All the Pixels
Google has wrapped up its two-hour-long I/O keynote, which was absolutely packed with news. We heard about AI, Android, and, of course, a plethora of Pixel hardware. Here are the biggest announcements we saw on Wednesday.
Google announced its new mid-tier phone, the Pixel 6A, which will cost $449 when it’s available for preorder on July 21st. The company seems to be flipping its usual script for this phone — previous A models have featured a camera comparable to the one found on Google’s flagship Pixels but had weaker processors. The 6A, though, has the Pixel 6’s Tensor chip and design but opts for a 12-megapixel camera versus the 50MP one on the standard 6.
Oh, and despite the fact that Google released a two-minute ad about the Pixel 5A’s headphone jack last year, the 6A doesn’t have one. Womp womp.
The Pixel Watch’s hardware was thoroughly leaked, so it’s no surprise that it’s showing up on this list, but Google’s finally given us a look at what the software will be like. The wearable will run an updated version of Wear OS 3 and will feature a Fitbit integration that lets you keep track of your health metrics. There are still some unanswered (and very important) questions about the watch, though: we don’t know what kind of chip it’ll be powered by nor do we know how much it’ll cost. It’s slated to launch later this fall alongside the Pixel 7.
The next generation of Pixel phones is on the horizon. Here’s a first look at the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro — equipped with a new generation of Google Tensor and a sleek design. Coming this fall. #GoogleIO pic.twitter.com/WMysJv1lZP
Oh right. Yes, Google teased the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro with a few renders, showing that the phones will have some slightly different camera cutouts and back panel. Like Google’s current Pixels, the 7 and 7 Pro will have two and three cameras, respectively. The pink color will apparently be gone, though, so I’ll never be happy again.
Let’s not beat around the bush here: Google has announced its version of Apple’s AirPods Pro. The Pixel Buds Pro will cost $199, feature active noise cancellation, and have an estimated seven hours of battery life when you’re using ANC. Google says the Buds have a custom audio chip and that they’ll support Bluetooth multipoint, letting them connect to two devices at once. That’s a neat trick and one that’s not particularly common in the earbud world. They’ll also come in several colors, including black, red, and green, and will be available to preorder on July 21st.
Google announced that it plans to release an Android-powered tablet next year to act as a “perfect companion for Pixel with a larger form factor.” The writing for this one has been on the wall for a while. (Android 12L focused on large-screen experiences, and there have been some tablet-related hires over in Mountain View.) But it’s good to hear that Google is looking to get into tablets again. The only real hardware detail we have about Google’s upcoming device is that it’ll have a Tensor chip in it.
Right at the end of its presentation, Google showed off a pair of AR glasses that were capable of real-time translation during a conversation. There are pretty much no details on whether this will be a product people can buy, but it’s certainly interesting to see more hints of Google’s plan for joining companies like Snap and Meta in the race to put AR on your face.
As is often the case, Google’s I/O presentation was chock-full of AI news. Perhaps the biggest is that it’s going to start letting people test its language model. Not just anyone will be able to try out LaMDA 2, but eventually, Google hopes to bring the tech to search and its other products (though it wants to do so very slowly).
There were a bunch of smaller AI-related stories as well. Google announced that its auto-generated translations are coming to YouTube on mobile, that you’ll be able to just look at your Nest Hub Max and start talking to the assistant, and that your phone will be able to look at a shelf full of chocolate bars and pick one out for you based on what you’re looking for. That last one Google described as “a supercharged Ctrl-F for the world around you.”
The company’s also expanding its multisearch feature, which lets you search along multiple axes. For example, you can give Google a picture of a specific type of cuisine you’re looking for and ask it where you can find that nearby.
Google had a whole set of security and privacy announcements, including plans for the My Ad Center interface: a hub that will let users customize the types of ads they see by selecting from a range of topics they are interested in or opt to see fewer ads on a given topic. It also said the company is focused on implementing additional security features for its products by default, in addition to the concept of “protected computing” to do more processing on-device rather than sending data elsewhere.
Google went over its plans for Android 13, and the next version of its mobile OS seems to be going further with the ideas introduced in Android 12. The company is adding Material You themes to more places, letting you set apps to use different languages, and adding a few security and privacy features. That doesn’t add up to an earth-shattering release, but as my colleague Jon Porter points out, that’s probably a good thing. Android 12 has been a bit messy, so a year of refinements and small improvements is probably warranted.
For those who want to try it out, the beta is available today.
Google is bringing back its Wallet app as a place to hold not just your payment cards, but your passes, rewards program memberships, vaccination records, and more. Google says the app is built for the age of digital identity. While I realize that’s probably the future, that knowledge doesn’t make me miss my physical Google Wallet debit card any less.
Google’s adding a new mode to Maps, which is basically Street View from the sky — in select cities, you’ll be able to get an overview of a location to get a better view of the geography before getting lost in the streets below.
Update May 11th, 3:25PM ET: Added Google’s surprise AR glasses preview.
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