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Google I/O 2019: new Pixel and Home devices, Android Q, 10x faster Assistant, AR Search & more

I/O, Google's annual developers conference, kicked off today with a keynote talk and there are some notable announcements Apple fans should be aware of. We've summarized all the news in a bulleted fashion so check out what's new in the Google world, then meet us in comments.

Here's what was announced today at Google I/O 2019.

Android Q

The next major iterations to Google's mobile operating system (Android is reaching version 10) is Android Q. It includes a system-wide dark theme along with some cool AI-driven features, such as suggested replies from the notifications and live captioning.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YL-8Xfx6S5o

With Android Q, Google is promising (stop me if you heard this) background security updates that won't require a restart and new privacy options that will hopefully limit what developers can do with your data. Android Q is getting its own Screen Time—they're calling it Focus Mode and it lets you limit distracting apps, like Instagram and Facebook—while new parental controls let parents limit apps their kids can access on a per-app basis.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgXVd60f02o

A Smart Reply feature will offer up suggested actions, similar to how Siri suggestions work on iOS devices. Android Q, like iOS 13, will have a built-in system-wide dark mode option.

The Android Q beta for all Pixel phones is available today.

Cheaper Pixels

The Pixel smartphone brand now includes additional options covering the lower end of the market, with Pixel 3a and 3aXL offering features from the premium Pixel devices at lower price, starting at $399.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vc7LlUtQgNw

These phones have smart cameras the Pixels are known for and include the AI-powered Night Sight feature that boosts night shoots with a little help from machine learning.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLtWyLVjDg0

Google's adaptive battery technology delivers up to 30 hours of run time on a single charge.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HcEath46Ks

A new Home hub

Google is renaming all of its smart home products under the Nest brand whilst unveiling a new screen and camera-outfitted hub, dubbed Nest Hub Max. You can play YouTube videos on it, watch movies and television shows, enjoy pictures or even use it as a digital photo frame. Like Apple TV, it acts as a remote hub for all your smart hopme products.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RW9-8ih147A

The device doubles as a security camera that streams video to the cloud. Multi-user support is also part of the package, thanks to Google's Face Match technology.

Priced at $229, Nest Max Hub is arriving this summer.

Search goes augmented reality

Google Search is getting support for augmented reality objects in search results. Similar to AR QuickView in macOS Mojave and iOS 12, people will be able to just click an object to enter augmented reality mode, which should be cool for certain shopping scenarios.

https://twitter.com/Google/status/1125810617774772224

As part of Google's newly-found privacy angle, Search is getting Incognito Mode like Google's Chrome browser. So, rather than use a privacy-browsing mode in your browser, you'll be able to enter Incognito Mode on Google Search for those times when you don't want your searches to be saved in your Google Account.

https://twitter.com/Google/status/1125811318597005312

Search will also index podcasts and let you play episodes inline. Lens, Google's impressive AI-powered visual search technology, can now calculate a tip by scanning a receipt, read aloud a menu and even highlight the most popular dishes.

Tidbits

Here are some other notable announcements:

New domains for Duplex

Duplex, Google's creepy human-sounding AI that can book a reservation for you, can now book a rental car from a supported service on your behalf, as well as reserve a movie ticket and even fill in web forms for you.

Incognito in Maps

Google Maps is getting an Incognito mode akin to the Chrome browser which lets you research directions and get directions without sharing your data with Google.

https://twitter.com/Google/status/1125818881543634951

Another legitimately cool feature in Google Maps: an augmented reality walking mode, something we've suspected would come to Apple Maps, too.

https://twitter.com/googlemaps/status/1125829356834775040

A faster Assistant

Google has done some plumbing work so now Assistant is 10x faster, responding to rapid fire requests with ease without needing to hear the Hey Google hot word multiple times. According to Goole, Assistant will be running directly on the new Pixel phones launching later this year.

https://twitter.com/Google/status/1125815241026166784

The algorithm has been perfected so Assistant is now smarter, and you'll get some new recommendations as well, such as podcasts and recipes. On top of that, Assistant will be picking up a new Driving Mode on Android this summer.

Assistant will be also coming to Waze soon, Google has said.

What's your favorite announcement from Google I/O 2019?

Let us know in the commenting section down below!

Google announces new Pixel phone and tablet, Home Hub & third-gen Chromecast

Pixel 3 and Home Hub

Google has introduced new consumer products just in time for the holiday shopping season. While devices like the third-generation Pixel smartphone were long expected to make their debut this month, the company also announced some surprises.

Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL

The third-generation 5.5-inch Pixel 3 and 6.3-inch Pixel 3 XL look similar to last year's models, except for some minor design changes. The back on the handsets now includes Corning Gorilla Glass 5 at the top (it's also used on the front) where it surrounds the phone's camera and flash. There's also a smaller bezel on the larger model. (The Pixel 3 XL is also the first Pixel to embrace a notch like the ones found on Apple's X series.)

Both models feature 4GB of RAM and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor. New this year is Google's Titan security chip, which Google says makes for a more secure experience for users.

Pixel smartphones have received high marks over the years for the seamless integration between Google Photos and the built-in cameras. This integration expands further on this year's models with Top Shot, which examines the pictures taken in a series and suggests which one is best.

If you're in the market for an Android-based smartphone, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are both worth considering since they offer a more stripped down Android experience. In this case, each model ships with Android 9 Pie and Google Assistant.

Both models are available in Clearly White, Just Black, and Not Pink, starting at $799.  Each order comes with a free six-month subscription to YouTube Premium. A separate Pixel Stand is available for $79.

You can pre-order a Pixel 3 now with the first orders being delivered on Oct. 18.

Pixel Slate

The midnight blue 12.3-inch 293 PPI Pixel Slate tablet also features Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The "Molecular" LCD touchscreen display works with the Google Pixelbook Pen. There's also Pixel Imprint, which will remind many of Apple's Touch ID.

The Pixel Slate runs Chrome OS and will arrive later this year at various price points. Those prices are determined by the processor, RAM, and amount of storage you select.

You can choose from an Intel Celeron, Core m3, Core i5, or Core i7 processor. RAM options are 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB, with storage levels of 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB.

With prices starting at $599, the Pixel Slate could attract buyers looking for a Chrome OS-based tablet. Each purchase comes with a free six-month subscription to YouTube Premium. You can also buy a Pixel Slate Keyboard for $199.

The Pixel Slate arrives later this year.

Google Home Hub

As an Apple buyer, you're probably not going to consider a Pixel 3 or Pixel Slate. However, you might take a look at the new Google Home Hub. Priced at $149, Google's newest Home offering features a 7-inch display and serves multiple purposes, including as a full-range speaker.

First, you can use it just as you would any other Google Assistant-based device by asking it questions throughout the day. It also can control smart home appliances, including those from August, Canary, D-Link, and many more. At launch, the Home Hub supports more than 400 different brands across multiple product categories.

The Home Hub is also noted for offering YouTube, which is a big deal when you consider that Amazon's Echo Show no longer supports the service.

When you're not using Home Hub, it will post relevant information on the display such as the time, weather, and upcoming events. Unlike the recently announced Facebook Portal, the Home Hub does not have a built-in camera. Whether this becomes a deal-breaker isn't yet know.

The Google Home Hub officially launches on Oct. 22 with pre-orders beginning now. Like other new products, Google's offering a free six-month subscription to YouTube Premium with any purchase.

Chromecast, third-generation

Also on Tuesday, Google introduced the third-generation Chromecast. Once again, the tiny dongle lets you stream content from your mobile device or computer to your televisions. This year’s Chromecast model comes in chalk or charcoal and is priced at $35. It’s said to be 15 percent faster than the previous model and offers support for streaming 60fps video at 1080p.

The 2018 Chromecast can also act like a Chromecast Audio. In doing so, you can use it to play music in sync with other speakers connected to Google’s smart devices. That feature is expected to launch later this year through a software update. Beyond these changes, the new Chromecast is similar to the older model.

Interestingly, Google didn't update the Chromecast Ultra, which offers 4K streaming.

You can order a new Chromecast now.

Finally, Call Screen and Duplex

It's important to note two of the more exciting things Google mentioned today weren't hardware-related. The first is Call Screen, which allows Google Assistant to answer your suspicious calls automatically. From there, it will transcribe the conversation in real-time so you can decide what to do. Based on the transcription, you can choose to answer the call or to hang up. You can also block the call with ease.

Call Screen is launching first on the new Pixel 3 but will arrive on older devices in the coming weeks through a software update.

Google also announced it's controversial Duplex Al voice-calling feature will begin rolling out in select cities in November. The service allows, at your prompt, Google Assistant to call businesses such as restaurants or doctor's offices to make reservations.

Demoed earlier this year, Duplex was quickly panned because the sample conversations sounded too real. Like Call Screen, Duplex will now alert users when Google Assistant is involved in a call and make clear it's a bot and not a real person. Duplex is an exclusive feature for Pixel owners.

Google introduced some exciting new products today. In particular, I'm looking forward to testing the Home Hub. I also want to hear more about Call Screen and whether this type of feature could eventually arrive on iOS devices so we can block spam calls easier.

Which new Google products are you excited about seeing in the coming weeks? Let us know below.

All images courtesy of Google

How is a DxOMark score calculated anyway?

In the past few years, it seems as if the unveiling of new phones has been accompanied by a new name in specification bragging rights. If you follow smartphone announcements or if you have seen any number of introductory headlines in passing, there is a fair chance you have heard the name DxOMark.

Google bogged down with shipping Pixels, demand at Best Buy not a tenth of that for iPhone 7

Since launching its Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones in early-October 2016, Google's learned that real artists ship—the firm's done a poor job at shipping its latest and greatest phones which received glowing reviews due to their excellent cameras, built-in Google Assistant and other nice features. The company may have grossly underestimated demand for the larger 5.5-inch Pixel XL models.

One visit to its online store is enough to realize Google is struggling to meet consumer demand for its iPhone 7 rival. Regardless of the color option, both 32GB and 128GB models of Pixel XL are currently out of stock at the Google online store, said The Verge.

Pixels are only offered in 32 and 128 gigabytes and the 128GB one hasn't been in stock since November 30. Separately, AppleInsider learned from a source at Best Buy, which only sells 32GB Pixel models, that demand for Pixel isn't a tenth of that for iPhone 7.

Here are Google Pixel phones with better-than-iPhone 7 camera, built-in Assistant & more

As promised, Google today held a media event to launch new hardware and software products, among them a pair of new smartphones—a five-inch Pixel and a 5.5-inch Pixel XL. These are the first “Made by Google” phones that come with the firm's new Assistant built in. Google says the devices feature “the highest rated smartphone camera ever”, a battery that lasts all day and much more.

Leaked photos and commercial show off Google’s Pixel smartphones ahead of today’s unveiling

As we told you, Google will be unveiling a pair of “Made by Google” smartphones, the Pixel and Pixel XL, at a media event later today. Yesterday, British mobile retailer Carphone Warehouse posted a series of slides for the upcoming devices.

These images give us a solid advance look at some of the features of the upcoming smartphones. In addition, Rabid Rotty just captured on video a Pixel commercial that aired in Canada ahead of the unveiling.