We are well and truly at the rear end of the tech release season and that brings us to the Google Pixel 4 launch event. While the Pixel 4 was the main attraction, Google used its stage to announce various different services and products. Some are more exciting than others, so let’s go through the most important announcements from the Google Pixel 4 event.
This is the first time Google is venturing into the gaming world as a service provider of game publisher, but it is a bold first step. We have known about Stadia for a while now, since Google announced the gaming streaming service several months ago with very little additional details.
“The future of gaming is not a box,” according to Google. “It’s a place.” Just like we have built stadiums specifically for sport and theatres specifically for the arts, Google believes it’s building a virtual venue for gamers, hence the name Stadia.
It will run the games on cloud servers hosted by Google, meaning that you don’t need powerful hardware to run AAA games. Also, it is pushing the live streaming capabilities where the biggest gamers can take advantage of the service as they entertain their audiences.
Now, we finally have a launch date for Stadia – 19 November 2019.
As expected, the Pixel buds were also announced at the Google Pixel 4 launch event. It is their own wireless earbuds, with full integration into their powerful Google Assistant. You can get hands free access to said Assistant and Google is touting long range Bluetooth capabilities with these earbuds. According to Google, it will stay connected three rooms apart and outdoors it will stay connected about 100m away.
Google claims 5 hours of battery life for the new Pixel buds, and up to 24 hours of battery life including the wireless charging capabilities in the case. There is a special vent on the side which reduces that “plugged ear feeling” but still gives you proper insulation. It also detects your surroundings and will adjust the sound accordingly while remaining safe and comfortable for your ears.
The Pixel Buds will cost $179 when it launches in 2020.
Google has been rumoured to wanting to release a new version of the Pixelbook laptop, running Chrome OS. Now, while they aren’t the most popular machines out there, they are garnering a dedicated following.
At the Google Pixel 4 event they announced Pixelbook Go, which will come in two colours – “Just Black” and “Not Pink.” There is a new grippable design at the bottom to make it easier to use and it is lighter than the original Pixelbook and still light. It also boasts 12 hours of battery life, according to Google.
The Pixelbook Go will launch at $649.
Google Nest Mini
This is a replacement for the Google Home Mini, which we weren’t expecting to see at the event. It is more capable than previous version, due to upgraded internals and software. It has better microphones as well as better speakers, featuring deeper bass and crisper high frequencies.
The Nest Mini rebrand is interesting, as Google is leaning more into its acquired Nest business, which is all about home automation. It also comes with a new wall mount, another indication of it moving into the Nest umbrella.
The Google Nest Mini will cost $49 and is launching soon.
Google Pixel 4 / Pixel 4 XL
As you always have with these events there are a lot of bold claims, and again you have them in the new Pixel devices. Google claims that there are entirely new helpful experiences included in its new flagship smartphones you won’t find anywhere else.
Google Pixel 4 is the first smartphone with a radar sensor. The Motion Sense capabilities are powered by this sensor, and while not new, they do look like they will work slightly better and quicker due to this sensor.
The phone now also comes with Face Unlock, which Google claims is the world’s fastest due to the radar and the software that detects when you move the phone and get ready to unlock it. Not only that, but it even starts before you’ve picked it up. The radar detects when you are in the proximity and starts to get its other sensors ready. Motion Sense also powers down the phone when you leave it on a desk, saving battery life, and comes alive when you return.
Google Assistant is even more deeply integrated in this new device and across your apps. It has even been taught the ability to simplify multitasking, but we would need to test this out to see if it actually works as advertised.
One of the most important updates is a quick refresh display, at 90 Hz. This Smooth Display is sure to give even quicker performance and we are happy to see this is now becoming the norm in display technology. The refresh rate on the Google Pixel 4 will also adjust automatically depending on what you’re doing, optimising performance.
Now, most importantly, the cameras. On the back you find a 12.2MP f/1.7 main camera as well as a 16MP f/2.4 telephoto lens. It will use a combination of the optical zoom via the second camera and Google’s “Super Res Zoom” software to deliver extra sharp images. We look forward to testing out the cameras to see if Google can reclaim the best smartphone camera moniker.
The new Pixel comes in three colours – “Just Black,” “Clearly White” and “O so Orange.” Yes, we’re also cringing at the names but they look pretty good.