Are you ready for the Google Pixel? It’s not the first time Google marketing pixies have settled on the name Pixel (the moniker has been previously used for more than one consumer hardware product from the company).
But THIS Pixel is Google’s promise that it can bring both hardware and software together in a new smartphone that — according to the company’s announcement Tuesday — “pushes the boundaries of what’s possible with a smartphone.”
Pixel is outfitted with the latest Android operating system, Android 7.1 Nougat. Phones will get software and security updates as soon as they’re available, directly from Google.
Google is proud of Pixel’s technical design, which features rounded edges to make it easy to grip, 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 4 on the front display and back glass “to accent the aerospace grade aluminum body,” and a Pixel Imprint (a fingerprint sensor) on the back. There’s also a promised lightning fast battery charge — up to seven hours of charge in 15 minutes.
Pixel will be offered in two sizes, 5-inch or 5.5-inch, and three colors: Very Silver, Quite Black, and a limited edition U.S. only hue called Really Blue.
Time will tell if Google’s hardware choices trump those of other smartphones on the market, especially the iPhone line-up.
What really distinguishes this product launch is the built-in software, including Google Assistant.
“Pixel is the first phone with the Google Assistant built in,” explained Google’s release. “With your Assistant, you can have a natural conversation with Google to find answers or get things done on the go. Say ‘Ok Google’ or touch and hold the Home button and your Assistant is ready to help. Ask it for a brief update on your day or to play a video on YouTube. Look up traffic on the way home from work or when the nearest pharmacy closes. You can even say “show me my camping photos with Andrew” and it’ll instantly display the photos you’re looking for. Your Assistant can also offer help with what’s on-screen in any app. So if your friend texts you to meet up at a new restaurant, you can just say “navigate there.”
Google is also extolling the Pixel’s camera.
“The Pixel camera is not only the best smartphone camera we’ve ever made, it’s the highest rated smartphone camera anyone has ever made. Pixel puts cutting-edge computational photography in an ultra-fast and easy-to-use camera. The 12.3MP camera has an f/2.0 aperture and big 1.55 micron pixels to capture lots and lots of light.”
Pixel owners will benefit from free unlimited storage for original quality photos and videos at full resolution in Google Photos.
Frankly, if Pixel lives up to its advance billing (pre-order has started at $649 in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Germany, and Australia), it will be doing a lot of work for users — like handling new updates that download and install in the background.
Pixel will also know everything you search for, will be able to recognize your friends from photos on your phone, and is designed to accommodate anticipated “smart home” integrations. If you suddenly have an urge to hear “Rainy Night in Georgia,” Pixel will play it without skipping a beat (or a search, thanks to your new assistant). It will hail an Uber and book you a table at your favorite restaurant on command. In other words, it’s the smartphone equivalent of “one world government,” brought to you by Google.
Don’t let the cute name fool you. Pixel looks kind of like an Attila — and could affect history (at least the history of smartphones) just as much.