I really liked the Google Pixel

But I still returned it

I was bored, I had played with Android for a long time (dabbled in Android Development) and though it was getting better, at a rapid pace that was fast eclipsing iOS in terms of usability and features so I took the plunge and went from an iPhone 6s + to a Google Pixel (also swapped my Apple Watch our for a Moto 260 v2 but that’s another story).

At first it was perfect, solid build, good materials and a version of Android so clean it could only have come from Google. Camera was fast and high quality (still think its a better point and shoot then the iPhone 7), the Google Assistant was useful and fast charge was a god send.

I even moved primary banks to make use of Android Pay…..

The initial setup was okay ish, most of my messages didn’t transfer and neither did the photos (ended up installing the Google Photos App on my iPhone and syncing through the cloud)

Everything was great for a month or two but then a few things happened, firstly all the shared task lists my partner and I would use didn't work (previously using in built iOS reminders), so we needed to flick over to a new app — Wunderlist was selected, installed and configured on each others device (this was one of many third party apps that needed to be installed….)

Next thing was I wanted to have a shared photo album, but one that was private and locked down — I started with Google Photos until I found out that when you share a link to a “private album” it’s not actually restricting who can access the album, just means you need a specific URL to access – which is kinda shit (I understand this might have now changed but cant get a crystal clear answer…).

Beyond these issues Android 7 on the pixel was fast, responsive and most importantly clean — no bloatware, no additional shit that wasn’t really needed just a clean fast phone with monthly security updates. This is the Android Phone you want to tell your family to purchase.

One area that I thought would be a problem was the app gap (the idea that Android Apps are of worse quality or they are shipping with malware, etc…) personally I didn't have an issue with all my apps, I found every app I used day to day easily and also didn’t notice a quality gap.

Given the minor bugs above I think Google have three areas to heavily improve upon for the Pixel 2 Launch

1. Family Accounts

Apple have absolutely nailed this and Google are getting there but not fast enough. As a family we want to share pictures, videos, contacts, calendars, apps, movies and lots of other content in a super easy fashion — not configure each individual app to share details and have to mange configuration.

Google are getting around to this with with Google Play but things like Google Photos isn’t aware of “family” as a construct, nor a thing like Keep and other services where you might want to make data available to your wider group like a family circle.

Yes I know some third party developers are building this

Update: Google this morning announced Family Hub which is a step in the right direction but still very basic — more of a phone Net Nanny then anything else

2. Hardware Support

I had hardware issues and getting a replacement device or even getting it checked out was hard, compared to Apple’s service coverage (Apple Care and the Store Network) it makes Google’s Live Chat feature look absolutely like a joke (oh and my experience with it was also a joke).

Either work with existing providers, do “hot swap” devices or something but when someone has an issue with the phone get it fixed, not hand between department to debarment with no ownership.

3. Ecosystem Products

We are seeing a lot more from Google in this space with Home, Wifi, Chromecast and other devices but the overall ecosystem around google hardware is light on — Apple’s certification program is expensive but loads of devices have been made and apple stock in store that are designed to work with Apple

HomeKit is a great example (and a growing market) where they have truely fostered out another ecosystem to keep people in the overall Apple Family and get more device makers on board — this HomeKit strategy is working so well that builders are now specifically making new plans and layouts to incorporate HomeKit as a feature

Also it’s good to point out that back in 2011/2012 Google actually had the Tungsten / Google@Home initiative that they demo’d at I/O, they discussed and demo’d gadgets that worked through apps on Android devices and could enable the smart home (they event announced the failed Nexus Q device if you remember) — Google had a head start but blew it early on.

At this point Google still have a strong change and opportunity to make a dent in the market but they need to catch up quickly

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