Business Boost | 31 October 2016 - by KCOM

Google Pixel: Revolutionary?

Or just another smartphone?

KCOM tech expert Henry Groom shares his views

“Dear Nexus,

We’ve had such amazing times together. Remember the time we took that photo of John falling over? Or when we accidently said “I love you” to my boss instead of my wife? Good times, eh! But even good times sometimes have to come to an end.

It’s not you, it’s me. Well, actually, it’s not me - it’s the new Google Pixel.”

Welcome to the 2016 Google Pixel smartphone.

Delivering brand new technology, a better camera, more speed and great looks, this truly is a premium phone.

Choosing a phone can be hard work sometimes, but Google’s taken inspiration from the simplicity Apple is known for to introduce a standard and an XL version.

What’s inside?

Replacing last year’s Nexus 5, the Pixel is rocking the new Android Nougat straight out of the box.

In case you’re not familiar with it, this operating system is the latest from Google with in-built Google Assistant, one of the most advanced AI-driven voice assistants. More of this later.

The phone is all about demonstrating what Google have to offer. Sleek glass and a tough metal-cased body house the latest in Snapdragon processors alongside vast memory: 4GB for the Pixel.

USB-C ensures one of the fastest charges I’ve ever experienced – an 80% charge in 30 minutes in my real world test. Impressive and practical, especially for people who are out and about all day 

The display is dramatically bright. With HD resolution and 441ppi, the image is crystal clear, and the deep colours and rich hues deliver a clarity that will work extremely when Daydream – a new VR platform for Android devices – becomes available in November.  It’s worth noting that this is the first device to be Daydream-ready – and I for one am very excited to see what developers do when they get their hands on it.

Strike a pose

The camera in the Pixel can hold its weight in a fight with the iPhone 7. Its 12MP f/2.0 rear and 8MP front camera is the highest-rated smartphone camera tested by experts DxO.

Low light photos are crisp and vibrant, while well-lit photos are colourful and distinct. As someone who uses an S7 Edge and an iPhone 7 Plus I’d say it lives up to the rating – although the iPhone 7 Plus just nudges ahead in the low light, the Pixel beats the S7 Edge hands down.

One slight issue with the Pixel is the lack of expandable memory. Google, like Apple, has steered clear of allowing users to expand using memory cards, so my advice is buy big: 128GB will store plenty of videos, music, and for the selfie-mad out there, thousands of photos. One trick Google does have up its sleeve is unlimited cloud storage for photos and videos. Never will you need to worry about backing up or losing photos again.

Buzz…Wendy, who’s my next call?

You used to have to be a CEO or MD to have a PA or assistant. I don’t have one (note to self, ask for a promotion) but the world is changing. Smartphone and application technologies are rapidly developing what 10 to 15 years ago we would called science fiction.

We’ve seen Siri, Apple’s answer to the personal assistant. We’ve seen Google Now, and even Cortana (see my recent review of Windows 10). Google has really upped its game, rebuilding its voice assistant platform to integrate not just with the hardware but also with the services and applications both on the phone and in the cloud. Accessible wherever you are and whenever you wish, Google Assistant is conversational, smart and extremely quick.

It’s based around Google’s latest in AI and has a much better voice recognition engine, resulting in something that actually delivers the experience I’ve expected from Siri or Cortana for many years but not had.

Asking simple questions is easy. Who is the Prime Minister? What was Usain Bolt’s 100m time in 2016? These all result in perfect answers, but Google Assistant has more to give.

For example, if you follow “What was Usain Bolt’s 100m time in 2016?” with “How tall is he?” other assistants will fail to answer the follow-up question as they fail to recognise its context. Google Assistant uses earlier last question to create context, just like you would a real conversation. It’s a much more immersive experience, and a much more useful one. Thank you Google.

Okay Google, how do I wrap up a blog post?

The Pixel is an amazing achievement for Google. Not only is it a robust, well-designed and speedy phone, it’s even VR-ready. Alongside the other contenders in the market it really stands out.

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