Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL will come with the kind of integration that will let Google predict what the user is up to and suggest answers before a query has been entered.
Google has slowly made it clear that it has hardware ambitions that spill well beyond its grip on online search and advertisement. The Pixel 1 was well received, but the Pixel 2, despite its great camera, was not much of a success when it came to actual sales. That has not deterred Mountain View from putting its mind behind a Pixel 3, which was showcased to the world last week.
But I don’t think Google is really aiming for sweet success in the Android ecosystem, it will be too tough to take on a Samsung or a Xiaomi and still call them partners. I get the feeling the Google Pixel smartphones are almost like the reference designs for what a perfect Android device should be like. When Android One was launched a few years ago, Google did give a list of what it would like in these budget smartphones. The Google Pixel series is more like a hardware version of this, around which ODMs can spin their flagship models for the year. But then the Pixel 3 is more like the lower end of the bar when it comes to specs, almost like saying this is the bare minimum we expect.
But there is more. As Google showed the world its latest Pixel 3 smartphones, it became obvious that for the maker of Android these phones were more about perfecting the tango between hardware and software. The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL will come with the kind of integration that will let Google even predict what the smartphone user is up to and suggest answers even before a query has been entered. AI will work overtime and understand everything, from behaviour to locations and offer suggestions, and answers, relevant to the moment. This is why Google is calling its new Pixel 3 series the “most helpful phones ever”. Now, that is a sales pitch we have never heard before.
Driven by Google Assistant, this ‘assisted computing’ experience will gradually become more unique and tailor-made for the user. Each Pixel phone will technically be different in what it does. This could actually be a new way to sell the phone. Yes, Google’s Pixel 3 phones are not really a big jump when it comes to hardware, but the phone itself does more than its predecessor without a 7nm processor or RAM upwards of 8GM. This is symbiosis and this could well be the future of smartphones.
If Google’s keynote was any indication, the tech giant seems to have reached a point where it can say its phones are capable of achieving camera goodness or processing greatness without much help from hardware. It will all be software and cloud driven. Not a new concept, but Google doing it is significant.
In fact, the top-specced phones aren’t really the ones that sell the best — the iPhone being a good example of the same. Could we be gradually entering an era where the specs don’t really matter beyond a point? Could there be a zero-client phone concept with minimum hardware capabilities, but with enough resources to achieve whatever it want off the cloud? Yes, I am thinking aloud here, but with 5G networks just round the corner in many markets, I don’t think this would be so hard. Also, the opportunities here are endless and could bring down the cost of the device across the board. Also, if this works we could actually have ‘specifications as a service’ where you pay for the higher RAM or processing power only when you need it. Now you pay for everything on the phone, though you seldom use all of it all the time. While the software and cloud might be capable of achieving this, we might still be a bit far off from being able to pinpoint a hardware base on which anything can be done. The Google Pixel could well be that.