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Pixel Watch.

Google

Google on Thursday announced the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro phones and its first watch, the Pixel Watch. The devices were first teased during Google’s developer event in May, but the company used an event in New York City to provide more detail about each new product, such as what’s new, how much they’ll cost and when you can buy them.

The Pixel is gaining momentum, but it still has just a fraction of the phone market. During Alphabet’s earnings call for the first quarter, CEO Sundar Pichai said the Pixel Series 6 is the “fastest-selling Pixel ever” and said the company set an all-time quarterly sales record. The company hopes that it can carry that momentum with the new Pixel 7.

Pixel 7 Pro.

Google

Google makes most of its money from advertising and doesn’t report revenue directly from its hardware products. The company reports an “other” revenue segment, which includes hardware, Play Store, and non-advertising YouTube revenue. In the second quarter of this year, the company said it brought in “other” revenue of $6.55 billion for the quarter, down slightly from $6.62 billion the prior year. Conversely, Apple made $50.5 billion in iPhone revenue during its second quarter.

The Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel Watch launch Oct. 13.

Here’s what you need to know about them.

The Pixel Watch has Fitbit built in

Pixel Watch.

Google

The Pixel Watch will embed health tracking features from Fitbit, which Google acquired for about $2.1 billion.

You can use Fitbit on the watch to track workouts, how well you slept, steps taken and more. If you’ve already used a Fitbit, it will sync right up with the existing app you already have on your phone. The Pixel Watch also comes with a six-month Fitbit premium membership. The service includes access to more than 200 workouts, offers information on how sleep and heart rate trends have changed over time and more.

But, like the Apple Watch, it has smartwatch features, too. It runs the company’s Wear OS software, which allows you to download apps from the Google Play Store. And it ties seamlessly into Google’s products such as Wallet, Gmail, Calendar and Google Home. The Pixel Watch only works with Android phones.

Google says the Pixel Watch can last up to 24 hours on a single charge, which is six hours longer than the Apple Watch Series 8.

The Pixel Watch starts at $349.99 for Bluetooth and WiFi and $399.99 for 4G LTE. Like Apple’s Series 8, it has Emergency SOS. The company says it will add fall detection later this year.

Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro

Pixel 7 all colors.

Google

The $599 Pixel 7 and $899 Pixel 7 Pro are the first phones to run on Google’s new Tensor G2 chip. It shows Google is continuing to build its own chips instead of using a chip from Qualcomm, which it ditched last year when it launched the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. The Tensor processor helps enable features that Google said it couldn’t provide otherwise, such as increased camera functions, on-device translation and more.

Google said the Pixel 7 has a 6.3-inch screen that’s 25% brighter than last year’s model for improved visibility outdoors. It’ll be offered with 128GB and 256GB of storage, which is plenty for most people, though folks who need more space to save big files such as videos should consider the Pixel 7 Pro, which ships with up to 512GB of storage.

Google’s Pixels have been known to have some of the best cameras on the market in past years. We don’t know how the Pixel 7 will match up just yet, but Google says it’s made improvements.

Google bumped the resolution of the back camera up to 50 megapixels, which should offer sharper images than last year’s phones. And, despite the cheaper price, the Pixel 7 has the same front-facing, main and ultrawide sensors as the more expensive model, but doesn’t have the added zoom lens on the back.

Pixel 7 Pro colors.

Google

The Pixel 7 Pro has a few other high-end trimmings. It has more memory, which should make apps and multitasking feel faster, and has a better display with a sharper resolution and higher peak brightness outdoors. It also has a higher refresh rate, just like the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which means scrolling through websites or playing games will look smoother.

You can order the new phones and watch beginning Thursday ahead of their Oct. 13 release.

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Britain expands AI safety institute to San Francisco amid scrutiny over regulatory shortcomings

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Britain expands AI safety institute to San Francisco amid scrutiny over regulatory shortcomings

An aerial view of the city of San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge in California, October 28, 2021.

Carlos Barria | Reuters

LONDON — The British government is expanding its facility for testing “frontier” artificial intelligence models to the United States, in a bid to further its image as a top global player tackling the risks of the tech and to increase cooperation with the U.S. as governments around the world jostle for AI leadership.

The government on Monday announced it would open a U.S. counterpart to its AI safety summit, a state-backed body focused on testing advanced AI systems to ensure they’re safe, in San Francisco this summer.

The U.S. iteration of the AI Safety Institute will aim to recruit a team of technical staff headed up by a research director. In London, the institute currently has a team of 30. It is chaired by Ian Hogarth, a prominent British tech entrepreneur who founded the music concert discovery site Songkick.

In a statement, U.K. Technology Minister Michelle Donelan said the AI Safety Summit’s U.S. rollout “represents British leadership in AI in action.”

“It is a pivotal moment in the U.K.’s ability to study both the risks and potential of AI from a global lens, strengthening our partnership with the U.S. and paving the way for other countries to tap into our expertise as we continue to lead the world on AI safety.”

The expansion “will allow the U.K. to tap into the wealth of tech talent available in the Bay Area, engage with the world’s largest AI labs headquartered in both London and San Francisco, and cement relationships with the United States to advance AI safety for the public interest,” the government said.

San Francisco is the home of OpenAI, the Microsoft-backed company behind viral AI chatbot ChatGPT.

The AI Safety Institute was established in November 2023 during the AI Safety Summit, a global event held in England’s Bletchley Park, the home of World War II code breakers, that sought to boost cross-border cooperation on AI safety.

The expansion of the AI Safety Institute to the U.S. comes on the eve of the AI Seoul Summit in South Korea, which was first proposed at the U.K. summit in Bletchley Park last year. The Seoul summit will take place across Tuesday and Wednesday.

The government said that, since the AI Safety Institute was established in November, it’s made progress in evaluating frontier AI models from some of the industry’s leading players.

It said Monday that several AI models completed cybersecurity challenges but struggle to complete more advanced challenges, while several models demonstrated PhD-level knowledge of chemistry and biology.

Meanwhile, all models tested by the institute remained highly vulnerable to “jailbreaks,” where users trick them into producing responses they’re not permitted to under their content guidelines, while some would produce harmful outputs even without attempts to circumvent safeguards.

Tested models were also unable to complete more complex, time-consuming tasks without humans there to oversee them, according to the government.

It didn’t name the AI models that were tested. The government previously got OpenAI, DeepMind, and Anthropic to agree to opening their coveted AI models up to the government to help inform research into the risks associated with their systems.

The development comes as Britain has faced criticism for not introducing formal regulations for AI, while other jurisdictions, like the European Union, race ahead with AI-tailored laws.

The EU’s landmark AI Act, which is the first major legislation for AI of its kind, is expected to become a blueprint for global AI regulations once it is approved by all EU member states and enters into force.

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$9 billion travel tech firm Navan on track to hit profitability this year and ‘not far’ from IPO, CEO says

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 billion travel tech firm Navan on track to hit profitability this year and 'not far' from IPO, CEO says

TripActions CEO Ariel Cohen

TripActions

The boss of travel and expense management platform Navan told CNBC he’s preparing the company to get its business into shape for an eventual initial public offering this year, in another sign leaders of privately-held startups are getting more optimistic about their prospects in the public markets.

Asked about when Navan would choose to go public, the firm’s CEO and co-founder Ariel Cohen said the company is close to reaching that milestone. “We can see the signals,” he said, adding that Navan has been adjusting its leadership structure and making changes to its board in a signal of maturity.

Last month saw Navan announce the return of Rich Liu, formerly Navan’s chief revenue officer and “an expert on scaling companies from seed to IPO and beyond,” to the business as CEO of Navan Travel, the company’s travel division.

Amy Butte, the former chief financial officer of the New York Stock Exchange who oversaw the U.S. exchange operator’s transition to a public company in 2006, was also appointed to Navan’s board of directors as audit committee chair.

“I don’t want to give a date,” Cohen told CNBC, adding that he’s not even told his own family a date for when he expects Navan to go public — let alone his board and Navan employees. “At the end of the day, there are things that are out of my control.”

“The market can collapse. There are elections in the U.S. There are wars. So I never actually promise things to people if I don’t know that the delivery is in my control,” he added.

While Cohen wouldn’t commit to a date for Navan’s eventual IPO, he said the business was “not far” from being ready for a stock market listing. The company is on track to become cash-flow positive and achieve profitability for the first time this year, he said.

“The timing will need to include several things,” he said. “Today, in this market, to be public, you need to be profitable. We are not far from that, but we are not there. We’re going to be there this year. And it’s not easy to do it while you’re growing fast.”

Cohen said he’s also keeping a wary eye on the market — but added that although, previously, investors would have seen a company like his as dependent on buoyant market sentiment surrounding technology, today he sees the firm as “mature enough” to go public independent of the market backdrop.

Navan CEO Ariel Cohen talks partnering with Citi

Navan is now growing revenues by around 40% on average, according to Cohen, with the company’s fintech business seeing faster growth (100%) than its travel business (30%).

Founded in 2015 as TripActions, Navan began life as a travel management platform for businesses, seeking to provide a smoother experience to travel agents and incumbent players like American Express, BCD Travel, and SAP Concur. The company counts the likes of Unilever and Christie’s as clients.

The firm subsequently expanded into expensing and payments with solutions for automating linking credit cards to a single platform and automating expenses.

Navan is backed by major investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Coatue, Goldman Sachs, and Lightspeed. Navan has raised more than $1.5 billion in venture funding to date and was last valued at $9.2 billion. It competes with Spanish startup TravelPerk, which was most recently valued at $1.4 billion.

Navan introduced a big evolution of that product last year with the arrival of Navan Connect, a new expensing product.

Most corporate card startups, like Brex and Ramp, offer users their own branded corporate smart cards. But Navan’s Connect feature, which it’s rolled out in partnership with Citi, lets businesses offer automated expense management and reconciliation without having to change corporate card provider.

Like other tech firms, Navan has been making a big investment into artificial intelligence. The company rolled out its own AI personal assistant, called Ava, last year. The tool uses generative AI to help travelers, travel admins, and finance managers make travel plans and budget effectively.

Ava — which stands for automated virtual assistant — now processes around 150,000 monthly chats, more than 35% of which are managed to completion as of April 2024, according to Navan.

Cohen said Navan is planning to roll out an even more personalized version of Ava’s AI assistant, which can generate travel plans for someone based on their past behavior, to even greater accuracy in six months’ time.

Navan was named on the 2024 edition of CNBC’s Disruptor 50 list.

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Musk launches SpaceX’s Starlink internet services in Indonesia, says more investments could come

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Musk launches SpaceX’s Starlink internet services in Indonesia, says more investments could come

Tech billionaire Elon Musk (2nd L) speaks next to Indonesia’s Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin (L) during a ceremony held to inaugurate satellite unit Starlink at a community health center in Denpasar on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali on May 19, 2024. Musk launched on May 19 his Starlink service on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali as the country aims to extend internet to its remote areas. Millions of people in Indonesia, a vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, are not currently hooked up to reliable internet services. (Photo by SONNY TUMBELAKA / AFP) (Photo by SONNY TUMBELAKA/AFP via Getty Images)

Sonny Tumbelaka | Afp | Getty Images

Elon Musk has launched SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet services in Indonesia as the Southeast Asian nation seeks to boost internet connectivity in remote areas.

The inauguration took place at a community health center in Bali on Sunday, with the SpaceX founder telling local media he was “very excited” to bring internet services to areas with limited or no connectivity and that internet connectivity can be “a life-saver to remote medical clinics.”

“It is really important to emphasize the importance of internet connectivity and how much of a life-changer and a life-saver it can be,” Musk told local media on Sunday.

SpaceX, which manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft, is also a developer of Starlink satellites which provide internet connectivity to remote locations. Starlink is already available in Southeast Asia in Malaysia and the Philippines.

Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago with more than 17,000 islands, faces an urban-rural connectivity divide where millions of people living in rural areas have limited or no access to internet services.

Communication and Informatics Minister Budi Arie Setiadi previously said Starlink would help Indonesia extend internet access to regions not covered by local internet providers, according to Indonesian news agency Antara.

Elon Musk meets with China's Premier Li Qiang to discuss Tesla, full-self driving and restrictions

The minister also tried to dispel concerns that Starlink’s entry would hurt local internet providers.

“When you have access to the internet, you can learn anything,” said Musk, who is also the CEO of electric carmaker Tesla. “But if you don’t have internet connectivity, it is very difficult to learn.”

“And if you have goods and services you wish to sell to the world, and even if you are in a remote village, you can now do so with internet connection. So you can bring a lot of prosperity to [remote] communities,” said Musk.

When asked about whether he has plans to invest in Indonesia’s electric vehicle sector as well, Musk said he was focused on Starlink first.

“It’s very likely that my companies will invest in Indonesia,” said Musk.

Indonesia minister Luhut Pandjaitan said Musk is considering to set up an EV battery plant in the country, after the tech leader met with President Joko Widodo on Monday, according to Reuters.

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