Google unveils new range of AI-enabled devices


Google on Friday launched a new range of devices – ranging from phones, headphones, speakers, cameras and laptops – loaded with artificial intelligence (AI) aimed at giving rivals Amazon and Apple a run for their money.

The firm launched its second generation Google Pixel phone, which boasts larger and brighter screens, which takes up more of the front part of the device. The upgrade is in line with what is expected from Apple when it launches its iPhone X, set for release in November.

The Pixel XL at six inches, and five-inch Pixel, will also follow Apple's iPhone 7 lead by removing the headphone jack.

A highlight of both devices is the upgraded camera system. Optical image stabilisation for taking pictures, improved auto-focus for objects and optimized augmented reality applications from third-party developers are some of the improvements one can expect.

Both devices will have OLED screens, but  will differ from the new iPhone X and Samsung S8 models in that the display won't cover the entire front of the device.

The camera's software will once again make use of Android-based versions of Apple's Portraid Mode and Live Photo software, as Portrait MOde and Motion Photos.

Portrait Mode will blur backgrounds when taking a picture of a person or object, while Motion Photos will add a 1.5 second video clip to the beginning and end of the photo.

Fingerprint scanners on the back will remain standard on both devices, even though the competition is moving towards integrating biometrics into screens or using facial recognition for user authentication.

The headphones, called Pixel Buds, will be wireless and in addition to relaying audio from the phone, will also be capable of translating spoken language in real time by using translation software built into the new Pixels.

A small, lightweight camera, called Google Clips, has been designed to pair with the Pixel and can be 'clipped' (attached) to surfaces to take pictures which are then stored in the Google Photos app. The device makes use AI which helps it to automatically recognise and take pictures of subjects important to the user.

It works similarly to the Google Glass, but unlike the infamous head-mounted device that caused a stir because it enabled users to snap photos without anyone noticing, Clips comes with an indicator light so that people in the vicinity will know when its in use.

The Smart Speakers are called the Google Home Mini and Google Home Max. The Home Mini will retain features from its cylindrical speaker released last year to rival Amazon's Echo.

AI used in the Home Max will enable it to learn the user's musical taste and so become a digital DJ that will automatically select music the user will enjoy, and will also work with a wider range of music-streaming services than Apple's HomePod.

The speakers have a December release date for the United States.

The laptop, known as the Pixelbook, is the first to be powered by Google Assistant and will support SnapChat. It features a 12.3-inch LCD touchscreen, 10-hour battery life, a hinge to fold it into a tablet and ChromeOS as the operating system.