Google has launched a new line in smartphones along with other gadgets designed to take on electronic giants like Apple and Samsung.
The decision to brand the phones with the Pixel name, rather than Nexus, marks a break with the past, and is intended to signify that they were designed in house rather than by another manufacturer.
The Google Pixel phone has a virtual assistant which responds to voice commands, as does its ‘Home’ device, a sleek internet-connected speaker that is designed to respond to voice commands.
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A new virtual reality headset is shortly to be available called Daydream View which will work with the new Pixel phones and other devices based on Google’s Android software.
The new devices represent a big push by Google to make and sell its own hardware, instead of largely just supplying software for other manufacturers.
At a starting price of roughly $650 in the US, the new Pixel phones are aimed at the same markets as Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy flagship handsets.
The phone comes in two sizes, and its high-end camera is one of few distinguishing features, analysts said. The phones come in black, blue and silver and will be able to get up to a seven-hour charge in 15 minutes.
“Aside from the camera, the new Google Pixels are pretty undifferentiated compared to Samsung and iPhone seventh generation phones,” industry analyst Patrick Moorhead said.
This is the clearest sign yet that Google intends to compete head-to-head with Apple, Amazon.com and even manufacturers of phones using its own Android mobile operating system.
Company executives, echoing Apple’s longstanding philosophy, said they were striving for tighter integration of hardware and software.
“The thinking is that if we can work on hardware and software together, we can innovate much better,” Google hardware chief Rick Osterloh said.