Le logo du moteur de recherche Google à Londres le 11 février 2016

After software, Google ready to show muscles in devices

San Francisco (AFP) – Google, best known for its online services and software, now seems to be preparing a show of strength in devices, where it is expected to challenge Apple and Amazon on Tuesday with new smartphones, a tablet and an assistant for the home.

The internet giant has sent invitations for an event organized from 09: 00 local time in San Francisco (16: 00 GMT), and it has suggested that it may well unveil a phone: in a message on its Twitter account, the keyword #madebygoogle accompanies an animation where we see the outline of the search bar gradually transform to imitate the silhouette of a smartphone.

“This is an opportunity for Google to show off its latest devices,” Brian Blau, an analyst at research firm Gartner, told AFP.

According to the vision presented by its boss Sundar Pichai at a conference for developers in May, Google seems to want to exploit its strengths in software, for example in artificial intelligence, and integrate them to the maximum in its devices. This would allow it to compete more directly with other tech giants like Apple, Amazon or Samsung, all of which are striving to establish themselves as much as possible in the daily lives of consumers.

The internet giant has collaborated in the past with several manufacturers for devices marketed under the brand “Nexus” and supposed to serve as a showcase for the capabilities of its Android mobile operating system, different versions of which now run more than 80% of smartphones sold worldwide.

But by focusing on a product “made by Google”, it fuels speculation that it could this time have a greater grip on design, and even tackle Apple’s iPhone head-on with its own line of high-end smartphones.

According to specialized sites, these could carry a new brand, “Pixel”, and show the prowess made possible by Nougat, the latest version of Android.

– Home assistant –

Observers expect, however, that Tuesday’s presentation will not be limited to smartphones: Google could introduce a new Chromecast device to watch streaming content from the internet on a TV, a wifi router, and perhaps announce when exactly it will release its virtual assistant integrated with a connected device for the home, Google Home.

The latter had been unveiled in May at a conference organized by the group for developers, Google evoking at the time a commercialization by the end of this year and the ambition to make it “a control center for the whole house”.

Google Home is thus clearly positioned this time as a rival for Amazon’s Echo range of devices, voice-activated home assistants with artificial intelligence that have achieved certain success since their presentation two years ago by the online commerce giant.

Brian Blau also anticipates partnerships for applications or services that make Google’s devices more attractive, as well as new on Daydream, a virtual reality platform that the group also announced in May for the fall.

This could take the form of a headset in which smartphones would serve as a screen. “The idea would be that Google’s smartphone, just like Android smartphones made by third parties, are part of the Daydream program,” says the analyst.

– Single operating system –

Other rumors also evoke the debut of a new tablet that would be manufactured in collaboration with the Chinese group Huawei, or the approximation of Android and its equivalent for computers, Chrome, into a single operating system (already dubbed in the media “Andromeda”).

“It is expected that the new Andromeda operating system will bring some of the capabilities of Chrome for PCs to Android, in order to form a super operating system that could work through smartphones, tablets and laptops,” Bob O’Donnell, chief analyst at TECHnalysis Research, said in a blog post.

According to him, such an operating system would have the potential to seriously attack the computer market and come to challenge Microsoft and its flagship Windows software, as well as the macOS equivalent at Apple.

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