At the recent “Made by Google” event, Google unveiled its latest offerings, including the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro smartphones, alongside the Pixel Watch 2. Despite numerous leaks leading up to the event, Google managed to create some excitement with its software improvements and modest hardware upgrades.
One notable aspect of these new devices is their integration with Android 14, which was originally announced at Google I/O in June. Android 14 brings forth several AI-based software enhancements, focusing on improving Google Assistant and introducing new photo editing tools. While hardware changes from the previous Pixel 7 series are not drastic, they include the introduction of the Tensor G3 AI accelerator, improved screen brightness, a new temperature sensor, and upgraded cameras.
The Pixel Watch 2 also received enhancements, including more accurate heart-rate sensing and improvements to safety features. It runs on Wear OS 4, which was announced at Google I/O and is available simultaneously with the new phones.
During the event, Rick Osterloh, Google’s SVP for devices and services, briefly discussed updates for other products. The Pixel Buds Pro, for instance, will see improvements in AI-enhanced sound quality and Bluetooth Super Wide Band technology for better sound quality and reduced latency. Additionally, the Pixel Fold will receive updates related to Dual Screen translation and Google Home AI and Assistant enhancements.
One of the significant announcements is the extension of Pixel support to seven years, ensuring users receive long-term support and updates.
Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro Phones
The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro share many similarities with their predecessors, but there are notable hardware and software upgrades. These include improved adaptive refresh rates for better battery life, rounded edges for a more ergonomic design, and Actua and Super Actua displays offering brighter HDR peaks.
Both phones feature main cameras with new dual-conversion gain sensors, enabling high dynamic range images in a single shot. Front cameras have slightly higher resolution, with the Pixel 8 Pro having autofocus capabilities.
Google Assistant receives improvements such as a more natural-sounding call spam filter and enhanced voice-message analysis for actionable items. A new Video Boost feature applies cloud-based retouching and stabilization to videos, while Night Sight processing is introduced for video.
The Google Camera app gains manual controls for various settings, along with enhancements to photo file formats. Notable AI-boosted features include “Best Take” for merging the best facial expressions and “Audio Magic Eraser” for noise filtering.
The Pixel 8 Pro stands out with a larger display and a temperature sensor. It can run lighter-weight generative AI operations thanks to in-phone AI foundation models. The 48-megapixel ultrawide camera with improved sensitivity and autofocus is another highlight.
The Pixel 8 Pro starts at $999 (£999, AU$1,699), and the Pixel 8 at $699 (£699, AU$1,199), with shipping beginning on October 12.
Google Pixel Watch 2
The second-generation Google Pixel Watch 2 incorporates Fitbit Sense 2 features, such as automatic workout tracking. Additional sensors for temperature and stress indicators have been introduced.
A more accurate heart rate sensor with data from multiple contact points enhances tracking, especially at high altitudes. Improved training tools leverage this new data, and the watch offers better performance with a faster processor, faster charging, and extended battery life. Safety features include “Safety Check” and real-time emergency location sharing.
The Google Pixel Watch 2 ships on October 12 for $350 (£349, AU$549), with preorders now available.
In conclusion, Google’s latest product lineup showcases a blend of software innovation and hardware improvements, ensuring a compelling user experience for Pixel enthusiasts.