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Google launches Pixel smartphone in hardware push

Google yesterday launched its Pixel smartphone with built-in assistant as the tech giant made a direct challenge to the iPhone with its own branded, premium-priced handset.

The unveiling of Google’s in-house designed phone came as part of an expanded push into hardware by the US firm, which also revealed details of its new “home assistant,” virtual reality headset and Wi-Fi router.

The San Francisco event marked a shift in strategy for Google, which is leading a major push of its artificial intelligence software, Google Assistant, centered around its new smartphones and other devices.

Rick Osterloh, head of a new hardware division at the California-based internet giant said “We are building hardware with the Google Assistant at its core,” stressing that “We believe that the next big innovation is going to take place at the intersection of hardware and software, with AI at the center.”

Pixel smartphone will be available with a five-inch display or a 5.5 inch display, starting at $649 for US customers, at similar prices to the latest iPhone models. Pre-orders began on Tuesday in Australia, Canada, Germany, Britain, and the United States.

Google, by using its own name on handsets, is aiming for a bigger slice of a competitive smartphone market dominated by Samsung and Apple.

 “It’s the first phone made by Google inside and out,” said Sabrina Ellis of the Pixel product management team.

By producing both the hardware and Android software, Google is making a more direct assault on Apple and its tightly controlled ecosystem.

Along with being the first smartphone to ship with Google Assistant, it will come with unlimited storage for photos and videos and be compatible with the company’s new Daydream virtual reality platform.

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