scale will allow users to see what the area in question is like at different times of the day, how busy the area is and local traffic conditions.
The immersive preview will be available later this year in Los Angeles, London, New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo on all mobile devices running Google’s Android operating system. The company plans to add more cities as it develops this feature.
Google is adding 24 languages to its translation tool, Google Translate — the company says it focuses this metric on African and Indic languages, languages that technology generally doesn’t offer.
These languages include Quechua, which is spoken in the Andes, particularly in Peru; Lingala, a language spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Assamese, which is spoken in northeastern India. and Tigrinya, which is spoken in Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The company said the additional languages bring the total number the tool can translate to 133, and will be available to all Google Translate users in the coming days.
New measure of skin tone
Google is launching a new skin tone scale that it hopes will make its products more inclusive.
Many beauty and technology companies rate skin tones based on what is known as the Fitzpatrick Scale. Developed in the 1970s by a Harvard dermatologist, it is used to categorize how different skin tones respond to UV rays (and in doing so predict a person’s risk of sunburn and skin cancer). Although it only has six skin tones, tech companies have used it for years for everything from emoji colors and how heart rate monitors work on different skin tones, to efforts to make AI fairer on Facebook.
The company said it will start using the monk’s skin tone scale, developed by Harvard professor Ellis Monk, that includes ten different shades. Google uses it to do things like test the performance of AI models (such as those that can recognize faces in photos) on people of different skin colors. The company is also using the expansion of Google Image searches, allowing people to narrow beauty-related image queries by skin tone.
Google will also open Libra so that others can use it.
Google releases virtual credit cards to help protect users’ financial information when shopping online.
The feature creates a virtual card number that users can automatically fill in instead of the actual card information on Android mobile devices or Google’s Chrome browser, and hides the real credit card number from the companies they connect with.
Virtual cards will launch this summer — initially only for US users with Visa, American Express, and Capital One credit cards. Google plans to add support for MasterCard later this year.
Privacy Controls in Surveys
Another feature was announced Wednesday that aims to give users more control over the results that appear when someone searches for your name on Google.
This feature, which will be rolled out in the coming months, will make it easier for users to request that their personal information, such as phone numbers, email and home addresses, be deleted from search results.
Google plans to allow users to customize the ads they see when they surf the Internet, with the ability to choose which brands and types of ads they want to see or not.