22 May 2019
Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones sit on display during a launch event in New York on Tuesday. Photo: Bloomberg
Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones sit on display during a launch event in New York on Tuesday. Photo: Bloomberg

Google unveils new Pixel phones, tablet

Google on Tuesday unveiled two new Pixel smartphones, a Google Home smart speaker with a display, and its first-ever tablet computer, signaling the firm’s growing ambitions to compete with tech rivals such as Apple and Amazon in the hardware segment.

At an event in New York, the firm showed off the Pixel 3 phone, priced at US$799, and a larger Pixel 3 XL, priced at US$899, representing the third generation of the Pixel devices, Reuters reports. 

The Pixel Slate tablet, seen as a challenger to Apple’s iPad Pro, comes with a price tag of US$599. It runs Google’s beefier Chrome OS laptop operating system rather than Android. 

Google branched into hardware three years ago so that, like Apple, it could have full control of the performance of its applications and the revenue they generate. 

Expanding geographic distribution should provide a small boost to the Pixel line-up.

The Pixel 3 will launch in 10 countries, up from six for the Pixel 2 a year ago. New additions include France, Ireland, Japan and Taiwan, according to the report.

A new artificial intelligence tool could also help generate buzz among consumers. The software, launching on US Pixels only, answers calls, requests information about the nature of the calls and shares it as text with the recipient.

“We’ve built the first phone that can answer the phone,” Rick Osterloh, Google’s senior vice president for hardware, was quoted as saying.

Google’s new smart speaker, which has a display to show visual responses to voice commands, mostly matches offerings from Amazon and Facebook.

Unlike its competitors, Google said its Home Hub, priced at US$149, does not have a video conferencing camera. Home Hub is launching in the United States, the UK and Australia.

Google shipped 2.53 million Pixel 2 and 2 XL devices through the nine months ended June, according to Strategy Analytics. The first Pixel devices are said to have hit 2.4 million shipments in the nine months ended June 2017.

Last year’s Pixel 2 arrived with bugs that prompted user complaints about unwanted noises during calls, a crashing camera app and an unexpected screen tint. In response, Google doubled warranties to two years.

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