Google’s Pixel devices are one of those rare premium phones where software takes precedence over hardware. After the success of last year’s Pixel and Pixel XL, Google today launched their successors – The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2XL – to demonstrate and push its software might.
Just as last year, the Pixel phones don’t run stock Android but have several custom features layered on top to tune things the Google way. Let’s discuss 10 of these exciting Pixel 2 software features that take advantage of Googles vast ecosystem of services.
New always on display
The always on display on the new Pixel 2 phones, apart from allowing you to peek at info like notifications, date and time, will identify the music playing on your device. But what’s interesting is that it won’t be connecting to Google to dig that info (to conserve battery).
The feature uses on-device machine learning and identifies your songs from a database of thousands of songs. And if you tap the visible text, you will directly be taken to a Google assistant page/card of that song where you can know more about it or look for it in other apps like Spotify and YouTube.
Pixel bar at the bottom; stays there
The Pixel Pill in the last year’s Pixel launcher is once again replaced by a search bar. The search bar is now present at the very bottom where the dock used to be.
This is where it makes the most sense (at least for Google), being easily accessible. Also, even if you swipe between different home screens, the search bar will remain put at the bottom.
At a glance at the top
With the search bar moving to the bottom, the vacant room on the top is occupied by ‘At a glance’ screen that automatically shows countdowns for upcoming events, reminders, and other information that you’d be interested in.
Search gets better
The search on Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL gets better at fetching information within your phone. When you type the search keyword, a horizontal bar with matching apps and contacts name will be underlined at the bottom. You can even drag the app and contact shortcuts to your home screen.
Active edge to trigger assistant
While Samsung has a much-criticized dedicated key to summon Bixby, Google has a smarter and more natural way of doing this.
You can squeeze the phone (same as the Active edge on HTC U11) to fire Google Assistant. And the phone is smart enough to discard unintentional squeezes.
Google Pixels camera is tuned and robust enough to handle Augmented Reality applications. While developers will hopefully be adding more cool AR apps with ARCore SDK somewhere down the road, Google had some AR stuff to share last night.
Pixel XL will have a bunch of animated AR stickers that you can add to your camera viewfinder screen. These include food emojis, Star War episode 8 characters, NBA players and more.
Google Lens Preview
Pixel phones will also get a Google lens preview. The preview word indicates that the project is still in nascent stages and the accuracy will only have to improve over a period of time.
The lens benefits from the vast search database that Google has its disposal since eternity, and you can use it to know more about things you see and shoot. This is akin to Bixby Vision, but should work better (can’t get any worse, right)?
Bokeh selfies and rear cameras
Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL have only one rear camera but the software enables you to take portrait shots (with blurred background) using both the front and rear cameras.
Now, the Pixel and Pixel XL were the first phones that could give OIS (hardware feature) like stabilization with EIS (software), and thus we are inclined to believe that Google might actually be able to deliver bokehs with crisp edges using just its software chops.
Google Assistant can do more
Google Assistant on Pixel 2 phones will have a more control over phone’s hardware. You will also be able to use it to buy tickets, broadcast messages to your array of Google home devices, enjoy support for more than 1000 smart home devices and even help you with daily routines (performs a series of actions with routine commands like Good night and Good morning).
Updates promised for 3 years
Naturally, the new Pixel phones will be running the latest Android software. And it will keep running the latest for the next 3 years, assures Google. That implies your phone will probably get all software updates and security patches throughout its lifetime.
Top 10 Google Pixel 2 Software Features
Apart from these features, other Pixel privileges like HDR+ mode and unlimited Photos storage will be passed on to the new devices as well. As expected, The pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL give search and Google Assistant the center stage.