Some embargo must have been lifted yesterday; around lunchtime my RSS feeds and YouTube queue were suddenly filled with reviews of Google’s new iPhone, like the video you see here from The Verge’s Dieter Bohn.
This morning’s plan was to post some links for your reading pleasure; unfortunately this longtime Nexus fan couldn’t resist the urge to throw in his own snarky comments along with them. Let’s start with Dieter, who says that the Pixel phones go “toe to toe” with the iPhone, and that the Pixel “doesn’t fall down”. This gets right to my fundamental problem with Pixel. It copies the iPhone so much, from its exorbitant price right down to the long-press actions on app icons, that it begs the question… Why wouldn’t someone just buy an iPhone instead?
I managed to find at least one big-time tech blogger that agrees with me, Gizmodo’s Michael Nunez—whose review is titled The Google Pixel is Too Dumb and Ugly to Replace Your iPhone. Here’s a quote from that review:
I couldn’t wait to try the Pixel. It’s different than other Android phones, because it’s the first handset centred around the company’s artificial intelligence; the same omnipotent intelligence that’s vacuuming up information about you every time you use a service like Gmail, Google Maps, or Google Calendar. The “Google brain” learns your habits over time, and can help you find important information faster. The problem is that Google’s AI is too stupid to be meaningfully helpful at this stage.
The knocks against Google’s Assistant are justified. I would go even further and say that anyone who tells you these digital assistants have artificial intelligence at all doesn’t understand what AI actually is. Get back to me when Google or Siri can pass the Turing Test.
But back to the burning question, why buy Google’s iPhone instead of the original? I was finally enlightened by a review from former Verge staffer David Pearce, now writing for WIRED:
I’ve always been an iPhone guy, honestly […] But I’m switching. For real. I’m turning off iMessage, re-buying apps, and warning friends that I probably won’t get their texts for a few days […] I’m totally in love with the Pixel. I love this camera, I love Google Assistant, I love that I’ll get to use it with a comfy VR headset, I love that I finally get a version of Android that is both powerful and attractive.
The immediate joke everyone, including me, made on Twitter after the Pixel launch was that Google made an iPhone. Well, that’s true. As it turns out, an iPhone running Android is exactly what I’ve been waiting for.
Okay, I’m starting to get it now… Google is addressing a market that’s already using its services on iOS, and already conditioned to paying a premium for hardware. Too bad these people will probably never try out a third-party launcher, or any of the other unique perks that Android offers.
And finally, on the lighter side, here’s a snippet from The New York Times review by Brian Chen:
The Pixel’s fingerprint sensor, for unlocking the phone, is annoyingly on the back of the device rather than on the face. So when you’re on the go, you will probably be using two hands — one to hold the phone and the other to place your fingerprint on the back — to unlock the Pixel.
How to put this gently… You’re a moron who should stop reviewing phones immediately and find some other line of work. Anyone who’s ever used a Nexus 6P or similar Huawei device knows that you unlock it with the index finger of the same hand holding the phone, stupid!