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Google introduces its own smartphone, the 'Pixel'

The Pixel is the first Google-designed and branded smartphone.

By Stephen Feller
The Google Pixel, the first Google-branded phone, will be available in three colors and two sizes later this year. With the Pixel, Google also unveiled its Google Home device, a new WiFi router and the upgraded Google Assistant. Photo by Google
The Google Pixel, the first Google-branded phone, will be available in three colors and two sizes later this year. With the Pixel, Google also unveiled its Google Home device, a new WiFi router and the upgraded Google Assistant. Photo by Google

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Google on Tuesday unveiled the Google Pixel, its own smartphone, to compete with Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Android phones.

In addition to the Pixel, the company introduced its own WiFi router, the Google Home system and Google Assistant at its #madebygoogle press conference in San Francisco.

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With the Pixel, Google moves to designing its own hardware to run its Android mobile operating system. The previous series of Google phones, under the name Nexus, were produced by other companies with input from Google.

The Pixel will be the first phone designed entirely by Google.

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"Through Nexus, the goal was to work with these various partners to push the boundaries of what's possible with a smartphone," Brian Rakowski, Google's vice president of product management, said in a blog post. "We've now decided to take the next step and provide our take on the best Google experience, by bringing hardware and software design together under one roof."

The phone -- which looks like a cross between an iPhone and several different Android devices -- comes in two sizes -- the 5-inch Pixel and the 5.5 inch Pixel XL -- and features a Gorilla Glass display, aluminum body and a fingerprint sensor called the Pixel Imprint. The 12.3-megapixel camera is referred to as the best ever on a smartphone, and Google took a direct swipe at Apple by noting in its presentation the lack of a camera bump on the back.

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The big feature on the phone, which Google tied to its other device debuts, is the Google Assistant, a next-generation version of Google Now and Google On Tap which is tightly integrated into the phone.

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Google Assistant also powers the Amazon Echo-like Google Home, a small pod with LED lights on top and a speaker at bottom, that can play music, find information on the Internet using verbal cues and control any Internet-connected device in the house just by speaking.

In addition to Home, Google unveiled a WiFi router, which utilizes mesh networks -- basically several overlapping signals that allow for seamless WiFi between several devices. The idea, the company says, is to place several around a house or office in order to keep a WiFi signal strong throughout the structure.

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