AWT News Update: October 4, 2016

Did we say "Apple World Today News Update"? We're sorry, but all of the news today is about Google's announcements. Of course, they DO have an impact on Apple and there are some comparisons we can make both pro and con. Here's what came out today:

  • Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones; probably the biggest impact to Apple will be the fact that the Pixel phones have a very good camera rating
  • Google Daydream, a VR headset that will hopefully be given iOS compatibility in the future
  • Google Home; think of this as Amazon Echo without Alexa and using Google Assistant instead
  • Google Wi-Fi, a router that can be bought in a 3-pack for network extension
  • and last but not least, the Google Chromecast Ultra, which unlike the 4th-generation Apple TV, actually supports 4K streaming

The text version of the podcast can be viewed below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below.

Text Version

Hi, this is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for October 4, 2016. It’s one of the slowest Apple news days I’ve seen in a long time, so we’ll take a quick look at Google’s announcements from today to start off with.

As we mentioned yesterday, Google scheduled a little hardware event for today, and the biggest announcement was that of the Google Pixel phones we discussed. The Pixel is targeted squarely at Apple and Samsung. For example, the Pixel is the first of the products announced today that features Google Assistant machine learning artificial intelligence built in, so that’s targeting Siri on iOS. Likewise, the camera in the Pixel and Pixel XL has received the highest DxO Mark camera rating of any smartphone on the market — an 89 score, compared to the 86 that the iPhone 7 received. Note, of course, that DxO still hasn’t published its results for the iPhone 7 Plus camera. Google took the time to point out that there’s “no unsightly camera bump” on the Pixel and that the smartphones include a 3.5mm headphone jack. The phones will be available at Verizon stores and unlocked at the Google Store online. Colors include “Very Silver”, “Quite Black” and “Really Blue”.

Next, Google took a shot at Samsung by announcing its new VR headset called Daydream. This holds a Pixel phone and is covered with soft fabric for comfort, with no word on whether it’s going to be iOS compatible like Google Cardboard. Why is this a shot a Samsung? Well, Samsung’s Gear VR is pretty heavy, works only with the Galaxy line of smartphones, and also about $200 without the phone…unless you get one for free as a come-on to get a Galaxy S7. If they do provide Daydream support for iOS, I’ll be signing up for one ASAP - they run $79 and will ship in November.

Another shot from Google, this time pointed at Amazon. Google Home is a hands-free smart speaker that uses Google Assistant to do things like search music and videos, then blast them over to a Chromecast dongle. Google Home will cost $129 and is packaged with a six month free trial of YouTube Red; you can expect to see it widely available on November 4.

Google also announced Google Wi-Fi, which is a modular Wi-Fi router system that users can put in any room that needs stronger signal strength. A single device costs $129, while a 3-pack that would cover a home in fast Wi-Fi will run $299. Another smackdown at Apple comes from Chromecast Ultra, which supports streaming of up to 4K video content. Of course, the 4th-generation Apple TV cannot stream 4K content. The device will be available in November for $69, less than half the cost of Apple’s device.

Hopefully we’ll have some more Apple news for you tomorrow afternoon when we bring you another edition of the AWT News Update.