Key Points From Last Week’s Google Event

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Google is best known for its search capabilities. In fact, the company has changed our language. We no longer “search” for something online — we “Google” it.

It’s also known for its suite of web-based services and apps, including YouTube, Gmail and Google Docs.

As ubiquitous as Google already is in our lives, the company is doubling down on its hardware offerings in an effort to compete with the likes of Apple’s iPhone and Amazon’s Echo. Here is a quick look at the products Google revealed at its launch event last week, and how they might make your life easier.

Pixel: The New Google Phone

The highest-profile reveal from Google’s event was its new Pixel smartphone, a powerful device that will aim to compete directly Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy series. The phone has all of the features you would expect from a modern phone, including a speedy, state-of-the-art processor and, of course, the latest version of the Android OS.

The phone’s most talked-about feature, however, is its camera. Pixel has received the highest score ever for a mobile phone camera from DxOMark, an industry standard for camera quality ratings (although it hasn’t yet given a score to Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus).

Google didn’t exactly set the smartphone industry on fire with its Nexus phones, but the early rumblings are that Pixel should give the company more smartphone credibility, particularly because it’s a first-party device, and will benefit from the sort of close software-hardware relationship that the iPhone has long enjoyed.

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Google Home, Powered by Assistant

Google didn’t only have smartphone manufacturers in its sights at the event. With Google Home, it also took aim at Amazon and its line of voice-controlled Echo products.

The new device is powered by Assistant, described as a rebranded version of Google’s voice-powered search feature and Google Now. Owners can use the device to power apps such as Spotify and Pandora, and it will allow you to stream video from Netflix on any TV connected to Google’s Chromecast.

The Home device will be available in a wide variety of colors, and it comes with a free six-month trial of YouTube Red, the ad-free version of the video service.

Google Home becomes available in stores on Nov. 4 at a price of $129.

The New Google Wi-Fi Router

The internet is at the heart of all of Google’s products and services. With that in mind, the company also revealed the new Google Wi-Fi router to help improve your at-home internet experience.

The router comes with three separate units, allowing you to place them throughout your home to make sure the signal is strong everywhere. Using a Network Assist feature, your Wi-Fi devices automatically connect to the closest unit and the strongest channel.

One of the coolest features of Google Wi-Fi is a mobile app that allows parents to pause and resume internet connections to any device within range. Time for dinner or homework? Disconnect the kids’ cell phones from the internet to make sure they keep their focus.

A New Generation of Chromecast

Finally, Google unveiled the latest version of its Chromecast device, which connects to TVs and allows you to stream audio and video from a computer or mobile device.

The latest edition of Chromecast is geared toward those who are into the latest technologies. It supports 4K resolution, as well as both HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR video. Higher-quality video means more data usage, so to accommodate that, Google included an Ethernet port on the new Chromecast as well.

With more and more streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube offering content in 4K, the latest Chromecast will make it easy for you to view said content on your new 4K TV.

The Next Step in Google’s Hardware Evolution

While Google may be best known for its apps and web services, its latest event showed that it’s doubling down on the hardware end of things, as well. How successful the company is will be determined as the new products roll out over the coming weeks, but make no mistake — it’s likely to be a holiday season filled with plenty of Google devices.

 

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Kayla Matthews is the editor of Productivity Bytes and a regular contributor to VentureBeat, Motherboard, MakeUseOf and Inc.com. Follow her on Twitter to read her latest posts.

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