Google To Release New Pixel 4 Smartphone, Available In Singapore On October 24
Google has stepped up its smartphone ambitions with updated Pixel handsets, touting a move towards computing with a simple hand wave or spoken command.
The updated Pixel 4 models boast features that include gesture and face recognition and were debuted at a "Made by Google" event showcasing new hardware infused with artificial intelligence to respond to motion and voice.
The Pixel 4 handset with a 5.7-inch display will be available globally starting October 24, including in Singapore. StarHub will be the only telco in Singapore to carry the phones when they launch, with pre-orders available on the Google Store, Challenger and Courts.
The starting price of a Pixel 4 is $1,119 in a storage capacity of 64GB while the XL starts at $1,319 in 64GB too. The phones will come in three colours: Just Black, Clearly White and a limited edition Oh So Orange. These new devices aim to ramp up Google's challenge in the premium smartphone segment dominated by Samsung and Apple, which recently unveiled an iPhone 11 starting at $1,149.
Google also updated its Nest smart home cameras and speakers and announced its streaming game service Stadia would launch November 19.
While Pixel smartphones have struggled for traction in the smartphone market, they provide an opportunity to showcase the Android operating system's capabilities and the Google Assistant digital aide.
Pixel 4 features improved camera capabilities, using artificial intelligence to boost optical zoom and take better photos taken after dark, with a feature devoted to capturing images of the heavens at night.
Motion-sensing technology that Google has been working on for some time is built into Pixel 4 and will allow for some basic controls, such as silencing alarms or skipping to the next song, by holding up or waving hands. The handsets also include a "face unlock" feature similar to those on iPhones and other devices.
Amid antitrust reviews on both sides of the Atlantic over its online dominance, Google is seeking to diversify its business by adding more devices and services.
Stadia streaming game service ready to go
The California-based internet titan will launch Stadia streaming game service on November 19, hoping to send console-quality play soaring into the cloud. It will be priced at US$9.99 (S$13.69) per month.
Stadia allows video game play on any internet-connected device, eliminating the need for game consoles.
Google updated products across its hardware line, from Nest smart home devices to Chromebook laptops and wireless ear buds. A common theme was making it more natural to use Google to tap into the internet and digital assistant capabilities naturally with voice or gestures at any time.
(Related: The Smart Devices From CES 2019 That We Want In Our Homes)
Building in privacy
Google emphasised privacy enhancements in its line of products, which kept more personal data and computing functions on devices instead of sending it to datacenters in the cloud.
"Privacy is built in," Google director of product management Sabrina Ellis said while introducing Pixel 4.
"New Google Assistant can respond to day-to-day requests on-device."
Data processed on Pixel 4 handsets is "never saved or shared with other Google services," she added.
Additional reporting by Andrea Saadan