Google on Wednesday unveiled an expanded portfolio of hardware products in the latest sign that it remains committed to moving beyond its core advertising business and competing with the likes of Apple.
At its first personal developer conference in three years, Google announced three new smartphones and its first in-house smartwatch, as well as plans to release a new tablet next year. Google has also announced updates to many of its most popular tools including Maps, Google Translate, and its core search products.
Here are the main points:
Google surprised fans of its smartphone lineup on Wednesday by teasing two new flagship devices – the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. While the company has not shared many details, the two smartphones are expected to be launched this fall.
Google also announced the Pixel 6a smartphone, which is an affordable version of the Pixel 6 range that was released earlier this year. The Pixel 6a is powered by Google’s internal Tensor chip and will be available in three colors – green, white and black.
It will cost $449 and be available July 21.
There is no shortage of Android smartwatches in the market, but now Google is planning to make a new smartwatch of its own for the first time.
The company teased the much-touted Pixel Watch, which will use the Google WearOS operating system and be compatible with services like voice-enabled Google Assistant, Google Maps, and Google Wallet.
Integration with Fitbit, which Google acquired in 2019, will add several activity and fitness tracking features.
The Pixel Watch will be available this fall, alongside the Pixel 7 lineup. Google has also introduced a new Pixel Tablet, which the company says will be released in 2023.
Google also announced a new iteration of the Bluetooth earbuds called Pixel Buds Pro.
The new earbuds are available in four colors – orange, green, white and black – and offer features like active noise cancellation and spatial audio. Pixel Buds Pro will cost $199 and release on July 21.
In addition to the hardware, there have also been a number of new software updates. Soon, Google Maps users will be able to get a realistic view of specific cities via 3D rendering of attractions, restaurants, and businesses in order to better visualize the space. While Maps already offers both satellite view and Street View options, Google says its new pan-view feature combines these two options to “create a rich digital model” that makes users feel like they’re on the ground.
A sliding scale will allow users to see what the area looks like at different times of the day, how busy it is, and local traffic conditions.
The Mass View feature will be available in Los Angeles, London, New York, San Francisco and Tokyo later this year, on all mobile devices using Google’s Android operating system. The company said it plans to add more cities as it develops this feature.
Google is adding 24 languages to its translation tool, Google Translate — a move the company said focuses on the large-scale African and Indian languages, and languages that are generally lacking in technology.
They include the Quechua language, which is spoken in the Andes, particularly in Peru; Lingala, a language spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Assamese, which is spoken in northeastern India. and Tigrinya, which is spoken in Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The company said the additional languages bring the total number the tool can translate to 133, and will be available to all Google Translate users in the coming days.
Google is launching a new skin tone scale that it hopes will make its products more inclusive.
Many beauty and technology companies rate skin shades based on what is known as the Fitzpatrick Scale. Developed in the 1970s by a Harvard dermatologist, it’s used to categorize how different skin tones respond to UV rays (and, by doing so, predict a person’s risk of sunburn and skin cancer). Although it only has six skin colors, tech companies have used it for years to inform everything from emoji colors and how wearable heart rate monitors work on different skin tones to efforts to make AI fairer at Facebook.
The company said it will start using the monk’s skin tone scale, which was developed by Harvard professor Ellis Monk and includes 10 different shades. Google uses it to do things like test how well AI models (such as those that can identify faces in photos) work on people of different skin colors. The company also uses the metric in Google Image searches, such as allowing people to narrow beauty-related image queries by skin shade.
Google will also open the source for the metric so others can use it.
Google is introducing virtual credit cards to help protect users’ financial information while shopping online.
The feature creates a virtual card number that users can automatically fill in in place of the actual card information on Android mobile devices or in Google’s Chrome browser, and hides their real credit card number from companies they shop from.
Virtual cards will be rolling out this summer — initially only to US users with Visa, American Express, and Capital One credit cards. Google says it plans to add support for MasterCard later this year.
Another feature was announced Wednesday that aims to give users more control over the results that appear when someone searches for their name in Google.
This feature, which will be rolled out in the coming months, will make it easier for users to request that their personal information such as phone numbers, email and home addresses be deleted from search results.
Google plans to allow users to customize the ads they see as they browse the Internet, with the ability to choose which brands and types of ads they want to see and don’t want to see.