May 16, 2022

Google LLC is refreshing its Pixel product line with a half-dozen new devices coming over the next year or so, including multiple smartphones, wireless earbuds, a tablet and a smartwatch.

The devices made their debut at the company’s annual Google I/O developer event today. Some of the new products are set to launch this year, while others will become available for purchase in 2023. Most of them run on custom chips developed in-house by Google’s engineers.

The first new addition to Google’s consumer hardware portfolio is the Pixel 6a, an entry-level version of the Pixel 6 smartphone that the search giant introduced last year. The device features a similar design as the original Pixel 6, but will become available at a lower $449 price point when it launches on July 21. 

The Pixel 6a features a 6.1-inch display with a resolution of 2,340 pixels by 1,080 pixels and a 60-Hertz refresh rate. There’s an 8-megapixel selfie camera, a 12.2-megapixel wide-angle camera and a 12-megapixel ultrawide lens. According to Google, the Pixel 6a can operate for up to 72 hours on a single charge thanks to a new setting dubbed Extreme Battery Saver.

The Pixel 6a is powered by the same internally designed Tensor chip that Google ships with the Pixel 6. It’s a system-on-chip that combines an eight-core central processing unit with a 20-core graphics processing unit. There’s also a dedicated machine learning module, as well as a set of circuits dedicated to cybersecurity tasks such as storing encryption keys.

The Pixel 6a made its debut at Google I/O today alongside the Pixel Buds Pro, a pair of high-end wireless earbuds likewise equipped with custom silicon. A six-core audio chip developed by Google enables the earbuds to provide an active noise cancellation capability. There’s also integration with Google Assistant.

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The search giant has equipped the Pixel Buds Pro with a number of additional features designed to improve the user experience. “Pixel Buds Pro use Silent Seal to adapt to your ear, to help maximize the amount of noise that’s canceled,” Google product manager Nidhi Rathi explained in a blog post. “And built-in sensors will measure the pressure in your ear canal to make sure you’re comfortable even during long listening sessions.”

According to Google, Pixel Buds Pro can operate for 11 hours per charge without active noise cancellation and for seven hours when the feature is enabled. The device will become available on July 21 for $199.

Alongside the Pixel 6a and Pixel Buds Pro, Google previewed several upcoming additions to its consumer hardware portfolio.

Google executives detailed that the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, the company’s next-generation Android smartphones, will feature a new version of the Tensor chip used by the Pixel 6. The search giant hasn’t yet shared the chip’s specifications. However, Google did disclose that the new devices are set to launch in the fall.

The next-generation Pixel 7 phones will be joined later by a new Pixel tablet, a successor to the Pixel Slate that Google launched in 2018 and discontinued last year. The device will run on Android rather than Chrome OS as its predecessor did. Google described the tablet as a “more premium” product today but hasn’t yet announced pricing.

In the wearable market, the search giant plans to challenge Apple Inc. with the newly announced Pixel Watch smartwatch. The device will run an updated version of Google’s operating system for wearable devices, Wear OS, that features a streamlined user interface. Users will also have access to a newly introduced digital wallet app called Google Wallet.

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Reports that Google is developing an in-house smartwatch first emerged last year. Earlier, Google acquired smartwatch maker Fitbit in a $2.1 billion transaction that closed last year.

Photos: Google

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