There’s a battle brewing in Silicon Valley, and it’s between two of the world’s technology superpowers. Google, longed viewed as mainly a search engine and Internet service, is now taking on Apple in a number of new areas as both companies fight for customers in the ever-changing technology space. Three recently announced products from Google seem to definitely be pitting the two companies against each other.
Apple’s biggest seller is clearly the iPhone, but it’s about to face some new competition when Google releases its newly announced Pixel, the first phone with the Google assistant built in. Aside from a sleek design somewhat reminiscent of the iPhone, Pixel also features a powerful camera that takes photos quicker than the literal blink of an eye and Android’s new Nougat 7.1 operating system, which allows for amazing battery life and for apps to operate as quickly as they do on laptops. Pixel also stands out with its enhanced gyroscopes to reduce shakiness in video recordings, a fingerprint scanner that also works as a track pad, and the ability to twist the phone mid-air to turn on the selfie camera. Many of these features are in direct competition to the iPhone, especially with the upgrades in the recently released iPhone 7.
The smartphone hardware industry is a $400 billion business, and Pixel shows Google’s strong move to be a big player. Google’s previous smartphone efforts included a co-branding effort of the Nexus that outsourced much of the development to other smartphone companies. This time around, it’s all Google. Google is jumping in with both feet by not only managing Pixel inventory and managing distribution, but also creating a new hardware division and manufacturing Pixel accessories like cases and cables. Google is no doubt following the Apple method of unifying products and services under their own umbrella instead of working with third parties. Apple is notorious for developing and building everything in house, something that Google will emulate with Pixel.
In its effort to stay innovative with new artificial intelligence technology, Google recently introduced an at-home virtual assistant box similar to Amazon Echo called Google Home. Using voice activation, users can check the weather, stream video to a Google Chromecast device, or control smart home elements like smart lights or locks. It all comes out of a sleek box that simply sits on a table in your home.
Perhaps more notable than what Google Home does is what it doesn’t do—play music from Apple or Amazon’s streaming services. And although it isn’t certain, there is a good chance Google Home won’t allow users to purchase items from Amazon’s online store. Instead, users can stream music on Google Play, YouTube Red, or services like Pandora and Spotify. However, this isn’t unique to Google Home; Amazon Echo doesn’t allow users to stream from Google Play or YouTube.
Apple doesn’t currently have a product in direct competition to Google Home, but it is reportedly working on a home-based AI assistant. There’s no word on when Apple’s version will be released, but it will face a rather penetrated market when it arrives, especially after the birth of Google Home.
Google is also expanding to the wireless business with the launch of Google Wifi, an Internet router that uses hockey puck-like portals throughout the home for seamless streaming and surfing. The concept and design is very similar to Eero, which also allows users to put multiple wireless stations throughout the house. The system then intelligently routes Internet traffic to the nearest Wifi unit, allowing for a strong wireless signal no matter what you are streaming or where you are in the house.
Google previously ventured into routers in 2015 with OnHub, but Google Wifi is the company’s first completely in-house attempt. Google Wifi also allows users to control the system with an app, set parental controls, and even pause the network when they just need some Internet-free time.
The closest thing Apple has to Google Wifi is Airport, a router that allows for ultra-fast wireless Internet and automatic compatibility with Apple products. Airport uses a single unit rather than multiple smaller units like Google Wifi, but both systems are powerful and intuitive wireless systems.
If anyone can threaten the domination of Apple in the technology industry, it’s Google. Armed with innovative products and leading technology, Google could be making its move to become top dog in many new areas.