Lots of big announcements from Google’s annual developer conference yesterday. It’s been a mix of exciting new products coming soon (and some a little later), further AI advances, and some more refinements to the myriad of services and apps that pervade so many of us.
I’ve pulled out some of the highlights below, frantically trying to capture some of the other notable headlines, but, whoa, Google has had a lot to do in terms of hardware: Pixel 6a, Pixel 7, Pixel Buds Pro, and even a Pixel tab.
First off, yes, the Pixel Watch is real and it’s coming this fall. It features a nearly bezel-less dial flanked by a “tactile crown.” It runs Wear OS 3 and includes deep integration with Fitbit software for its health and fitness tracking capabilities. As review editor Cherlynn Low put it, “It looks like a bezel-less Samsung Galaxy Watch.”
— Mat Smith
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Google’s Pixel 6a offers tensor power for $449
It looks like a big upgrade for the mid-range line.
The Pixel 6a is powered by Google’s first Tenso AI chip, just like the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro before it. It’ll cost a lot less – just $449 – when it hits shelves on July 28. It shares the same unique two-tone body (and camera frame) as the Pixel 6, which helps it stand out from other black mid-range slabs.
Google has also downsized the screen from the 5a’s 6.34-inch display to 6.1-inches. Along with smaller body materials, this means it’s roughly the size of the Pixel 5. Rejoice in not huge phones. The biggest sacrifice at this price might be the camera: the 6a has a 12-megapixel sensor compared to the Pixel 6’s 50-megapixel main camera.
Google teases the Pixel 7
Two models coming later this year.
Google teased a preview of the Pixel 7 – 6a, schmix-a. Unfortunately, there weren’t any specific specs on cameras or components, but we did get a glimpse of the Pixel 7’s design, which retains the distinctive camera bar that debuted on the Pixel 6. For 2022, an improvement for the Pixel 7 is a new frame made from recycled aluminum.
Sony’s Xperia 1 IV smartphone features the “world’s first true optical zoom lens”
It’s all about the cameras again.
Timing, Sony! Its latest flagship phone boasts a range of innovative image-centric features, including what it calls the “world’s first true 85-125mm optical zoom lens,” along with true 4K at 120fps, live streaming and even external monitor capabilities. Perhaps the main feature is the new telephoto zoom, with an equivalent zoom range of 85-125mm, enough for sports, wildlife and more. To build it, Sony seems to have used a 90-degree periscope system.
Pixel Buds Pro are Google’s first active noise-cancelling earbuds
Spatial audio is coming soon.
Google’s $199 Pixel Buds Pro are coming much earlier than the rest of its new hardware. They arrive on July 28th, with pre-orders starting on July 21st. Key features include support for multipoint connectivity, IPX4-certified waterproofing, and active noise cancellation. The most intriguing feature for me is Google’s new tool called Silent Seal. The company says the Pixel Buds Pro mold to your ears to maximize the effectiveness of the ANC, and the earbuds also monitor the pressure in your ear canal and relieve pressure when needed to keep you comfortable. I haven’t found the Pixel Buds particularly comfortable in the past – let’s see how the Pro version fares.
Google is teasing its next generation of AR glasses
The company offered a sneak peek of a future wearable.
A decade after Google Glass debuted at I/O 2012, Google is working on a new line of augmented reality glasses. The company teased the device at I/O 2022, sharing a short clip demonstrating some of its capabilities. We’ve seen an “early prototype” of the wearable transcribe a conversation in real time and translate it live from Spanish to English in another demo.
The Sonos Ray is the company’s most affordable soundbar to date at $279
The company has made a few compromises, but it still sounds great.
Sonos home theater speakers are typically premium products, with the $449 Beam being the cheapest soundbar the company has made. Now the company is introducing the Ray, its most compact and affordable soundbar, launching June 7th. At $279, it doesn’t compete with budget options like Roku’s $130 Streambar. But in a preview demo, the Ray appears to be a powerful soundbar that will be a massive upgrade over almost any TV’s built-in speakers.
Texas law allowing users to sue social networks for censorship is now in effect
A Court of Appeals judge said social networks are not websites but “Internet providers”.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed the injunction on controversial HB 20 law, whose enactment another court blocked last year. Under the law, users can sue major social media platforms with more than 50 million monthly active users, such as Facebook and Twitter, if they believe they have been banned for their political views. HB 20 also prohibits social networks from removing or restricting content based on “the user’s or another person’s point of view.”
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