At Tuesday's Google event, the company unveiled the extensively leaked Pixel 3 and 3 XL smartphones, in addition to both a new ChromeOS tablet, the Pixel Slate, and a new smart home assistant in the form of Google Home Hub.
Second, Pixel users in the U.S. will be the first to get access to an experimental new Google Assistant feature, powered by Duplex technology, which helps you complete real-world tasks over the phone, like calling a restaurant to book a table.
In that respect, the Google Home Hub is nearly an exact replica of Amazon's Echo Show, which is also a screen with a built-in digital assistant that connects to various music and video services, most owned by Amazon, and anything that includes the Alexa system. The primary aim of the Hub is to control your smart home with a single device.
If you don't want to buy from Verizon, you can buy the phones unlocked directly from Google or other select retailers for use on almost any American carrier. If you press that screen button, the Pixel's AI will answer and start asking questions of the caller on your behalf. We liked it but were struck by its limited functions. "In the future, we'll do more things with less". Since then, Google has invested more heavily in its "Made by Google" device lineup, which includes everything from virtual reality headsets to video and audio streaming devices.
But the main features aren't hardware, they're software, and Google has gone all out in new software.
As to the details of Google's Home Hub.
And the keyboard can be folded on the new tablet to protect its screen.
Perhaps critically, it does not contain a camera: something that Google explicitly noted was so that people feel comfortable taking it with them into private places - like on your bedside table. It has been created to blend in with your home - the screen automatically adjusts to the level and type of light in the room. And it has speakers and microphones so it can answer queries and play sound. It also comes with a plus over Amazon and Facebook: it is slightly less commercial. "You can decide whether to pick up, send a quick reply, or mark the call as spam".
And because there's now a wide-angle lens fitted to the front-facing camera, you can get more in. With the Home Hub, you can choose a Live Album that will automatically display on the Hub's screen, ensuring the latest new photos are available. But if you are willing to accept that proposition, it is less obnoxious than the alternatives.
A lot of fuss has been made about Android and the customization that companies like Samsung make to it.
Instead of having to deal with duplicate apps as is the case on Samsung devices, a Pixel comes with Google services and apps, and nothing more. Depending on who you ask, it's either a flaw or a feature. That, unfortunately, is the mechanics of the market. Increasingly, it seems likely that whatever company gets an initial foothold in your home, that will drive future purchasing decisions. Google's also boasting an integrated Titan Security system - the same security that Google uses internally - and automatic system updates in the background. Claimed to bring the best of Google to its users, the two phones are powered by AI for more helpful, thoughtful, and personal experiences. It's not like she doesn't already have the very finest photographic equipment that is available to buy.