Pixel Has Come Closer to iPhone Than Anything Else
I’ve been playing with a first generation Google pixel for a few days now. After those few days I’m astonished by how close the experience comes to iOS. I don’t say this about Android in general, Samsung’s devices are cluttered messes with unnecessary add-ones and hardware that feels uncomfortable. The Pixel experience however, is fantastic. Because the Pixel’s version of Android is as Google intended it ultimately delivers an experience unlike any other Android device I’ve ever laid my hands on.
The Pixel launcher is gorgeous and should be the gold standard that which other launchers aspire to. It may be simple and not very customizable, but that’s because it’s smooth and seamless. It feels like a Google product and it works exactly as you’d expect it to. Its natural interactions and clean design combine to create a fabulous experience. The circular iconography that Google is using in the Pixel launcher creates a uniformity in design that has been missing from Android for so many years. While widgets don’t feel vital, the Google search bar at the bottom of the display has become something that I miss on my iPhone. Spotlight has become top notch with iOS 12, but it certainly needs to be front and center on the home screen and not hidden with a swipe gesture.
Google Play and app permissions have gotten much less complicated, ultimately making me less concerned about privacy on Android. Older apps still give prompts before installing but it makes it clear what you should install and what you shouldn’t. Regardless, Google has made things much simpler for the end user.
Multitasking on Pixel feels more fluid than it does on older iPhones, but cannot match the gestural interface of the iPhone X. Google assistant is really fun to use, especially since it’s infinitely smarter than Siri. Sure, that’s probably in part because it knows much more about me than Siri does, but I’ve gave up my right to privacy the day I created a Google account. I personally think it’s a fair trade to give Google my information in exchange for more convenient access to apps and services that make my life better.
The first generation Pixel’s hardware is great, it feels like an iPhone in a way that I assume was done to make iPhone owners feel more comfortable using one. The aluminum and glass build is solid. The fingerprint sensor on the back feels more natural than it does on the front of the iPhone. The Pixel’s ambient display makes me crave it on iPhone X more than ever before too. Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are very different looking devices compared to the original Pixel. They look more like traditional Android phones and have less premium builds. The first generation Pixel shows what Google is capable of and we’re only one the second generation. I’m excited to see where Google takes the Pixel, especially because it challenges Apple to step up its game. I’ll forever be an iPhone user and I love my iPhone X more than any other device I’ve ever owned. But being in the tech community, it’s vital to have a complete understanding of the two platforms. So I’m excited to see how the Pixel delights me and how it will make my iPhone delight me even more.
Pixel isn’t pixel perfect though. I had to go through about seven software updates after unboxing the device. Like iOS, it should have had one update to bring me up to the current release. I’m also not crazy about the division between software updates and security updates. Why aren’t they a singular download? Additionally, there are still some rough edges where I have to dig through settings or see system alerts that no user should ever see. There are occasional performance hiccups with Android and the experience certainly could be smoother. So while Pixel is coming very close to the iPhone, it still has a ways to go.