Google Reaffirms its Focus on Hardware at NYC Unveiling Event

From a new Pixel with tiny but mighty upgrades to the Nest Mini's incredible audio, new products from the tech company

Though hardware (phones, speakers, laptops) makes up a small portion of what Google does, their releases remain significant. In fact, with each debut, they come closer to the likes of Apple and Samsung. Especially as Google’s roster of products grows to include smart-home and assistant-equipped products and the fourth generation of its smartphone: the Pixel.

Announced today, the new Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL (starting at $799) come with a 5.7-inch or 6.3-inch screen respectively. Most noticeably absent are the rear toggle for a fingerprint key (which has been replaced by facial recognition) and the single-lens camera. On the newest phone, two cameras sit side-by-side in the corner, affording better photos and improved night shots. On the front, a 90hz display makes swiping, scrolling and loading ultra-fast—and this is only the second phone to ever come equipped with such speed. Also notable, a recording app comes on each phone (a feature that customer feedback demanded) that transcribes as you record.

Courtesy of Google

The Pixel’s UX is also noticeably different. New radar technology, dubbed Soli, allows users to skip songs, silence alarms and calls, shuffle through photos and more just by swiping a hand in front of the screen—even when it’s locked. Similarly, when a hand approaches the screen the radar detects you’re likely to open the phone, activating an ultra-secure facial recognition technology to get you in without fuss. The innovation seems nominal until it’s in hand—and then it’s impressive.

Courtesy of Google

The company also announced a new iteration of the Pixel Buds (expected in spring 2020) which is truly wireless, unlike previous generations, and comes with adaptive sound technology that adjusts the output according to the volume of your surroundings. They’re also equipped with a larger Bluetooth range than almost all others. They’re lightweight and design-forward, and evidence of Google’s commitment to mastering the details.

by Evan Malachosky

That commitment stretches to even the smallest products, as Google introduced the newest Nest Mini. It can be mounted to the wall, functions like a speaker and an assistant, and rivals similarly sized devices in audio quality. Clarity and range are of upmost importance here, as Google knows the Nest Mini will likely be an addition to a pre-existing system or a starter purchase. Then there’s the Nest WiFi, a new mesh network router that will double as a Google Home—audio output and input both included.

Courtesy of Google

Finally, Google unveiled the Pixelbook Go, a reasonably priced 13.3-inch oyster shell-style laptop. It’s a value-priced alternative to costly laptops and tablets (at $649) and boasts plenty of the same features. A 12-hour battery-life comes standard, but it can also function for two hours on just 20 minutes of charging. The Go, emphasizing portability, features a ribbed bottom casing intended to make carrying it in hand far less risky.

Images by Evan Malachosky