Updated October 1: Article originally published September 30.
Google A new range of Pixel smartphones and peripherals will launch this week. The Pixel 8 Pro is expected to set an impressive mark for the Pixel brand and the wider Android smartphone market. Yes, Google wants the phone to sell, but there’s more to these phones than just market share.
It all starts with making the proverbial “cool smartphone,” because without that, no one would give Google the time of day.
Update: Sunday, October 1: In the lead-up to the launch on Wednesday, more details about the devices will be revealed, with a series of promotional videos for the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. Leaked by the respected @MysteryLupin.
The videos are targeted to the audience, demonstrating the ease of switching to pixels. The number covers specific topics, but the main video highlights the features Google wants consumers to focus on.
It opens by showing how easy it is to change to pixels; Navigation between texts, messages, contacts, music, and videos is displayed with the slogan “Switch, don’t start over.”
After the “Your data is safe” section comes the pudding, as Google shows off a wide range of camera features, including several AI-based editing tools. This includes the existing Magic Eraser tool to remove unwanted parts of an image, the visual reproduction of Real Tone, and the new Best Take tool that allows a composite photo to be stitched together to swap faces for a better shot.
And it’s all called out with a specific reference to Google AI. Mountain View has a message urging them to go beyond just “buy these phones.”
The Pixel line has gone through several design iterations, with the current devices being derived from the Pixel 6. However, the real change has been Google’s shift away from the diverse Qualcomm Snapdragon system on chips to its own design. The Tensor chipset is designed away from explicit performance and toward supporting computational procedures—particularly for artificial intelligence and machine learning—to be performed on the device rather than moved to the cloud.
There are only a few system-on-chip companies in the ecosystem. With Tensor, Google indicates where it thinks development should happen. With the launch of the Tensor G3 inside the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, and Google expected to move more towards using AI and machine learning in software and demonstrating its benefits to the consumer, these companies are expected to offer silicon that can deliver similar experiences.
Then there is Android. The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro will be the first phones to launch with Android 14 out of the box; Other manufacturers will follow shortly, likely when version 14 of the Android Open Source Project is fully released after a number of delays over the past few months.
Android 14 has two main points to pay attention to. The first is Google’s decision to extend the support period by seven years. That’s seven years of Android OS updates and security fixes to keep devices safe. The latter is one of the crucial factors in determining a phone’s lifespan – devices can last for decades, but without security, there is little practical use.
With consumers thinking about how long a phone will be useful to them, the Pixel’s seven-year window will be a crowd-pleaser. Google hopes that other manufacturers will take notice of the long-term vision and expand support windows.
The second option is perhaps more nuanced, and is about offering consumers consistency while maintaining flexibility. Over the years, Google has rolled out its different versions of “Material UI” across its devices and on the Android operating system. Depending on how much customization manufacturers add to their flavors of Android, this could be seen in other phones or removed entirely.
The feeling that something is Android still persists, even as manufacturers retain their individuality.
Where Google wants to find more common ground is in third-party apps. If apps work consistently, they become easier to use in the first place, integrate better into any phone, and feel more convenient and rewarding to use. Fine points like sharing style sheet options that allow developers to customize options in a standard window will be seen throughout the Pixel phones.
Using hardware to improve artificial intelligence and machine learning; Consistent approach across first- and second-party apps from Google and individual manufacturers; And a long window of support and security updates. The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro will be viewed as consumer-focused devices, but the long-term value is in fleshing out Google’s vision for moving across the Android ecosystem.
Now read the latest smartphone headlines in Forbes’ weekly Android news digest…
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