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October 5, 2017

The Morning After: Thursday, October 5th 2017

by John_A

Hey, good morning!

All Google everything. You name it, and Google launched it. Phones, headphones, VR, speakers, camera, laptop — and all with AI in one form or another. It’s Thursday.

Two sizes, almost the same phone.Google introduces the Pixel 2 series — and it’s really proud of the camera

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After all those leaks, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are now a reality, and both ditch the headphone jack. They’re both (a little) squeezable, which will coax the phones to launch Google Assistant for your questions and search queries, while also packing water resistance and a camera that’s apparently better than last year’s well-regarded Pixel phone. Google was keen to sidestep the tech spec nitty-gritty and talk about the AI smarts it’s stitching into its phones. You might recall Google’s Lens visual search from earlier in the year — well that’s coming to these phones before the end of 2017. The phones also have a redesigned UI, because people can’t leave things alone, and both are possibly the purest Android devices we’ve ever seen.

‘This one’s just right.’
A Google Home for every… home

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Similar to Amazon blitzing us with Echo speakers in a bunch of form factors, Google’s showcase revealed the Home Mini and the Home Max. Those self-explanatory names do half my job for me, and while the Mini goes with a cheaper price and a more subtle design, the Home Max centers on audio quality. Oh and a price tag that will pit it again Apple’s HomePod speaker when it arrives. Naturally, we spent time with both of them.

Oh, and they also play music or whatever.
Google’s Pixel Buds are a real-life Babel Fish

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Now that the Pixel 2 dropped its headphone jack, Google is preparing a pair of wireless buds to go with it, AirPod-style. When paired with a Pixel 2, they gain the power to do real-time translation between 40 different languages. Just say “Help me speak (language)” and talk, then your phone will output the words in that language. Then when the other person replies, you’ll hear their words in your own language, right in your ear. The $160 Buds will ship in November.

How much will you pay to run ChromeOS?
Google introduces its $1,000 Pixelbook

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After a couple of years off, Google is back with another premium laptop, and this one is impressive. The Pixelbook is thin and light, measuring at 2.2 pounds with a 12.3-inch screen, and it’s powerful, with options for Core i5 or i7 processors, plus options for 512GB of storage and 16GB of RAM. It can flip around for use as a tablet, there’s a pen and it can automatically tether with your Android phone. Oh, and don’t forget support for Android apps, and news that partners like Snapchat are reworking their apps to better support ChromeOS. The only potentially bad news is its price, which starts at a very MacBook- and Surface-like $1,000.

It’s also the photographer.
Google Clips is a tiny AI-powered camera

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For some reason, Google decided to cram some of its imaging smarts into a tiny square-ish camera. It doesn’t have a screen, and Google wants you to let the camera take the photos itself. Somehow, it manages to take notable shots and clips all through AI-powered image processing, focusing on people and animals it thinks you’d like to see photos of. Will it be a hit? Maybe not. But that probably doesn’t matter.

But wait, there’s more…

  • Hands-on with Sonos One: ‘The Smart Speaker for Music Lovers’
  • HP’s Spectre x360 13 hides your screen at a push of a button
  • Plex makes its adaptive streaming tech available to all
  • Apple watchOS update addresses LTE vs. captive WiFi problems
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