Google’s First Ever Phone, Is It Worth It? (Pixel XL Video Review)
Android 7.1 Nougat
Now, because this is an Android phone directly from Google it is running plain, vanilla Android. Which, if you know me at all, I always prefer. On top of that, this is the latest version of Android, called Nougat or 7.1 and it brings some minor changes to Android along with it.
The app launcher, which is normally an icon you tap in Android, is now a dock of five icons that can be swiped up on (anywhere, by the way, which is actually a nice large target when holding the phone with one hand), to reveal the app drawer. Also, Google now has its Google search bar replaced with a G icon you can tap to get to Google Search or swipe over to get to Google Now and your cards.
Aesthetically, icons are now circular and folders have this look of being peepholes ripped in the background which I like and there is now a native multi-window feature that allows you to put two apps on the screen at once which we’ve seen on other Android devices, just added by the manufacturer instead of baked into Android. I personally never use this as it’s faster, maybe more natural from habit, to just tap the multitasking icon and jump between them anyway.
One of the most talked about software features and what is essentially why Google says they decided to design their own hardware is their new AI called Google Assistant.
Google Now, Google’s voice assisted software, has been around on Android devices for some time now and it’s hard, at least at this point, to really tell what the huge difference is between it and the newly christened Google Assistant. There are some easily apparent things, the fact it can be summoned when the screen is off and not plugged in, the speed of it is improved, it’s more conversational in it’s tone with things like jokes, poems, and a more realistic timbre and tone to it.
Now, the idea being that over time it will use its inherent AI and machine learning abilities to remember past conversations, learn about you, and be able to do a lot more as well but frankly, I find it’s not quite reached the potential that I know it will eventually.
Yes, it can use context of previous questions, i.e. asking “if the Cubs are playing” then immediately asking “who their pitcher is” will give you the pitcher of the cubs compared to asking Siri the same set of questions will give just confuse it since it doesn’t know who “their” is referring to. But I expected it to be able to do things like remind me to call someone when I got home, and other things I imagine a real personal assistant could do and it seems to not be able to do those things –even though, I’m sure that’s coming.
The truth is it probably needs a few updates and will get them as more people are using it and then this is really going to come into it’s own, I imagine is when Google Home is release and you are able to dictate to the assistant to turn on the lights when you get home, since it’ll have your location from the phone and home controls via the Google Home and various hubs. More on all of that though, when my Google Home finally arrives.
In the meantime, it’s definitely on par with Siri if not a bit ahead in a lot of aspects so not a big issue, but just not breakthrough feature. At least not yet.