Tech Talk Thursday: Say Hello to the Google Pixel

Tech Talk bannerApple products hold a special place in our heart, but we would be remiss if we didn’t take some time to cover neat tech announcements from other successful companies as well. If you missed it yesterday, Google held an event officially unveiling their jump into the smartphone market, the Pixel and Pixel XL. The event also highlighted other hardware and software coming soon. We’ve got a recap for you right here!

A Pixel is Worth a Thousand Words

It’s really hard to avoid spoilers over the internet, especially when information and rumors leak out weeks ahead of time. Even though the surprise was ultimately ruined, the Google Pixel and Pixel XL are here. Besides a difference in size and display (the Pixel has a 5-inch 1080p display whereas the XL boasts a 5.5-inch Quad HD display), the phones are essentially the same.  Both smartphones come in three different colors (Very Silver, Quite Black, and Really Blue), feature a souped-up Snapdragon processor, and run a special version of the Android operating system which will be able to support Google’s new VR headset (more on that later), and Google’s new Assistant software. The Assistant software is neat, and functions much in the same way you’d expect Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana to work. Because it’s Google, the Assistant can of course use Google to answer search queries, and it can also access your apps and perform actions inside of those, too. If you’re serious about your smartphone photography, you’ll be happy to know both Pixels feature a pretty nice camera, and Google is providing FREE unlimited storage for all of your footage on Google Photos.

Cast Off!

Being able to stream content from my iPad  or iPhone to the TV is awesome, and I’ve honestly been pretty impressed with how useful my husband and I have found our Google Chromecast to be. Chromecast will be seeing an upgrade to Chromecast Ultra, which will support HDR, Dolby Vision, and 4K content. It will also have an Ethernet port integrated into the power adapter. The upgrades come at a price, upping the cost from $35 to $69, but if you have a 4K TV (4K is Ultra HD, 4 times sharper than Full HD), you might consider grabbing  the Chromecast Ultra so you can watch 4K content using the Chromecast, which is cool if you’re into that sort of thing. Might make a good combo holiday gift – preorders start in November.

WiFi? Why not?

Google is also entering the home wireless network game. Google WiFi will be a multi-point router system. This basically means that if you need to take your wireless device into another room, you can take one of the little router units with you to optimize your connection. You will be able to purchase a single unit, or a 3-pack ($129 and $299 respectively).  Almost everything has an app nowadays, and Google WiFi is no exception. You can manage the entire system (including features like parental controls) from your smartphone.

What Daydreams May Come

VR headsets are kind of a big deal now, and Google had designed a new lightweight headset to keep up with the competition. The Daydream View differs from other VR headsets due to the fact that it’s made from fabric, making it a much cozier experience.  The headset will come with a remote, which will tuck neatly away into the headset when not in use. Daydream View will have access to a lot of Google software; imagine using Google Street View to explore your town in virtual reality. Pop in your Google Pixel phone and set off for adventure! If you’re into the VR revolution, go ahead and add the Daydream View to your shopping list because it will be available for $79 starting in November.

There’s no place like Home

Smarthome technology is all the rage right now ( for example, you may have recently seen a few spots on TV for Amazon’s Echo).  Google understands this demand, and thus announced Google Home back in May. Smarthome technology generally lets you control a lot of smart devices within your home, from lights to speakers and other electronics. Google Home will work in the same way and (hopefully) with a lot of apps, but initially with native Google apps like YouTube and Google Play. You can even send music from your Chromecast-connected TV to the device to play in whatever room it is in. It can pull answers from the web (courtesy of Google of course) and with the addition of new smart assistant features, should be a pretty good tool to add to your home if you’re a Google fan. Google Home will cost $129, and you can buy a 3-pack (because why not have a few in the house) for $299.

Those are the big things! My husband has already made it clear that he’s interested in Google Home; does anything stand out to you?

Resources

http://www.theverge.com/2016/10/4/13160134/google-phone-event-2016-pixel-home-daydream-vr-news-recap

Everything you need to know from Google’s Pixel event

https://store.google.com/

 

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