You may remember my recent article, stating all the reasons why I’d had enough of Android, and Why I’m Switching To iPhone.
But since then, things have changed. Big time.
You may think, “but they just put out an article about how they’re switching, and now they’re switching back?!”
“Why?????” you may ask?
Let’s Dive Into It
To begin, most of quandaries with Android were of the issue with the lack of hardware/software integration, leading every Android device to be slightly (or majorly) off from what the Android experience was intended to be. Even Motorola’s later “Moto” devices. In short, each device from a different manufacturer would work with Android, but it would never be Google’s vision, so Android would just never function just as intended, and the hardware would suffer from that, as well, leading to a need for more powerful hardware to offset the inefficiencies created by the lack of optimization.
If you read back to the article, I state, “Unless you buy a … Google Nexus phone (the reference model … for Android), you can be sure the OS you’re running on won’t be fully optimized for your device.”
So I did acknowledge that Google did somewhat accomplish hardware/software integration with the Nexus line of phones. The Nexus phones would always have great cameras and the fastest processors available at the time, and most importantly, run a vanilla version of Android, so you would know the OS was running it as intended.
However, the problem has always been that the Nexus phones (up until last year) have always been hard to get, and aimed at software developers rather than consumers. Additionally, since Google bargained with other manufacturers such as LG, HTC, and Motorola to create the phones, it was never 100% Google’s design, and had some of the other manufacturer’s ideas forced upon it. Also, I was never fond of the design, as I always thought Motorola’s phone offered some useful features and overall design that were just a step ahead the Nexus line.
But today that changes.
Fast forward to October 4, 2016. Google has a new event with a new focus, #madebygoogle.
Google holds an amazing event with great products, including the Pixel phone. But what’s even better than the content shown there? Google’s new focus on all-encompassing design, interactivity between products, and best of all (for phones), hardware-software integration!
While, as stated, Google is “not new to hardware,” it is definitely new to this game. And it’s going to kill it.
The Pixel phone is the first phone fully designed, from top to bottom, inside and out, by Google, and for Android. And for the first time, Google is making their own phone to compete directly with the iPhone. And it is marvelous.
Google is finally taking a stance with Android, and saying, “enough is enough”. Google’s new Pixel phone, like Apple’s iPhone, is the first phone completely designed and optimized for Android, and likewise, Google has optimized and improved Android specifically for the Pixel. Not only has it equipped the phone with a best-in-class camera (even topping out the iPhone 7), a headphone jack, and the speediest processor, but it has engineered all of Android to work specifically for its hardware, and vice-versa.
In regards to its optimization, it’s not just another phone running Android. Google has actually optimized every aspect of the phone to work best with its vision of Android. Besides incorporating the speediest processor yet available in an Android phone, the Snapdragon 821, it has also optimized the touch response of the phone, leading to much less latency between touching the screen and getting a response. Additionally, it has improved the overall speed of the phone and the camera, finally bringing it on par with feeling as good as an iPhone.
Aside from this, users also get the benefit of actually being able to upgrade the phone’s software as soon as an update is available, directly from Google. This has been a feature of previous Nexus phones for a while, but now it’s even better, because updates will download and install in the background, and automatically and quickly be applied the next time you reboot your phone. This is even better than Apple’s iPhone update experience, which will still leave you updating the traditional way, getting in the way of the tasks you’re doing, and taking a lot longer.
On specs, this phone also beats out the iPhone 7, which is nice to have. While the phone appears to lack stereo speakers, it does have a headphone jack built-in. And the camera is even better than the iPhone 7’s, something incredible to say. Did I mention it also comes with unlimited Google Photos storage at original resolution?! Additionally, the phone has a higher-res screen than the iPhone’s, so you can watch content at higher-resolutions. And that screen is better too. Unlike the iPhone’s more-colorful-than-before-but-still-not-so-colorful screen, the Pixel’s screen offers AMOLED, with many times the contrast and colors of the iPhone’s screen. The screen is great on its own, but highly necessary for the phone’s last great innovation: Daydream VR.
The last major thing this phone has going for it is Google’s new VR platform, Daydream VR. The Pixel phone will be the first Daydream Ready phone, the first phone to support the new platform created by Google. In short, Daydream VR is Google’s own VR platform for phones, like Samsung’s Gear VR, except better. Not only will the Daydream platform support Google’s own Pixel phone, but it will support many phones in the future from different manufacturers, allowing the cheapest and highest-quality access to virtual reality to the masses for the first time. Playstation VR is a good starting point (especially for gamers), but Daydream VR will finally be the lowest barrier-to-entry for VR ever seen for consumers, finally allowing VR to come to the masses in meaningful ways. So long as they buy the right phone, and the very affordable $69 Daydream View headset, or one like it.
Daydream VR offers an amazing ecosystem of content, such as YouTube’s full library, which shines in VR with 360 degree videos in which you can look around wearing the headset to see the video all around you. You are transported to that world. Additionally, it is working with many other content providers, including Netflix, Hulu, The New York Times, and many others, to allow you to experience a broad range of content in full, high quality, immersion. That’s not to mention the games coming to the platform too (like games from the makers of EVE and from the mind of J.K. Rowling), as well as the educational and practical apps that are being made available for it, like Star Chart and Relax VR. And you can also, for example, view your Google Photos library in VR. And that’s pretty cool.
This was, to be honest, the swinging point for me. Apple does not have VR on its devices, and appears to have no intention of incorporating it either. If you think about it, Apple has been very stubborn about incorporating new technologies, while companies like Google have been embracing them, and actually making them useful for people in their everyday lives. While it’s expected that Apple will incorporate, better, OLED screens for its next iPhone, and a wall-to-wall screen, if it ever incorporates VR, at the earliest, it will be a year from now.
Oh and one more thing. Google has a better assistant, too. Google Assistant is the new and improved version of Google Now. In short, Google Assistant is even smarter now, and integrates all across the entire OS now, including its Allo and Duo messaging and video apps. You can have a conversation with it anytime, and it can help you out nearly any way you want now. Compared with Siri, Google Assistant is much, much, better, and integrates itself across the OS and its services better than Siri ever could on iPhone.
And guess what? Google Assistant is only available on the Pixel. As very justly stated here, Google is finally offering its own real, unique features for its first fully-designed phone, and other Android manufacturers should be very, very, nervous. Apple should be too.
With the arrival of the Pixel phone, Google is finally matching Apple at the hardware game, achieving the true mastery of hardware-software integration. And it looks like Google is coming out ahead.
Google is finally like Apple in recognizing the importance and benefit of true hardware-software integration. And with the Pixel, it is finally coming out ahead.
Due to all of these reasons, I decided to cancel my iPhone 7 Plus order, and instead order the Pixel XL.
Sure, I won’t be getting a myriad of accessories already available for it, or stereo speakers. I won’t be getting Super Mario Run first, or some of the software apps only available on iPhone.
But what I will get is the best of Android, the best of Google, and Google’s new Daydream VR, including its headset, for free. I’ll also be getting a headphone jack, a much quicker charging experience, a better screen, and a better camera.
More importantly, I’m finally getting the OS I’ve always known and loved, as it was intended. And some delightful extras, as well. With Pixel, I’ll be getting the phone of the future, not the phone of the past.
With Pixel, I’m back with Android, and I am very happy for it.
To see Pixel and Daydream VR for yourself, watch Google’s full conference:
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-Noah Sanchez, Gamer Splash