What’s new from Google? The Pixel smartphone and Home smart speaker

The first smartphone made entirely by Google has been unveiled, alongside a smart artificial intelligence speaker…

25 Nov 2016


The Pixel smartphones and the Home speaker were unveiled at an event in San Francisco. The phones boast powerful cameras and sleek design, and they work with Google Assistant – the artificial intelligence software that also powers the Home speaker.

Here’s everything you need to know…


The Pixel smartphones

Google’s previous smartphones, the Nexus range, carried Google branding and ran the Android operating system. But the phones themselves were made by other manufacturers such as LG and HTC.

The Pixel, on the other hand, is the first phone made entirely by Google – ‘inside and out’ as it says on its blog.

So when you buy the Pixel you’re getting the complete package – a phone and an operating system made by the same company. This is the same as Apple, which makes both its iPhones and the iOS operating system. The aim is to ‘provide our take on the best Google experience’ as Google put it.

The Pixel comes in 2 models, the Pixel and the Pixel XL. The Pixel has a 5-inch display whereas the XL has a 5.5-inch display. Both phones come in silver or black.

The best bits of Pixel

  • Design: Incredibly chic – aluminium bodies, sculpted surfaces and rounded edges with a sheet of tough glass covering the front.
  • Camera: The highest rated smartphone camera available (DxOMark Mobile). Big pixels on the 12.3MP sensor capture lots of light.
  • Android 7.1: Pixel phones get the newest version of the Android operating system and will get automatic software and security updates from Google.
  • Headphones: The headphone jack has been missing from other high-profile phone launches but the Pixel retains it so there’s no need to go wireless.
  • Google Assistant artificial intelligence software is built in – simply say ‘OK, Google or press the Home button. (See next section for more details.)

 The palm-sized Pixel and bigger Pixel XL smartphones are now in-stock. Get your hands on one

Google Home speaker and Google Assistant

The Home speaker works with the Google Assistant artificial intelligence software. It works by connecting to your home Wi-Fi and communicating with other devices – like your smart home tech and TV.

Similar to the recently launched Alexa and Amazon Echo – you can talk to the Home speaker to get stuff done and find things out.

Simply say ‘OK, Google’… to get started.

The Pixel phones also work with Google Assistant so can also carry out tasks like these without needing the speaker… 

Tell it to…

  • Play The Beatles or Taylor Swift from Spotify
  • Turn down your heating by connecting it to a Nest learning thermostat
  • Dim the lights by connecting to Philips Hue lightbulbs
  • Stream Netflix’s Stranger Things to your TV by connecting to a Google Chromecast

Ask it…

  • Questions – such as ‘what’s the capital city of Brazil?’ or ‘who was Henry VIII’s first wife?’
  • How long it will take to get to work today
  • To wake you up at 7am on Saturday
  • For details of your first meeting tomorrow

But what makes Google Assistant different on both the Home speaker and Pixel phones is its ability to hold conversations. So as well as getting answers and setting tasks, you can have a conversational thread where the next command is in relation to the last one. For example, if you’re looking for restaurants in an area, you can then narrow down the search by asking about price and then whether it’s family-friendly.


Chromecast goes 4K

Google also launched an updated version of its Chromecast media streamer, designed for 4K TVs.

The Chromecast has been hugely popular, with some 30 million sold. It’s a small device that plugs into your TV’s HDMI port to make it internet connected for streaming Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube and more.

Now we have a version designed specifically for the latest 4K and 4K HDR TVs – the Chromecast Ultra. It comes as Netflix et al start seriously increasing their 4K content, and as more people are making their next TV 4K.

Have you upgraded yet? 8 reasons to buy a 4K TV now. 


Check out our latest tech