With the Pixel 2, Google’s message is evident: For the perfect Android expertise, come to us.
Name it the Google stamp of approval. The place the Nexus telephones had been born of partnerships with the likes of HTC, Huawei, and LG, Google’s title was purposefully absent. They had been “pure” Android telephones. Despite the fact that the Pixel 2 and a pair of XL are manufactured by HTC and LG, respectively, the ‘G’ brand on the again is there to remind us that it’s Google by and thru. As Mario Queiroz recalled on the October four occasion: “We got down to design a cellphone ourselves as a result of we believed we might make the smartphone expertise higher.” Merely put, the Pixel telephones are about Google first, Android second.
When Google launched the unique Pixel, it loaded it with options no different telephones had: Google Assistant, Daydream help, a killer digital camera expertise, years of updates. It might take months for the perfect options to trickle all the way down to the remainder of the Android universe, providing however a small style of what it’s like to make use of Google’s imaginative and prescient for what Android needs to be.
A 12 months later, Google’s doubling down on all of it.
The very best of Google built-in
On the floor, Google remains to be taking part in good with its greatest Android companions. There’s a promise from Google that Samsung, HTC, LG, and others will launch an Android eight Oreo replace earlier than the top of this 12 months, not subsequent. Then there’s Project Treble, which goals to take a lot of the heavy lifting away from future Android updates.
Google’s message with the Pixel 2, although, is that you are able to do higher. Google is not content material to take a seat on the sidelines whereas producers promote tens of millions of telephones based mostly on bastardized variations of its Android imaginative and prescient. Its billion-dollar purchase of HTC’s smartphone workforce proves that time. It is principally saying, “You will get a watered-down Android expertise with the Notice eight or the V30. Or you may get the perfect end-to-end resolution from us.”
Google additionally makes a delicate distinction, the place its concept of ‘the perfect’ focuses extra on the software program than the . Even earlier than Google confirmed off a single machine yesterday, it braced us for a harsh actuality: Nothing you see can be revolutionary. “The taking part in area for parts is leveling off,” Google’s Rick Osterloh mentioned.
Osterloh continued with a thinly veiled reference to Samsung and Apple’s ongoing, tit-for-tat battle for greatest flagship cellphone. “I don’t envy these of you who’ve to put in writing opinions for a bunch of smartphones with very comparable specs…. Core options are desk stakes now.” Osterloh has a degree: The Notice eight is well the perfect cellphone Samsung has ever made and arguably among the best smartphones ever, however its software program remains to be its weakest hyperlink.
Android as meant
The Pixel 2 gained’t flip heads just like the Galaxy S8 or iPhone X, but it surely could be the perfect Android cellphone ever made. Not simply Android at its purest, like Nexus telephones represented, however the model of Android you’ll be able to’t get wherever else. Nobody is shopping for a Galaxy cellphone for the Samsung Expertise, however Google thinks folks will select the Pixel for what it brings to Android. And this 12 months, it’s within the type of apps and options, not UI tweaks.
In actual fact, the Pixel 2 doesn’t technically run a brand new model of Android Oreo in any respect. However evaluate it to the model operating on a Nexus 6P, and the variations are clear. The Launcher has been tweaked to place the search bar in a logical place and highlight upcoming occasions. There’s an unique preview of Google Lens. A squeeze-to-launch-Assistant gesture. And it has a neat digital camera app trick that simulates bokeh with only a single lens.
Thoughts you, none of these items are groundbreaking. Different producers have executed background blurring with out the usage of a second digital camera. Widgets allow you to put your calendar entries on your property display screen. Bixby Imaginative and prescient makes use of the digital camera for figuring out books, wine, and buildings. However none of these options are as effectively built-in as Android is on the Pixel. Samsung could have constructed a Bixby button into the 2017 Galaxy telephones, however I assure extra folks can be squeezing their Pixel telephones to launch Assistant. It’s Android as Google meant: totally built-in with Google providers in a seamless, fluid method.
The final word updater
The very best characteristic of the Pixel didn’t even get a point out on the stage yesterday. In line with the tech specs for the Pixel 2, the telephones are assured to get three years of OS updates, a soar from the earlier Pixel’s two-year promise. Which means when Android Rolo or Ring-Dings launches in 2020, right now’s Pixels will have the ability to set up it on day one.
Three years of Android OS updates is an enormous deal—an iOS stage of dedication that no different Android cellphone gives. You possibly can spend $800+ on an Android cellphone from every other producer and also you’re solely actually sure to get one main replace. Even a near-stock cellphone like Important nonetheless hasn’t pushed out an Oreo replace greater than a month after its public launch. The Pixel 2 is the primary Android cellphone that obsoletes obsolescence.
Sooner or later over the following 12 months, Google Lens will land within the Play Retailer, and the Pixel 2 launcher will seem within the Play Retailer. Possibly Google will even add portrait mode to the Google Digicam. However the expertise nonetheless gained’t be the identical as utilizing a Pixel 2. Maybe it will pressure different producers to remain nearer to inventory Android to remain related. No quantity of Pixel strain is ever going to rein in Samsung, however possibly it’ll spur them to ship timelier and longer updates.
If Google had been launching Android right now, I’ve little doubt that it will be a Pixel-only OS. Google has slowly been reining in Android’s openness, and in some ways, the Pixel 2 is the final word fork, one which separates the unique from the imitators. If it really works, Android as we all know it might by no means be the identical.