First impressions from this week's Google hardware event, which revealed the Pixel 3, Pixel Slate and Google Home Hub

 
Steve Hogarty
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At this week’s Google event, the search giant opened with a rather sheepish admission, following comprehensive leaks of its latest flagship Pixel phones. “We hope you agree that we’re better at making hardware than keeping secrets.”


But while the physical aspects of the new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones were already known about – bigger screens, better cameras and one of the notchiest notches yet notched – the software guts of the thing remained an alluring mystery. And there was more hardware waiting in the wings too, from Google’s rumoured screen-equipped Home, to the company’s first Chrome OS tablet. Here’s what Google revealed.


The Pixel 3 is available in Clearly White, Just Black and Not Pink

Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL
Both phones are identical in their core specifications, differing only in screen size, resolution and battery capacity. And, like meeting a celebrity, the Pixel 3 XL’s notch doesn’t appear so big in person. It houses two front-facing cameras, which gives the Pixel 3 the ability to shoot super wide-angle group selfies.

The single rear camera has also been imbued with a slew of new AI-powered tricks. Take a bad picture and you can essentially rewind the shot by a few moments to find a better one. Google’s machine-learning recommends the instant when your friend isn’t blinking, or when something interesting is happening in frame. The phone boasts next-level results in low-light photography too, employing an array of clever techniques to make night-time shots pop. Google boldly claims that you’ll never need to use your flash again.


The Pixel 3 can also answer itself. When a call comes through, you can choose to have the Google Assistant answer on your behalf. The caller’s response is then transcribed to the screen, giving you the opportunity to ignore PPI claims, nuisance calls or assorted jerks you’d rather not speak to. This feature is currently US-only.

Both phones launch in the UK on 1 November, with pre-orders available now. The Pixel 3 starts at £739, while the Pixel 3 XL starts at £869. There’s also the new Pixel Stand, a wireless charging dock for the bedside that turns your phone into an aesthetically pleasing photo and information frame. That costs £69.


The Pixel Slate is compatible with the existing Pixelbook Pencil

Pixel Slate
Google has dabbled in tablets before, but the Pixel Slate is the company’s best shot yet at taking on its iPad Pro and Microsoft Surface rivals. It runs Chrome OS, Google’s desktop operating system, rather than Android, which is geared towards mobile.

The Slate is sold on its own, but can be paired with a detachable keyboard which folds around the back of the device to form a magnetic kickstand, propping up its sumptuous 12.3-inch, 3000x2000 display.

The Slate is highly customisable too, with models ranging from an entry-level £549 device, to a Core i7 beast costing around three times that. It launches in the UK later this year.


The Google Home Hub, giving some guy called Ross his directions to work

Google Home Hub
A new addition to the Google Home family of smart speakers, the Google Home Hub is the first with a display. It’s powered by the Google Assistant, who can control your smart home, play music, answer doorbells and respond to your questions. The compact 7-inch screen will fit into most nooks, and dims to match the room’s ambient lighting, a neat effect that allows it to look like an actual printed photo frame when it’s not in use.

The display means you can watch YouTube tutorials and follow along with recipes while cooking, or simply have more visual feedback when asking about traffic on your commute or the day’s weather. It also shows the status of all your smart plugs and lights in one place.

It goes on sale in the UK on 22 October, for £139.

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