Thursday, December 01, 2016

Google Pixel

Over the last few extended weeks of my birthday celebration, I managed to get 3 gifts that are from the current Google lineup. I wanted to share some brief thoughts on them. Today is the main one, my new Google Pixel phone.

I have been an Android user since the first Google phone the G1. Along the way I have repeatedly updated my phones as the newer version have come to market. In many cases I have had a later model iPhone as well as a testing phone for the various companies I have been at over the years. While I know many of my friends love iPhones, my favoring of Android has never let up.

Over the last 6 years I have exclusively owned Google Nexus phones. While I know a number of people who enjoy the Samsung and other variants of Android devices, I have always preferred the stripped down software on Nexus devices and I have enjoyed having early access to the latest flavors of Android.

My most recent phone until the Pixel has been the Nexus 6. I recall at the time it came out I was very disappointed that I only had one option to buy a gigantic phone. Over the two years I used it I definitely became comfortable with the size and all in all it was a pretty outstanding phone.

The Pixel for me is a move back to a smaller device which I am generally excited about. I think I could have easily gone with the Pixel XL as well but it was nice to switch back to a smaller device.

There are a number of great sites that have comprehensive reviews of the Pixel so I am not going to try to cover much but instead wanted to highlight a couple areas that are either very interesting or very disappointing. Before I do that I have to say that I really love this new phone so any issues are generally minor.

The Bad...

GPS - My GPS has something crazy going on. When using Maps or Waze, the Pixel occasionally looses precise location tracking. This has resulted in some annoying freeway announcements from my phone as well as literally getting lost in a residential neighborhood while trying to pick up a kid from a friends house. I have contacted customer support and sometime in the next few days will try to take the steps that will fix it. Unfortunately I don't think the steps will work but we will see.

Speaker - The speaker on this phone is just bad. I cringe at the thought of using this phone for conference calls in speaker phone which was something that was stellar on the Nexus 6. I am dumbfounded on why you would go cheap on a premium phone in the speaker department.

USB C - Guess all my old chargers are obsolete now. The upside though is that the charging time is amazing.

The Good...

Software - Clean new Android software with lots of good bells and whistles.

Camera - Probably the best camera I have had on a phone.

Speed - Everything is lightning fast.

The Awesome...

Google Assistant - While this is not where it needs to be is light years ahead of Siri and is a big improvement on the Google Voice / Google Now services that I have grown to love on the Nexus 6. Google will be granting API access of some sorts for Assistant in the coming month and I am sure that there will be some great development in that arena. I especially like the way Assistant interacts with the Google Home device. I will chat more about that next.

Google Daydream - Wow. That like the Google Home will be it's own topic but suffice to say it has been the first wow moment I have experienced with virtual reality.

Back soon with comments on Google Home and Google Daydream.

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