By Carlo Versano
Google held its "Made by Google" event in New York Tuesday, unveiling a slate of new gadgets, including a pair of new Pixel phones and a brand-new smart speaker/screen device, positioning itself to take on similar products from Facebook and Amazon.
Ashton Udall, a product manager at Alphabet's ($GOOGL) Google, gave Cheddar a close look at the Home Hub, which consists of a tablet-sized screen, smart speaker, and Google Assistant built in. One of its most obvious uses will be in the kitchen. Udall called the device, with its recipe and YouTube interfaces, a "secret weapon sous-chef."
"We came up with a great recipes experience," he said. "Not only can you ask for recipes of certain dishes, but you can even just tell it, 'Google, these are the ingredients I have. Show me recipes.'"
The Home Hub also aims to simplify the "smart home" experience with a dashboard where users can manage all their internet-connected devices and appliances.
"So now, finally, one single interface that you can control everything going on around your home ー your lights, your thermostat, and of course, your cameras," Udall said.
Notably, the Home Hub doesn't have a camera. One day after Facebook ($FB) announced its first foray into hardware ー with a tabletop device that includes a movable camera that can recognize users and follow their movements around a room ー Google seemed to be making a point. The company said the decision to make the device camera-free was intentional, so people would feel more comfortable using it in private spaces like bedrooms.
It seems part of a larger effort by Google to showcase how seriously it's taking privacy concerns ー even as it reels from a recent report that execs purposely kept Google+ vulnerabilities a secret to avoid regulatory scrutiny.
The Home Hub is priced at $149, substantially lower than the Amazon ($AMZN) Echo Show, the device's most obvious competitor. It includes six months of YouTube Premium and will be available on Oct. 22.
The Pixel 3 will have "standard" and "XL" models, which will compete directly with Apple's ($AAPL) newest iPhone line. The company touted the phone's advanced camera, which includes an A.I. feature that automatically finds the best photo in a group, a wide-angle lens built for group selfies, and a low-light functionality, or "Night Sight," a feature that Google said "works so well you'll never use your flash again."
Other features include a more powerful speaker, an OLED display, and a call screen button, which automatically answers a call and shows a real-time transcription of the conversation on screen.
The Pixel 3 will start at $799 and hit shelves on Oct. 18.
The successor to Google's Pixelbook, the Pixel Slate, is a high-functioning tablet with a detachable keyboard that pits it against the iPad Pro and Microsoft's ($MSFT) Surface Pro. The Slate will run Chrome OS rather than Android, and it looks and acts somewhere in between a tablet and a laptop. It has front and back-facing cameras, stereo speakers, and starts at $599, with pricing going up to $1,599 for faster processors and more memory. The keyboard (with a trackpad) will cost another $199.
The Pixel Slate will be available later this year.
For more from the Google event click here.