Pull quote: Modern phones offer features such as augmented reality and artificial intelligence-based services that require close integration of software and hardware Hong Kong/San Francisco — Google officially closed its $1.1bn deal with HTC, adding more than 2,000 smartphone specialists in Taiwan to help the search giant chase Apple in the cut-throat premium handset market. The deal will help Google design more of its own consumer hardware and could set it up to wade deeper into special-purpose chips — such as Apple. Google’s most recent Pixel model came with a new image processor to improve the device’s camera. More of this "custom silicon" will come in the future, Google’s hardware chief Rick Osterloh said in an interview. Osterloh brought in HTC engineers and designers to help Google control more of the design and production of its products, including working more closely with suppliers. Google previously focused on software and let manufacturers, including Samsung Electronics a...

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