REMEMBER when Apple revealed new smartphones, a tablet computer, a TV device and fresh phone software earlier this month?
Well, today internet giant Google matched the company device for device, revealing new smartphones, a tablet computer, TV devices and fresh phone software in the early hours of the morning.
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Google chief executive Sundar Pichai, in his first announcement in the role, revealed the unusually large hardware haul at an event in San Francisco, kicking off with phones made for the company by LG and Huawei.
“Each year we try to push the state of the art and push the next generation forward and to do that we build hardware,” Mr Pichai said.
“We do that with our Nexus devices. This year we have gone a step further. We have a more comprehensive line-up.”
Google’s two new smartphones include the LG-made, 5.2-inch Nexus 5X that will sell for $659 and the Huawei-made, 5.7-inch Nexus 6P that will sell for $899 in Australia, undercutting Apple’s iPhones by hundreds of dollars.
Both will feature new camera technology, including 12.3-megapixel Sony image sensors with greater light sensitivity, 4K and slow-motion video capture and, in the Nexus 6P, the ability to capture 30 photos per second.
Google has also added fingerprint scanners to the back panels of both phones and, in a potentially controversial move, a new type of charging connection called USB Type-C previously seen on Apple’s MacBook.
The new plug type is reversible and enables faster battery charging but will mean users will be forced to replace their existing Micro USB cables.
Google also surprised some pundits by announcing a new tablet computer named the Pixel C.
The 10.2-inch tablet, due for release during the “holiday season” this year, is designed to be “convertible,” Google consumer hardware product management director Andrew Bowers said, and holds tight to a specially designed keyboard with “self-aligning magnets”.
“In the case of the tablet, we asked ourselves what would an ideal touch-plus-typing experience look like?” he said.
The tablet holds firmly to the keyboard and can be lifted to sit on a 130 or 135-degree angle “with no kickstand … to get in your way”. The Pixel C and its keyboard will cost $US499 and $US149 respectively at launch in the US later this year.
Both devices, and the new Google smartphones, will be among the first to deliver the company’s Android 6.0 software, dubbed Marshmallow, also demonstrated at the San Francisco event, and rolling out to other Google smartphones starting next week.
Android Marshmallow will deliver enhancements including Google’s improved Now On Tap feature that predicts what you’ll look up next, from movie times to maps, Google voice search from the phone’s lock screen, and the ability to revoke an app’s access to parts of your phone.
A new feature called Doze will also limit battery drain from apps when it senses the phone is not moving.
The internet search giant also revealed plans to expand Android’s reach to television and speakers, with an update to its Chromecast streaming device and a new audio gadget.
The new Chromecast streaming device features a round design for the first time that hides three antennas and faster wi-fi support and plugs into televisions with an attached HDMI cable.
The $US35 device also uses a new app that lets users search for television shows or movies across Chromecast-friendly apps on their phone, such as Netflix.
An entirely new device, Chromecast Audio, will work in a similar fashion for music streaming, plugging into the headphone port of a speaker to stream music from apps including Spotify, Pandora and Google Play Music. It will also be priced at $US35 in the US.
Despite the wealth of new hardware announced this morning, Google has yet to confirm Australian release dates for products, with its new phones listed but not yet available for purchase in its online store.