Google announces its first smartwatch, a new budget phone and more
Google announced several new gadgets during its I/O developer conference on Wednesday, including its long-awaited Pixel Watch, a new budget Pixel 6a phone and headphones. It also teased its flagship Pixel 7 phone, which is coming this fall, and said it’s working on a new tablet.
Hardware isn’t a key part of Google’s business, but that seems to be changing as it continues to launch new products. Google generated $61.24 billion in advertising revenue last quarter while its “other revenue” segment, which includes hardware sales, apps and nonadvertising revenue, generated $8.16 billion. But that increased from $6.67 billion in the year-ago quarter, and CEO Sundar Pichai said the Pixel smartphone hit an all-time sales record despite supply constraints.
Here’s what Google announced.
The Google Pixel Watch offers features similar to the Apple Watch’s and sports a refined and sleek look that could appeal to customers who use Android instead of the iPhone, which it doesn’t work with.
It will integrate Fitbit’s technology, allowing it to pull on years of research and development from the fitness startup it acquired last year. The Fitbit tech will let users track their sleep, heart rate and workouts.
The watch runs Google’s Wear OS software that lets users do things like check messages and download music. Users can also get directions with Google Maps or connect it with their smart home devices, so they can, for example, change their thermostat temperature or make sure the lights are turned off.
The company didn’t provide a price, aside from telling reporters in a call that it will be a premium-priced product. It will be available in the fall.
Previously, other companies like LG, Samsung, Huawei and Fossil built watches using Google’s software.
Google also announced its lineup of new phones.
Google will release its latest budget Pixel phone this summer. The Pixel 6a has mostly the same design as the Pixel 6, but will be slightly smaller and cost $449.
Google promised an all-day battery that can last up to 72 hours when in the Extreme Battery Saver mode, which it said is a first for Pixel phones.
It also uses Google Tensor, so the budget phone will have the same power as the more expensive Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
The Pixel 6a will also receive five years of security updates and comes in three colors: chalk, charcoal and sage.
Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro and a new Pixel tablet are coming
Google teased the new Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro flagship phones. They’ll use the next generation of the Google Tensor chip and will ship with Android 13. The company didn’t provide pricing, but the Pixel 6 had been targeted at the mid-range market with a $599 starting price, while the 6 Pro started at $899.
The Pixel 6 has become the fastest-selling Pixel ever. In the first six months of its launch, the 6 sold more units than the Pixel 4 and Pixel 5 in their first six months combined. The company wants to continue that momentum, which could help Google further take share from other Android makers, such as Samsung.
Google also teased a new Android tablet that will launch in 2023 and will also run on a Tensor chip. The company didn’t provide further details on price but said it will be a high-end product.
The company hasn’t launched a tablet since the Pixel Slate in 2018. However, some users complained that the tablet felt more like a laptop. Prior to that release, Google struggled with using Android as a tablet operating system. Google’s hardware boss Rick Osterloh said in 2019 that its hardware team would be focused on building laptops in the future, but was still “committed for the long-run on working with our partners on tablets for all segments of the market.”
Pixel Buds Pro
Google also announced its new Pixel Buds Pro earbuds. The Pixel Buds Pro will be available for pre-order July 21 and on the shelves July 28 for $199.
The Buds Pro finally offer active noise cancellation, which helps block out background noise and means they’ll compete more directly with Apple’s AirPods Pro. The earbuds have beamforming mics, a voice accelerometer and wind-blocking mesh covers to allow for clearer calls. They’ll also support spatial audio, which makes it sound like music is coming from all around you. That’s a feature also offered by Apple’s AirPods.
The Pixel Buds, which come in four colors (coral, lemongrass, fog and charcoal), have 7 hours of listening time with noise cancellation or 11 hours without it.