Google unveiled a new lineup of hardware products in a move to go beyond its core advertising business and compete with brands like Apple.

Dubbed as the “most powerful company in the world,” Google stands alongside Amazon, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft as one of the Big Five—a group that encompasses the current four or five largest, most dominant, and most prestigious companies in the information technology industry of the United States.

And while Google is known by many as a search engine, this American multinational company’s products and services go far beyond that. From artificial intelligence to online advertising, cloud computing, computer software, quantum computing, and e-commerce, Google now adds consumer electronics to its roster of offerings. This is in the hopes of competing with the likes of Apple—a brand known for its smartphones and gadgets.

During its first in-person developer in three years—on Wednesday, May 11—Google announced its plans to release three new smartphones, along with its first in-house smartwatch, and a new tablet next year. Likewise, the brand adds that it will be updating some of its popular tools: Maps, Google Translate, and its very own core search product.

Here’s what to expect from this tech giant:

Three New Pixel Smartphones

At the I/O developer conference, Google teased fans with sneak previews of its two new flagship devices: the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. Although not a lot of details were shared, the expected release date is set sometime around Fall. Likewise, the company also debuted the Pixel 6a smartphone—a more affordable version of its Pixel 6 lineup, which was released earlier this year.

Powered by Google’s in-house Tensor chip, the Pixel 6a will come in three colors: green, white, and black.

Pixel Buds Pro

Following the market’s growing interest in wireless, Bluetooth earpieces, Google also announced the new variant that will be joining its line of earbuds: the Pixel Buds Pro. With features like active noise cancellation and spatial audio, these new earbuds also come in four colors to choose from—orange, green, white, and black.

The Pixel Buds Pro will cost $199 (around PHP 10,442) and will be released on July 21, 2022.

Pixel Watch

While the market is currently populated with an abundance of Android smartwatches, Google still plans on joining the playing field with its very own smartwatch—a first for the tech giant. At the conference, the company teased the much-hyped Pixel Watch, which will use Google’s WearOS operating system and likewise be compatible with services such as its voice-enabled Google Assistant, Google Maps, and Google Wallet.

Integrated with Fitbit, a company that Google acquired in 2019, this smartwatch will also include several activity tracking and fitness features. The Pixel Watch will be available in Fall, along with the Pixel 7 lineup. Meanwhile, Google also teased a new Pixel Tablet, which will be released in 2023.

Immersive View on Google Maps

Aside from debuting new hardware, Google also announced some new software updates that users can expect. First off, Google Maps will now feature a real-world view of certain cities via a 3D view of popular sights, restaurants, and businesses for better visualization. And while this program already offers satellite view and street view options, Google says that its new immersive view feature combines those two to “create a rich, digital model” to make users feel like they’re on the ground.

What’s more, a sliding scale will let users see what the area looks like at different times of day, how busy it is, as well as local traffic conditions. This immersive 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 adds that it plans on adding more cities as it develops this feature.

New Languages for Google Translate

In a move to focus on the languages that are generally underserved by technology, Google will be adding 24 languages to its translation tool, Google Translate. These include African and Indian dialects like Quechua (spoken in the Andes, particularly in Peru), Lingala (spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo), Assamese (spoken in northeast India), and Tigrinya (spoken in Ethiopia and Eritrea).

According to Google, these additional languages bring up the total number of translatable languages to 133. It will also be available to all Google Translate users in the coming days.

Search Privacy Controls

Aside from protecting the privacy of users, Google will be releasing a new feature that gives users more control over what results show up when someone searches for their name on Google. Set to release in the coming months, this feature allows users to request for their personal information—from phone numbers to email and home addresses—to be scrubbed out from search results.

Likewise, Google plans to let users tailor what kind of ads they’ll see as they surf the internet. This includes choosing the brands and types of ads they do and do not want to see.

A New Skin Tone Scale

In order to make its products more inclusive, Google will be launching a new skin tone scale. But instead of using the Fitzpatrick scale—a model developed in the 1970s by a Harvard dermatologist, which many beauty and tech companies use to classify skin shades—Google will be using the Monk skin tone to train its AI products to recognize a wider range of complexions.

Developed by Harvard professor Ellis Monk, the Monk skin tone scale includes 10 different shades—a far cry from the 6 skin shades that the Fitzpatrick scale identifies. Through this update, Google will be able to test how well AI models (such as those that can spot faces in pictures) work on people of different skin tones and even use it in Google Images searches by letting users narrow down beauty-related image queries by skin shade.

The company will also open-source the scale so that others can use it.

Virtual Credit Cards

With online shopping on the rise, users now have to be more careful with their financial information. To answer this concern, Google will be rolling out virtual credit cards that help protect these important details when shopping online.

This feature generates a virtual card number that users can autofill instead of inputting their actual card information on Android mobile devices and in Google’s Chrome browser—thereby masking their real credit card number from the companies that they’re shopping from.

Virtual cards are set to roll out this summer—initially for US users with Visa, American Express and Capital One credit cards, but Google says that it plans on adding support for Mastercard later this year.

Photos from CNN Business


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