The technology group Google is expanding its business with devices. After many years of speculation, the company has now announced the launch of its first smartwatch. The pixel watch has a round stainless steel case, a crown, an always-on display and is equipped with extensive fitness functions.
With its first smartwatch, Google is intensifying its competition with Apple - and at the same time adopting a large part of the competitor's strategy. Apple has also repeatedly emphasized the fitness and health functions of its smartwatch. The newly introduced Apple Watch Ultra has even been specially designed for extreme sports.
At a presentation in New York on Thursday, Google also presented two new smartphone models. The Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro largely adopt the design of the previous Pixel smartphones with their wide and horizontal camera hump on the back. The frame of the devices is made of polished aluminum.
As is usual in this category, the Pro model, which is larger at 6.7 inches (17 centimetres), has three rear cameras for wide-angle, ultra-wide-angle and telephoto shots. It can optically magnify objects up to five times. The Pixel 7 model with its 6.3-inch display (16 centimeters) has to do without the telephoto lens and only has two cameras on the back.
Besides Apple, Google is the only manufacturer that can fully coordinate its hardware and software. The latest Android operating system, which also comes from Google, always runs on the Pixel smartphones. In addition, Google now uses its own processor in its smartphones. In the new models it is the Tensor G2 chip.
As a result, the group can deliver some functions that are not available from competitors. In the past, this included an extremely reliable transcription in real time and in several languages for sound recordings with Google's recorder app. The new Pixel 7 models display the content of audio messages sent via the Google messaging app in text form.
The integration of hardware and software makes other functions possible, including the "step-by-step selfie" for blind people or people with impaired vision. The correct positioning for a selfie is then supported via audio instructions, high-contrast visual animations and haptic feedback on the devices.
Google is building other features into its Photos app, but they'll be available on the Pixel 7 first. These include the sharpener, which is able to use machine learning to bring blurry and out-of-focus photos back into focus. This also works with older photos stored on Google Photos. Later, the sharpener should also be available on other smartphones with the Google Photos app.
Compared to the previous models, Google has mainly improved the night vision function, which allows you to still take pictures in low light. This has been a strength of pixel smartphones ever since – and has now been copied by many manufacturers. The new models should only take half the time to take pictures in very low light.
According to Google, the Pixel 7 models will receive security updates for at least five years. The Pixel 7 costs 649 euros, the Pro version depending on the memory size 899 or 999 euros.
With the Pixel Watch, Google is now celebrating its debut in the smartwatch market. The manufacturer held back here for a long time and left the field beyond Apple to the competitor Samsung in particular. The Pixel Watch runs the Wear OS operating system.
When it comes to equipping the smart watch with fitness functions, Google doesn't have to start from scratch. The group announced the acquisition of Fitbit about three years ago and completed it last year. Fitbit has years of experience with fitness watches and bracelets. The know-how has now flowed into the Pixel Watch.
With Fitbit Premium, Google offers a fitness service that provides even more advanced analyzes and health trends, but requires a monthly subscription. Google hopes to attract new users with its Pixel Watch, and buyers of the new watch will get the service free of charge for six months.
However, the Pixel Watch also has many features found on other smartwatches, including sleep tracking, navigation, the Google Assistant, playing music on Bluetooth headphones and contactless payments. Google specifies the watch's battery life as 24 hours. The battery can be charged halfway within 30 minutes.
With an update due later this year, the watch will also be able to recognize accidents and automatically start a call to an emergency service. The Pixel Watch costs 379 euros, with mobile reception 429 euros.
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