A guest holds the new Google Pixel 3 XL smartphone during a Google product release event. Picture: Getty
A guest holds the new Google Pixel 3 XL smartphone during a Google product release event. Picture: Getty

Google’s new phone stops annoying calls

INTERNET giant Google made a bold pitch to smartphone buyers overnight, promising users of its latest handsets would "never have to talk to another telemarketer" again.

The company made the oddball commitment at the launch of two smartphones, a tablet computer, and a smart hub with a screen in New York City, and was one of the few details of the event that had not leaked online beforehand.

The new feature, named Call Screen, is an extension of artificially intelligent technology unveiled earlier this year when it was used to phone a hair salon and book an appointment on behalf of a human.

The latest use of the Duplex technology can be triggered by tapping a "Screen Call" icon when a suspected marketing phone call arrives. The handset will announce the recipient is "using a screening service from Google" and the caller should "go ahead and say your name and why you're calling".

Users can then read a real-time translation of their answer and choose to report the call as spam or hear more.

Google hardware senior vice-president Rick Osterloh said the addition was designed to reduce the stress of using a mobile phone.

"We're taking our users' wellbeing very seriously," he said.

"With Pixel 3, we've built the first phone that can answer the phone."

A Google spokesman said the new Pixel 3 phones would be the first to receive the Call Screen feature when the software was introduced in American cities next month. The company did not reveal plans for a worldwide launch.

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL will launch in Australia, however, with the smaller, 5.5-inch phone starting at $1199, and the larger, 6.3-inch phone reaching a top price of $1499 for a 128GB model, undercutting the 64GB Apple iPhone XS Max by $300. Pre-orders will arrive in Australia in as little as three weeks.

The phones won't come with two rear cameras like its Apple rival, however, with Google instead opting for two cameras on the front of the phones for wide-angle selfies and an artificially intelligent single camera on their back panels.

The larger Pixel 3 phone will feature an edge-to-edge screen with a "notch" at the top, as well as wireless charging, and a new security chip to encrypt users' passwords and information.

The tech giant also revealed a new smart speaker with a screen dubbed Google Home Hub but, unlike the Facebook Portal revealed yesterday, it will not feature a camera.

The new device, which is designed to control other smart appliances within the home, will come with a 7-inch display, full-range speaker, work with Android, Apple, and Windows devices, and will be priced at $219 in Australia.

The company also revealed a tablet computer called the Pixel Slate at the event, though it doesn't appear to be 'slated' for launch in Australia.

Google's hardware announcements come just one day after the tech giant attracted criticism for revealing it had failed to disclose a security vulnerability that exposed the personal details of as many as 500,000 users of its social network, Google+.

The flaw, discovered in March, meant third parties could have collected the names, email addresses, genders, ages, and occupations of users.

Google said it did not reveal the vulnerability as it determined no one had accessed the information, and instead announced its plan to shut down Google+ next year.

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