Google is holding an event in San Francisco today, where it is widely expected to unveil its new Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones. The company’s latest effort to sell consumers on a Google-branded device and to challenge Apple Inc at the high end of the market. Analysts predict the San Francisco product launch will also showcase other Google hardware initiatives, including a voice-controlled speaker system called Home to challenge Amazon.com Inc’s Echo device, and a virtual reality headset.
Google has declined to confirm any specifics, although it previously described some of these products back in May.
Google makes most of its money from online software and digital ads. But it’s putting more emphasis on hardware as it faces rivals like Apple, Amazon and South Korea’s Samsung. Google has sold Nexus phones since 2010, but the devices have gained little traction in a market dominated by Samsung Electronics.
Android already powers the majority of smartphones sold around the world. But Samsung, the biggest maker of Android phones, has increasingly been adding more of its own software, even its own Samsung Pay mobile wallet, on the phones it sells.
Another big rival, Apple, has built its own services, such as online maps and its own Siri personal assistant, to replace Google’s apps on the iPhone.
Just like Amazon, Google has a speaker that’s designed to sit in your home and answer any query you have, from football scores to the news headlines and the weather. It’s called Google Home and isn’t a secret, but we’re expecting the company to announce pricing and availability in the UK at its October 4 event. Google Home connects to the internet and a range of smart devices from light controls and thermostats to music streaming services to carry out scores of tasks.
“Assistant” is the company’s answer to similar concierge services from rivals, including Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. The leading tech companies are all competing to assist consumers in their online activities such as shopping, since that gives the companies a better chance of selling advertising or other services.
Google may also provide a closer look Tuesday at some other products, including a new virtual-reality headset that it teased in May. Like the other devices, Google’s virtual reality system could be a platform for a wide range of games and applications that are built on Google’s software.
The speaker, which will come in a range of colours to match home decor, uses artificial intelligence to learn about the user and get to know their needs, likes and dislikes.