4 hidden takeaways from Google’s Pixel 6 preview

Well, gang, looks like the brightly colored cat came out of the metaphorical bag.

You know what I’m talking about, right? The feline in question is none other than Google’s Pixel 6 phone – two of them, in fact. Google pulled off their new favorite trick and let air escape the rapidly leaking balloon into announces its Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro months before the actual debut of the devices. Take that, the interweb rumors!

And these new Pixels are also quite different from the past Pixels. As expected, these are the first Google-made phones to feature a Google-made processor – a distinction we’ve been talking about for some time now, and one that could greatly separate phones from the rest of the Android pack. Google has a carefully orchestrated campaign through many websites to show some of the practical benefits that the new setup will allow, so I won’t waste your time rehashing what you’ve already read.

Here I want to focus on four underestimated Pixel 6’s preview effects – a combination of between-line suggestions and flippant remarks that draw far less attention than the shiny outer shells and homemade innards of the Pixels.

Join me on a quick trip to the heart of the Pixel 6 and what these latest revelations tell us about Google’s larger plans, right?

Pixel Take Away # 1: The Software Support Revamp

This first Pixel on the go is one that I haven’t seen coming at all, straight away, as part of the current Pixel 6 blitz – but it’s arguably the biggest effect of Google’s switch to a homemade processor. .

If you’ve been following here for a while, you probably know where I’m going (and you can go ahead and get yourself a well-earned crumpet as a reward): By having its own custom chip inside the Pixel, Google will be able to support these phones with software updates for much longer than is currently possible on Android.

This was one of the first potential benefits of a Google-made processor that we talked about when the possibility first surfaced, and while Google hasn’t announced anything official about it yet, the signs suggest the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro might come with a five years Android operating system updates. That’s a huge step up from the platform’s current three-year high, to say the least – and it could have some pretty big implications, as we’ll explore in more detail in a moment.

Pixel takeaway # 2: the “Android Pixel” factor

A big piece Google’s Pixel 6 marketing materials focus on how phones feature the new Material You theme system at the center of Android 12. It’s more than a new coat of paint: Material You is a complete reinvention of the Android experience – “sort of like Android on some super sweet mood enhancers,” as one incredibly astute human-animal put it. And it revolves around an ambitious new feature that taps into your own personal wallpaper to create a custom system-wide palette that then extends to the entire Android experience – from your Quick Settings panel and settings screens to the icons on your home screen and even the user interfaces. within applications.

Eventually, the implications will extend even beyond your phone: Google says your custom design choices on Android will travel at some point with your account on every app and type of device you use – also applying to apps. Google on the web. when it comes to Chromebooks, smart displays, and wearable devices based on wear and tear. This is a Google ecosystem move, in other words. And the Pixel, it seems, might be the only smartphone product to tie into this new cross-platform thread in its full and pure form.

Google Pixel 6 - Hardware for you Google

Suffice it to say, this is a monumental shift in both what the Pixel stands for within Android and what Android stands for. himself represents as an operating system.

Pixel to remember n ° 3: The pivot behind the previous pivot

Take a second and go get yourself a Dramamine or two, because that next takeout is definitely going to make you dizzy.

Last year, you see, Google threw us a real curveball with their Pixel product plan. After four years of establishing the Pixel as a premium flagship-caliber phone, Google released the Pixel 5, which completely redefined what the Pixel brand stood for and what it was all about.

The Pixel 5 wasn’t a premium, premium phone, and it wasn’t meant to be. It was positioned as a more affordable phone that focused on the most important qualities, but eliminated many more sophisticated niceties in order to achieve a lower price. It was a throwback to the old Nexus model from Google’s past, in a sense – where you could get a good, solid Android phone with great software and without some of the high-end bells and whistles for a surprisingly decent price.

As part of this, the Pixel 5 lacked some of the more high-end metal or glass builds that its predecessors had, and it eliminated the correct-the launched (and heavily promoted) face unlock technology the Pixel 4 introduced a year earlier. It made sense from a business perspective, as I pointed out at the time, since Google had failed to get its high-end Pixels off the ground but had has had great success with its more budget “a” Pixel phones.

As I thought last fall:

In the grand scheme of things, maybe losing those luxuries in order to make a more affordable Pixel phone is a price Google has to pay if it is to turn its homemade phone program into a sustainable business. It makes sense on one level, although it is a bit disappointing on another. The real test, however, is whether this latest strategy is the one Google actually sticks with – or if we find ourselves thinking of another “Google phone” hub around this time next year.

Mmhmm. And guess what we’re thinking about now?

Oh yes: Google has returned from its previous pivot and income to the high-end, premium flagship approach of the Pixel, just a year after redefining the brand so briefly. It’s one hell of a dizzying ride, even by Google’s dizzying standards.

To be fair, we don’t know exactly how much the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will cost at this point. But in an interview with The VergeGoogle hardware boss Rick Osterloh said they would be on a “different” level from the company’s recent offerings and the Pixel 6 would “definitely be a premium product.” As the author of this article notes, it’s hard to consider this to mean anything less than a thousand smackeroos.

The only bright spot, if Google manages to point it out effectively, could be that longer lifespan we talked about a second ago. Think about it: if we arbitrarily say that one of the Pixel 6 models costs $ 1,200, but also assume that it will get the full five years of software support that we expect, that effectively means it would cost $ 240 per year. during his decent life. The similarly priced Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, by comparison, gets it right Three years of operating system updates, making it $ 400 per year of recommended ownership.

Only time will tell, of course, if Google finds a way to convey this advantage. Talking about that…

Pixel take away # 4: the marketing machine

We’re six years into Google’s Pixel phone plan, and for now, the Pixel is still primarily a niche product for Android enthusiasts and other “savvy” people. It’s anything but a consumer phone, and pretty much every market share statistic set reflects that.

Despite all the practical advantages of the Pixel over other Android phone options, its not-so-prominent positioning in the smartphone ecosystem isn’t all that surprising. Plain and simple, six years later, Google still seems to be doing hardly anything – or hardly anything effective, at least – to market the Pixel and make average phone buying organizations aware of its most exceptional elements. Heck, most people not obsessed with tech usually don’t even know that the Pixel exist, in my experience.

And with each passing year and each new Pixel exclusive element that is added to the image, that disconnect becomes more and more daunting. To quote once again my favorite tech philosopher and the most beautiful and humble Homo sapien I know:

Imagine if the next iPhone came with it [features like] AI-enabled call filter and call waiting technology. Imagine how Apple would market these possibilities. They would be innovative, revolutionary, magical and revolutionary, Damn! They would be life-transforming systems, available “only on iPhone” (because when someone pretentiously avoids the use of items by referring to their products, you know they must be important).

Plain and simple, we would never hear the end of it. And with Google? Google has the goods right now. And we never hear about it.

Well, with the Pixel 6, Google says it’s ready to start selling. “The product is really, now, the Google phone,” Osterloh told The Verge – “so we’re ready to invest a lot in marketing and we want to grow.”

It’s funny, because Google has been talking about the Pixel as being “the Google phone” since pretty much the first model. And there has been talk of moving the Pixel line beyond niche status and toward dominance as a “next years” style goal for several years now.

But maybe this time it’s serious. Maybe this time he’s ready to start pushing the Pixel properly and making ordinary people – not just us exceptional nerds – aware of what it’s all about. Perhaps. We’ve certainly heard this story before, however, more than a couple of times.

To be fair, the last Osterloh gave a specific timeline in 2017 – five years ago. At the time, in an interview with (who else?) The edge, he said, “We don’t want this to be a niche. … We hope to sell products in high volumes in five years.

And here we are, five years later. The Pixel 6 is almost upon us. Now let’s see if this is the turn Google is actually delivering – and if, in true Google style, the sixth time ends up being the charm.

Don’t miss an ounce of Pixel magic. Sign up for my new Pixel Academy online course and discover tons of hidden features and time saving tips for your favorite Pixel phone.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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