Tuesday, 10/4/16, Google announced some new hardware that, well, frankly, I want. But there are some very important things to notice about the phone they announced and how it impacts Google, and us.
If you want to see all the products they launched check it all out at madeby.google.com I, personally, am pretty excited for many of them.
The new Google phone is called the Pixel. This is the first time that Google has not released a new Nexus phone in years (six years, to be specific) and it is intentional. They are changing the way they produce and market these phones and I see it as a positive step for Google in the phone marketplace, but not necessarily one for us, the end users.
The Pixel is the first phone 100% built by Google
All their previous phones were built by third party manufacturers. LG, Huawei, Samsung, HTC, Asus, and Motorola all have built a Nexus phone or tablet and even though Google had a heavy hand on the design and specs of these devices, they did not have control over everything, especially in the beginning. And as the Nexus line has grown Google has grown in their understanding as well.
A Brief History of Android
When Google first purchased the Android operating system they wanted to build phone software that was open source. Anyone could use it and tweak it to their liking. This is why so many Android phones look and function so differently and why you can find hundreds of modified OS’s created by coders online that you can download and install on your phone if you know how. Each manufacturer can also tweak Android to their liking so the software works better for their hardware. They also have created their own ecosystems (looking at you, Samsung) that tie a person to Samsung but not necessarily to Google. This way we will go back to Samsung time and time again for our phones instead of being comfortable with any Android phone. Granted, they are a company and they want to keep their customers, so, I get it, I do.
This has positive and negative effects for Google and the Android team. We hear constantly about the fragmentation of Android (updates available for some phones but not others) because of how much these third-parties have tweaked Android. When an update is released by Google third parties have to tweak it to match their other tweaks. This can take months to do and, let’s face it, they have newer phones to worry about. It also pushes the Android team to better their own product as they see third parties adding functionality that was not available in the pure Android software.
Google has been fighting for years to maintain control over Android and create a streamlined operating system to battle fragmentation and their competitors Operating Systems but, for obvious reasons, manufacturers are against this. They want their personal tweaks to stay to benefit their company. As Android is open source anyone can use it for any device and only has to pay Google when they want that device to have access to the Google Play Store. Samsung has been wanting to move away from Android for a long time for this reason and if Samsung left Android… Google would take a hard hit. Can you name the latest phone from HTC? What about LG, Sony? Motorola? Asus? But I bet you can name the latest phone from Samsung.
So, Google had to do something to save Android’s future.
The new Pixel phone is the first phone that Google built the hardware and software all in-house. There is only one other company in the world that does this that anyone has ever heard of. Apple.
Even the look of the Pixel phone is meant to be a challenge to the look of the iPhone. This is very good news for Google and for us, as it means these phones will always work the best when it comes to running Android and Google apps and now Customer Service directly from Google is actually built directly into the phones.
There is something else these phones are copying from Apple, however, that does not bode well for Nexus owners – price.
This is NOT a Nexus
The Pixel phone starts at $649. There are two variants, a smaller and a larger, but this time around phone size is the only difference. They are built with the exact same hardware in every other regard. The price climbs when you go with the larger screen, or the larger storage capacity, etc. You can see all the price options on Google’s product page.
So, if you want Google’s iPhone, as I do, I have no doubt you will get a great phone. They have put years of time and energy coming to this point to offer a true iPhone competitor that can save Android and, if anyone can compete with a new phone model on the front line, Google can. But those of us that have been used to solid phones at a great price that would receive the latest versions and security updates, those days are gone.
What do you think about Google’s move to provide a phone that can directly compete with the iPhone as well as Samsung?
Featured image from Google’s Blog on the new Pixel