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Google unveils Pixel 3 and Home Hub smart screen

Google is releasing an updated version of its high-end Pixel phone packed with new camera tricks, a Chrome O...

Posted: Oct 9, 2018 9:12 PM
Updated: Oct 9, 2018 9:12 PM

Google is releasing an updated version of its high-end Pixel phone packed with new camera tricks, a Chrome OS tablet and its first smart-screen device with Google Assistant.

Put another way: Google is taking on the iPhone, the Surface Pro and the Echo Show.

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The company announced on Tuesday the new Pixel 3, Pixel Slate and Google Home Hub. All three are additions to its "Made for Google" lineup and were announced at a press event in New York City.

The trio represent the latest update from Google's two-and-a-half-year-old hardware division, which is finally building a single, cohesive Google device brand.

"We've realized that if we wanted to push the envelope on innovation, we really needed to have a focused hardware effort," Rick Osterloh, Google's SVP of hardware, told CNN Business during an early look at the new products. "That meant combining the very best of Google's technology — our AI, our software and all of the hardware that we're building — to create a great user experience."

The launch of a device with an always-on microphone and a camera comes at a critical time for the company. On Monday, Google acknowledged a previously undisclosed vulnerability that had to potential to expose Google+ accounts, but no evidence of a breach was found. The company did not mention the issue at the event.

Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL

At the center of the Google hardware ecosystem is the new Pixel 3, a sleek Android device that comes in two sizes (regular and XL) and three colors (black, white and pale pink).

For this update, Google has kept the phones the same size but made the screens larger by pushing them closer to the edges of the phone. The Pixel 3 costs $799 and its 5.5-inch display is 5% larger than its predecessor. The Pixel 3 XL has a 6.3-inch screen that is 10% larger than the previous version and costs $899. Other than their size, the two devices share all the same features. Google has also added wireless charging to both phones.

The main draw of the Pixel 3 is its photography features. There's a new wide-angle selfie lens on the front for group shots, but unlike other phones in the price range, the Pixel has not added a second back-facing camera. Instead it focuses more on computational photography: software-based improvements for photos.

"We have the world's best imaging scientists working on our camera technology, and they've been working on similar problems for Google for 20 years," said Osterloh. "The very first image search came from this technology group."

Google honed some of that new camera technology in last year's oddball "Clips" camera, a stationary device that used AI to detect when to take photos of your family.

The Pixel 3's software automatically finds the best option in a burst of photos, like one in which the subject is smiling with their eyes open. A night mode combines multiple photos into one brighter image, and a super zoom does the same to piece together a sharper far-away scene. Photobooth, the most Clips-like feature, detects the right moment to take a photo. And the Playground feature uses image detection to recommend interactive, animated graphics to overlay on photos.

Meanwhile, Google Lens -- the company's image-recognition app -- is now built into the camera app, and Google Assistant will field calls from unknown numbers with pre-recorded replies and transcriptions of the conversation.

To show off the camera, Google has hired famed photographer Annie Leibovitz to take photos around the country of inspiring people and places. The company will unveil the series of photos sometime in the future.

Google Home Hub

The evolution of smart speakers seems to include screens.

Amazon was first with its Echo Show. Google partnered with third-party companies earlier this year on screen-festooned speakers with the Google Assistant voice interface. And on Monday, Facebook announced the Portal, its own smart screen device specifically designed for video calls.

Now Google has made its very own "smart screen," the $149 Google Home Hub. Overall the device has most of the same features as the third-party Google Assistant smart screens. Google did add a RGB sensor to measure the light in a room and adjust the screen accordingly, including dimming at night. The gadget, which comes in three colors, looks like a phablet mounted on a bluetooth speaker.

Google's business plan for the Home line is to make money not only selling the devices but also with subscription services like YouTube Music, Osterloh said. As of now, the company isn't discussing putting ads on the devices, or how it is collecting or using data.

"Where it goes in the future, who knows, but our main aim is to make sure we're giving great value to users and putting them in control," he said.

Other gadgets

Google also announced the Pixel Slate (starting at $599), a large Chrome OS tablet aimed at professionals. The Chromecast dongle is getting a slightly new look, but it will still cost $35 and perform the same streaming tasks. There's also a Mickey Mouse-shaped mount for the regular Google Home smart speaker, designed for kids who like to use the voice assistant and play voice games.

Some people might look at a smart screen device and think, why can't I just put my phone in a stand, leave on its microphone and have it do the same thing? Well, Google is here for you on that: The company is making a special stand for the Pixel 3 that basically turns it into an always-listening smart display.

Google finally put its Nest division under the Made by Google management earlier this year, but there were no new announcements from that line on Tuesday.

Privacy, security, and timing

With privacy being top of mind for consumers this year, Google's Tuesday event may have come at an inopportune time -- just one day after the reveal of the vulnerability that could have exposed Google + accounts. The company says privacy is something it takes seriously.

"Security and privacy are a huge consideration when we design these products," Osterloh told CNN Business. "We also make sure that when we're designing products, we're thinking through all privacy considerations for the end user. Our approach to this is to make sure that we give users lots of control and transparency about all of the privacy considerations in their product usage."

--CNN's Kaya Yurieff contributed to this report.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314509

Reported Deaths: 7247
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21626259
Hinds20359415
Harrison17934309
Rankin13634278
Jackson13447246
Madison10099217
Lee9980174
Jones8381163
Forrest7683152
Lauderdale7191241
Lowndes6401147
Lamar623086
Lafayette6200118
Washington5339134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462798
Panola4588107
Pearl River4512146
Marshall4443103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420772
Monroe4113133
Union411076
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3968110
Hancock379386
Leflore3497125
Sunflower336090
Tate334084
Pike3325105
Scott315973
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311669
Itawamba300477
Copiah297065
Coahoma295479
Simpson295288
Tippah288768
Adams286882
Prentiss279760
Marion269280
Leake268373
Wayne262641
Grenada261487
Covington259681
George248048
Newton246861
Winston227281
Tishomingo226967
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw207857
Holmes189173
Clay185454
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178841
Clarke178080
Calhoun170832
Yalobusha164338
Smith162434
Walthall133945
Greene130633
Lawrence128624
Montgomery126942
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton99525
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83823
Quitman80916
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67331
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 532895

Reported Deaths: 11001
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson771431528
Mobile41089808
Madison34837505
Tuscaloosa25810454
Montgomery24355588
Shelby23730249
Baldwin21191309
Lee15892171
Calhoun14522316
Morgan14324279
Etowah13861353
Marshall12250223
Houston10581281
Elmore10060205
Limestone9986151
Cullman9705194
St. Clair9702243
Lauderdale9441242
DeKalb8846187
Talladega8255176
Walker7246277
Autauga6938108
Jackson6815112
Blount6694137
Colbert6310134
Coffee5524119
Dale4850111
Russell443238
Chilton4308112
Franklin426282
Covington4136118
Tallapoosa4039152
Escambia393977
Chambers3578123
Dallas3557152
Clarke351161
Marion3130101
Pike311377
Lawrence300798
Winston275673
Bibb261564
Geneva251477
Marengo249664
Pickens234761
Barbour231756
Hale223277
Butler216469
Fayette212562
Henry189044
Cherokee184745
Randolph181742
Monroe178040
Washington167639
Macon159950
Clay156857
Crenshaw152757
Cleburne149141
Lamar142935
Lowndes139053
Wilcox127130
Bullock122841
Conecuh110629
Coosa107928
Perry107826
Sumter104832
Greene92534
Choctaw61124
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