On Tuesday October 9, 2018, Google showcased a variety of updated services and hardware offerings to the delight of many Google fans. We knew all about the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, in all of it’s “notchy” embarrassment, thanks to a variety of leaks, although Google teased as if we didn’t. Overall, the keynote was lacking due to the leaks and due to several technical miscues throughout.
In the keynote we learned more about Google’s future for home, portable computing and services all through it’s products. A future that is interesting, fun and oftentimes confusing, but with Google at the helm, it won’t be boring.
Google Home Hub
Every smarthome needs a centerpiece and Google Home Hub plans to be just that. Over the course of the keynote, this proved to be one of the most well-thought out, polished pieces of the day. From showing you recipe tutorials on YouTube, to weather and driving conditions and photos from your most recent trip — this device is designed in such a way that brings it all together and is excellent if you already have a variety of smart devices. In addition to the Home Hub, the Google Home app received a significant update that mirrors what HomeView on the Hub screen, putting all of your connected devices first. This is the way that it should be and the way that it should’ve been.
Updated Google Home app, iOS.
The Google Home Hub is meant to be that home device that blends in with the rest of your home and buy offering different color options like Google Home, Home Mini and Max devices, it accomplishes that easily. Interacting with Google Assistant on any of the Google Home devices is very simple and straightforward although during the keynote, that was muddied my interactions that had bad timing because they were prerecorded.
Featuring a 7″ display, the Home Hub is perfect for an office or a kitchen device; however, it can also go safely into a bedroom since there is no camera on the device — unlike the Amazon Echo Show. This large and bright display is how you will interact with Hub and discover new things it can do. Coming in at $149 and available on October 22nd, this little guy is bound to shake things up.
Source: YouTube, The Verge.
Is it a tablet? Is it a computer?
The introduction of Pixel Slate started on a high note, with a stone thrown at it’s competitors Apple and Microsoft with the statement, “..something that isn’t a laptop trying to be a tablet…or a tablet, that’s really a phone, pretending to be a computer“.
It’s Pixel Slate and it’s neither. Yet, it is a combination of both depending on how you utilize it. A tablet is nothing more than a different type of a personal computer, just like your smartphone, laptop or gaming PC.
Pixel Slate is an interesting device. Starting at $599 you get a tablet-esque device featuring a re-imagined “molecular” 12.3″ display featuring 293 PPI, Intel inside starting at the Celeron and fully equipped with an i7.
This device is the spiritual successor to Google’s Pixelbook and ultimately Google’s long game in the space and puts itself in a direct fight between Apple’s iPad and Microsoft’s Surface. Chromebooks are ubiquitous in the classroom and with those who are entrenched in Google’s ecosystem for all of the right reasons. Most computing today is done through the browser, whether you utilize Google Chrome, Edge, Firefox or something else — you’re still in browser. One of the reasons why Chrome, Firefox and others have such a large userbase is due to the many add ons and “apps” that can be accessed through the window of a browser.
Nowadays, Google has been pumping Chrome OS to be much more than just a browser, to having Android app support and support for some Linux applications, the gap between a Chrome OS device and traditional desktop operating system is blurring more and more and the Pixel Slate seems to be a solid device the enter that “gap” with. Pairing this device with the optional Pixel Slate Keyboard transforms this from tablet to that traditional laptop feel; however, Google did something different with it’s keyboard, allowing the user to have many different positions to the screen unlike the iPad Pro keyboard, mimicking a majority of the angles that a Microsoft Surface can reach.
Source: YouTube, The Verge
This is the future of mobile computing through Google’s Chrome OS and with this operating system becoming more open to other platforms, this increased interoperability is making it a more viable solution as most are simply in the business of content consumption rather than creation.
It was noted that Pixel 3 was “built with exceptionally beautiful and design choices”, which is the biggest fable of the entire keynote. While the Pixel 3 may be of good design, no person will agree with anyone on that stage that the Pixel 3 XL is a beautiful device. This is absolutely one of the most tasteless and awful design decisions in all of smartphones with the largest and most obtrusive notch on any device.
Don’t believe me? See for yourself. It’s laughably bad and as I noted on #150 of the In the Weeds podcast, it looks like hot garbage.
Pixel 3 XL close-up of the the display notch.
Aside from the addition of a notch, that no one asked for, there are several small additions to the Pixel 3 that push it slightly over it’s older sibling Pixel 2.
The design of the device was completely re-engineered by giving it an all glass back with custom milling to make the lower portion soft-touch, making it almost indistinguishable from the Pixel 2 and an additional second camera on the front, which extends the camera angle 184 degrees. Camera upgrades don’t stop on the front as Google builds in a new feature called Top Shot, which utilizes frames before and after the shutter is pressed giving the user the opportunity to select the “top” frame as the still image.
Additionally, Google takes advantage of the best digital assistant in the business with it’s new Screen Call feature, which allows you to interact with a potential spam caller utilizing Google Assistant so that you don’t have to in an interactive exchange and potentially even mark the call as spam. Lastly, with your shiny new Pixel 3 in hand, you need a charging stand to take advantage of the newly added wireless charging. Meet Pixel Stand, which charges your device wirelessly, but also gives you an overview of your home, recent photos and more. While this stand may not charge multiple devices at once — it is actually going to ship unlike Apple’s Air Power. Pixel 3 starts at $799, with its large sibling at $899, up from last year and available on October 19th.
Source: YouTube, Made by Google
Here, the device you like the most comes to personal preference. The notch is such a horrible design trend that doesn’t give the consumer any additional benefit, but allows the OEM the ability to tout “edge to edge” display while developers cannot utilize all of the space thanks to rounded corners and other elements of the display that need to be shown — this space that can be used is typically called a “safe area”, coined initially by Apple, read more here.
Google’s devices aren’t usually meant to be big mainstream hits, Google Home and Assistant are the exceptions, while Pixel devices are usually for the enthusiast with the aim of pushing either a platform, software solution or ideal forward. The Made by Google event of 2018 was hit and miss, as presenters seemed spaced out and presentations early on were marred by off cue interactions. With all of that aside, the future looks bright, we just have to hope that Google, who frequently changes it’s mind in the direction department, actually stays true to the course and continues pushing the ideals they’ve displayed ahead.