Google in smartphone push with motion-sensing Pixel 4

New York (AFP) –


Google on Tuesday unveiled its newest Pixel handsets, aiming to boost its smartphone market share with features including gesture recognition that lets users simply wave their hands to get things done.

Pixel 4 models made their public debut as the internet titan updated its hardware lineup ahead of the year-end shopping season.

Google said Pixel 4 has a starting price of $799 in the United States and will be available starting October 24.

The 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 $699.

Google's New York City event unveiled included updates to Nest smart home cameras and speakers that come on the heels of Amazon's new Alexa-powered products and also announced its streaming game service Stadia would launch November 19.

While Pixel smartphones don't command much of the overall market, they provide an opportunity to showcase the Android operating system's capabilities and the Google Assistant, powered by artificial intelligence.

Google is keen to keep its software and services at the center of modern lifestyles, whether in smartphones powered by its Android mobile operating software or devices infused with its digital assistant.

Pixel 4 featured ramped-up camera capabilities, combining improved lenses with artificial intelligence to boost optical zoom and improve 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 technology relies on radar, taking a different approach than Samsung did when it built gesture commands into a smartphone.

- Stadia ready to go -

The California-based internet titan also used the "Made by Google" event to announce that it will launch its Stadia streaming game service on November 19, hoping to send console-quality play soaring into the cloud.

Stadia allows video game play on any internet-connected device, eliminating the need for games consoles.

It will be priced at $9.99 per month and compete against Apple Arcade, which is being offered at half that price.

Streaming real-time game play from the cloud promised to shake up a mushrooming market worth an estimated $135 billion globally last year, according to analysts -- with mobile platforms accounting for about half.

Google updated products across its hardware line, from Nest smart home devices to Chromebook laptops and wireless ear buds infused with artificial intelligence.

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.

The notion of online services and machine smarts being all around and always ready to serve people instead of needing them to tap at smartphones or keyboards is referred to as "ambient computing."

"Our vision for ambient computing is to create a single, consistent experience anywhere you go," said Rick Osterloh, head of Google's hardware division.

"It the mobile era, smartphones changed the world, but it is even more useful when computing is anywhere you need it, always available to help."

Google also said it is ramping up investments in renewable energy, aiming to offset all the power require to make its hardware with green power.