People often joke that I have my head in the clouds because of my obsession with cloud services. Google, although a leader in the AI world and kings of indexing the digital world, is a fragmented mess.
Today they introduced the
iPhone Pixel and Pixel XL. They are good looking well designed phones made in house under the lead of ex Motorola chief Rick Osterloh. However, these phones indicate a huge turn in the approach to Android from Google.
In an article in Liliputing, by Brad Linder he points out that Nexus devices are a thing of the past and when they go down the long eventual path to Android 7.1 they will be missing “exclusive features” reserved for the Pixel.
The Pixel phone will be the only phone to use the new Pixel Launcher, at least for now. It includes a new home screen and app launcher: the app drawer icon is gone. Instead, you swipe up from the bottom of the screen to see all your apps. And instead of a Google Search bar, there’s a G icon at the top of the screen that can expand to let you interact with the Google app from the home screen.
Press and hold the home button or say “OK Google,” and you can start interacting with the Google Assistant — which is also available exclusively on the Pixel phones for now.
It’s likely that Google Assistant will soon be available on other Android devices, but Google currently has no plans to offer the Pixel Launcher for other phones or tablets. That could change in the future though.
It troubles me even more that the Pixel is launching with Android 7.1 and the latest Nexus device owners need to wait until the end of the year to get a developer preview for the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, and Pixel C. A preview, kind of disappointing.
Now, lets look at the coolest (and in my opinion most important feature) auto updates. The latest Nexus users need not apply.
While the benefits of seamless updates’ usage of dual system partitions to allow updates to the OS proceed in the background are substantial, they’re also a bit of a technical bear to put on existing smartphones. Implementing seamless updates on the Nexus 5X or 6P, for example, would require repartitioning the entire phone, and wouldn’t be possible for an end user to complete without hooking the phone up to a computer, allegedly – it would just be a pain, in short. While references to seamless updates have been found in the latest N developer preview, it was confirmed to us that these have no bearing on existing devices getting seamless updates.
I’m sorry, when I need a chart to know what even Googles “best of breed” phones can and can’t do and even one year after a release there are fragmentations in the basic availability of an OS.
Just look at how long the OTA update roll outs take – even in Nexus devices.
OTAs intentionally start very slowly, both in terms of numbers and in terms of timing. The goal is to try to identify catastrophic failures that wouldn’t have been found in testing. Those things can happen, unfortunately. From the point where a phase of the OTA is sent out, it takes at least 2 days to collect enough information to make a decision about the next phase.
Phase by phase, the OTA gets exponentially deployed to more and more people, up to a point where enough people are running it to be able to extrapolate even rare issues to the entire population, at which point the flow gets much faster.
The point of going phase by phase is explicitly to be able to stop the process in case something goes wrong, and that’s why there can’t even be an ETA.
Even if you want to switch from iOS to Android, you will need a hardware cable that, you guessed it, will only work on the Pixel. Only Pixel phones will ship with the new, “quick switch” adapter.
I’m sorry – I can no longer be a part of it. I’m sure this will create controversy and this is my opinion and my opinion alone but not knowing what Google will do one year to the next is too much for me.