Google used its big product event today to serve up some interesting virtual reality announcements — including plans for an experience with J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and deals to offer content from Netflix, HBO and Hulu.
The company is promoting the Daydream View VR headset controller, that it says is lighter and more comfortable than predecessors — and can fit over glasses. It will be available in November for $79.
In the Fantastic Beasts production, the controller transforms into a wand.
Google also wants users to use Daydream View to immerse themselves in conventional video content, play games, look at their photos, tour destinations using Google Maps’ Street View, and watch YouTube.
Netflix, HBO and Hulu will bring their entertainment to the platform. The company says it will have more than 50 partners and apps by year end.
The VR headset will work with multiple phones, but especially a new smartphone, called Pixel, that it’s making, not outsourcing.
It’s designed to showcase Google Assistant which responds to voice commands to answer questions and handle simple chores, similar to the Amazon Echo.
“Our goal is to build a Google for each person,” says CEO Sundar Pichai. The service can understand multiple people’s voices and different languages.
“It will continuously get better as we make progress with machine learning and [artificial intelligence].” he adds.
As you’d expect, the company touted Pixel’s camera, which has 12.3 megapixels, an f/2.0 aperture, video stabilization — and free, unlimited online storage.
It will include the Google Duo video calling app, plus screen sharing for customer support. In addition, the company says it will take just 15 minutes to give it a 7-hour charge. The phone has a fingerprint sensor, and a 3.5 mm headphone jack — which Apple recently jettisoned.
Models will be available in black, silver, and blue with a screen size of 5 or 5.5 inches. Pricing begins at $649 available for pre-order.
In other announcements, Google will offer Chromecast Ultra, a TV streaming device that can handle 4K video. It will be able to handle wired ethernet as well as wifi and will sell for $69.
The company will challenge Amazon Echo with Google Home, which has a built-in speaker to respond to voice commands.
It also can call up, and pause, certain TV programs when paired with the Chromecast. Netflix will support the platform.
Google Home will cost $129 and come with a six month free trial of YouTube Red. It ships on November 4.