Google unveils a new smartphone line called Pixel

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google launched an aggressive challenge to Apple and Samsung today, introducing its own new line of smartphones called Pixel, which are designed to showcase a digital helper the company calls "Google Assistant."

The new phones represent a big new push by Google to sell its own consumer devices, instead of largely just supplying software for other manufacturers. At a starting price of $649, the new phones are aimed at the same markets as Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy flagship phones.

Google executives touted features such as a powerful camera and long-lasting battery during a product event today, where they said the phones will be sold in two screen sizes – 5 inches and 5.5 inches – and three colors: black, silver and blue.

But they're clearly hoping the new Pixel phones will be distinguished by their use of Google's software. A central element of all the new devices is the Google Assistant, a digital helper that uses artificial intelligence to deliver what CEO Sundar Pichai described as "a personal Google for each and every user."

Google makes most of its money from online software and digital ads. But it's putting more emphasis on hardware as it competes for consumers' attention.

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