Breaking Up with the iPhone The Google Pixel 2It isn’t easy for me to say this: After ten years together, I’m leaving the iPhone. We’ve been slowly drifting apart the past couple of years. And while checking out Google’s latest event, a flicker of thought began. I felt like something was missing from the iPhone. To make a long story short: it’s Google’s software. I’ve been planning on buying the iPhone X since before the iPhone 6s release. I wanted the X when it was more likely known as the ‘iPhone Pro’, or the ‘8’. I even bought an SE this year just to get me by when my 6+became capricious. All of that has changed in the last few months. Read on as I dive into why Google impressed me so.HardwareWe’re finally getting back to the glory days of iPhone design: shatterable on both sides.I like the iPhone X, a lot. All stainless steel and glass. It is the premium phone. The iPhone 4 was the nicest to hold. The iPhone X is like a Bentley Continental. A beautiful look and feel. Powerful. Metal buttons. Hand stitched leather. Yet, the technology doesn’t move the needle very much. Now I know what you’re saying: “Tim, literally everyone agrees this phone is the future of phones.” The iPhone X is just the incremental hardware upgrade that we should have had last year. It has an IR dot projector and a (very nice) new screen. The facial features are neat. But they solve problems I didn’t really have. And let’s be honest, people will care about Animoji as much as iMessage stickers in 6 months. It has already quieted down, but with the holiday season right around the corner, we are sure to see a swell of them.Another large (personal) complaint: I hate rounded edges. The iPhone 4, 5, C, SE, and yes, the Pixel 2 have lovely flat edges that let you hold them with assuredness. I was never so clumsy as with the iPhone 6+. The iPhone X is undeniably sexier than the Pixel 2. The Pixel 2 is subdued. It comes in a soft white, black, and a rainy-day ‘kinda blue’. The X is something you behold. The Pixel 2 is a Tesla to the iPhone’s Bentley. The Verge called it Scandinavian in their first look. It shrugs off it’s bezels when every other phone is compromising something to kill them.The simple industrial design of the Pixel 2 is almost a statement about the current problem in the industry. It’s an issue that Jony Ive is certainly grappling with: How can you make a small, thin rectangle look new? Jony went the materials route. Google ignored the question entirely. How do you make it more helpful? They’ve made a metal body, but covered it with a textured coating not because it looks better, but because it is better to use. The Pixel 2 is designed with usability in mind above all else. The Pixel 2’s hardware is confidently basic.SoftwareThe software is where the Pixel 2 makes up for its subdued appearance. It’s a combination of a dozen little things. They have Apple’s sense of ecosystem but in an open manner. Take The Google Home, Chromecast, and Nest relationship shown in the picture. “Ok, Google, who’s at the door?” lets the Google Home tell the Nest doorbell camera to display the doorbell camera onto your Chromecast. Sure, Apple has integrations. The difference is each of these components works independently from the Google platform. Your Nest, Chromecast, and Google Home work just fine if you have an iPhone. Want to control your Apple TV from your Pixel? Nah. Play a Spotify playlist from Siri? Lol. Siri can’t even control my thermostat because Apple uses its own home connectivity platform.Apple’s walled garden of services was fine when they were the best.This hits me in the face every day.Links open in Safari, rather than Chrome. Would it be so awful to cede control here, Apple? Google’s browser is better.Apple now allows for a third party keyboard, but I constantly have to wrestle away Apple’s keyboard.Apple Maps is getting better, but WHY? Google Maps is better in pretty much every way. Here is an excellent detailed comparison of the rate of development between the two.I can’t buy an audiobook in the Audible app.Siri is comically bad most of the time.When I get in my car while listening to Audible or Pandora, the Bluetooth connection forces Apple Music to start playing. (This is hopefully considered a bug in iOS 11. But Apple could conceivable think it’s a feature…)Apple could open iMessage to the world, but instead chooses to bifurcate it (unlike Google with Allo).Google Photos is spectacular, free, and open across platforms. It’s a joy to use from any device.Let’s not forget Apple forcing Bing on us in Siri…Other services will always live as second-class citizens on iOS. This didn’t seem as apparent over the past couple of years. Possibly because iOS was really neck-in-neck with Android. After watching the Google event, I started to feel that better services live as second-class citizens. In Android, Spotify can be your default music player? Lastpass can be set as a default password store? Here I was, happy for the ability to press ‘Send’, select Lastpass, authenticate Lastpass, and finally select the credential. A little dance that surely slows the adoption of good password practices.A bunch of little conveniences that let your phone work better wouldn’t have been enough for me to jump platforms.I get glimpses of Google’s AI on the iPhone. The first time it happened was two years ago. I had taken several small clips of my kids during Halloween festivities with the goal to stitch them together the next day in iMovie. That morning, Google notified me that it had made a movie. It had automatically done what I was planning, and the automatic results were better than I would have produced. I was absolutely floored. Today, Google categorizes my photos with impressive accuracy and are available through a website that makes icloud.com look every bit the afterthought that it absolutely is.The software prowess of Google is also becoming clear in the Pixel 2’s camera, which currently sits atop the smart phone camera throne. Using software and hardware techniques to rival Apple’s portrait settings, stabilizing video, determining capture-worthy moments. Google’s AI first software will only get better.Google also has neat tricks like searching Google with pictures you take, telling you what song is playing on the always-on home screen, hiding notifications temporarily a la the way Inbox can schedule emails, automatic photo sharing suggestions, joining a WiFi network from a photo of the network details, and more.Warning: I finish up with arm-waiving corporate philosophy. I have opinions, but do not harbor truth of what ought to be.While Google embraces an AI-centric platform that it iterates and sharpens constantly, Apple seems to be hoping to stumble upon the next big thing. Verge’s iPhone X review proclaims: “Face the future”. The thing is, I don’t believe Apple cares about the future. Apple care’s about Apple’s future. I don’t blame them! It’s what companies typically do. Google, though, looks to truly care about the future.Apple’s main selling point is a bundle of services that work reasonably well together on top of great hardware. And cracks in hardware decisions are starting to show. Previously, Apple sold a low-cost iPhone, last year’s model, and the new iPhone. Now, Apple sells the small 4-year-old version with 2-year-old internals, the medium and large 2-year-old versions, the medium and large 1-year-old version, and a brand new medium and large version that is completely out-shadowed by the flagship medium version with a large screen.A more sensible and simple lineup would be: iPhone SE > iPhone 8/8+ > iPhone X, with the 7 sold while supplies last. The failure of the Mac Pro, the forced march to USB-C in MacBooks in tandem with the proprietary lightning port on the phone, and the $20,000 Apple Watch Edition show a company with $250bn but no direction (also evidence: calling the top tier watches ‘Edition’. What does it even mean?). They are pushing into morecivic ventures with ‘Town Squares’. Beautiful Apple locations with community-driven events. Apple’s solution to competing in hardware is getting people just to love Apple more.Looking at company values, there isn’t any question why Google’s new phone is so appealing. Google has the experience and positioning to take phones beyond the limitations of the form factor they are in, while Apple seems stuck competing with its own success.I don’t want a shinier phone; I want a smarter one.Thanks for reading my ramble about consumer technology. You can find me on Twitter ‘liking’ many different things. The ‘Clap’ button goes to 50 in case you were wondering but were too shy to test the limits.
Ir a la fuente / Author: Tim Edwards
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