Google Pixel, Pixel XL: Five Features Only Pixel Phone Users Will Get

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Google Pixel, Pixel XL: Five Features Only Pixel Phone Users Will Get
Highlights
  • The newly launched Pixel and Pixel XL have some unique features
  • Other Android users won't be getting most of these features
  • Google Assistant will become available to all users in time

At its event in San Francisco, Google announced the launch of two new phones, the Google Pixel and the Google Pixel XL, as well as the starting price in India and other markets. The Pixel starts at Rs. 57,000 for the 32GB variant, and the Pixel XL will set you back by Rs. 67,000 for the 32GB variant.

The two phones are identical except or the screen size and resolution, apart from the battery capacity, and both are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor with 4GB of RAM. They come with the same 8-megapixel front camera, and 12.3-megapixel rear camera, and in many ways live up to the premium pricing. You can see the full specifications of the Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL.

The phones also pack some unique features that are only going to be for the Pixel line; these features aren't supposed to extend to the rest of Android, except one. Here are five features unique to the Google Pixel phones:

1) Unlimited photo and video storage for life
As a regular user of Google Photos, you can back up your images without having to pay a paisa. It's great, but Google compresses the images to a "high-quality" size. That's not really an issue if you're only going to be viewing the images on your phone's screen, but if you're taking printouts, or perhaps viewing them on a 4K monitor, then the compression starts to look bad. Google's Pixel phones will offer unlimited backups of photos and videos at full resolution - even videos recorded at 4K will be backed up for free on the cloud, with no limit.

2) Smart storage
You know what's better than having unlimited backups? Not having to worry about managing unlimited backups. Google calls this feature Smart Storage, and it automatically removes images and videos from your phone to the cloud when it decides that you're running short on space. It picks the files automatically so you're not wasting time managing your storage, and thanks to the unlimited backups Google is offering, you don't lose out on the quality of your videos at all.

This means that your 32GB storage will still be adequate for use, even if you decide to film 4K videos - the files will just live on the cloud instead of filling up your phone needlessly.

3) Google Assistant
The Google Pixel and Pixel XL are the first smartphones with Google Assistant built-in. Google Assistant is the new smart assistant that some of the people reading would already have experienced thanks to Allo. The Assistant gets promoted to the home screen, and you can call it up with a long-press on the home button.

The Assistant is more than just a voice search interface - it's backed up by AI smarts, and it contextualises the information it digs up through your earlier interactions. In our usage of Allo, the Assistant came across as a work in progress, but Google says that the more you use it, the more useful it will become. As of now, you can already use it to add events to your calendar, make a grocery list, and navigate home.

Google has told Gadgets 360 that the feature will be coming to other phones, but didn't announce a timeline for this.

4) Pixel Launcher
Google's Pixel Launcher is exclusive to the Pixel phones, and is the evolution of the Google Now Launcher. This includes replacing Google Now with the Google Assistant, a dynamic calendar icon that shows you the date in a glance, a revamped app drawer, new, round app icons, and more.

Google might bring it to more devices down the line, though given the name, don't get your hopes up for this happening in the near future. Sideloading could be an option, as was demonstrated when the unofficial version leaked last month.

5) 24/7 customer support
One of the biggest problems with buying a phone is getting customer support. Google is aware of this, and is offering 24/7 customer support via both voice and text and it also has a screen sharing solution so that the tech-support can directly see what's on your screen to diagnose problems. It's an optional setting, in case you were worrying about security issues.

Putting this in place requires a lot of manpower, which is why Google can't roll this particular feature out to all phones, though of course, other manufacturers could add a similar feature themselves if they wanted to.

These five features will clearly distinguish the Pixel phones from other Android offerings and help them stand out.

Bonus
One of the coolest offerings of the event was also one of the smallest - Google's Quick Switch feature and dongle. The adapter will enable you to quickly switch to a Pixel phone, copying all your data from an iPhone or another Android handset with on-screen instructions to transfer your data.

Other brands including Samsung and Motorola have their own solutions to migrating from other hardware so this isn't completely unique, though the implementation is slick and appealing.

What do non-Pixel users get?
The Pixel phones also launch with Android 7.1 Nougat before anyone else gets to use the operating system. However, this at least isn't exclusive to them, and the rest of us will get the new OS at some point in the line. Android 7.1 also brings some cool features that people will benefit from though this will take some time to happen.

1) Daydream VR The biggest of these is clearly Daydream VR - support for the Daydream View headset and Google's new VR ecosystem. As of now, the headset will be certified for use only with the Google Pixel phones but Daydream is supposed to be a platform and phones with Android 7.1 Nougat will also support the use of Daydream View headsets and have access to the Daydream VR platform.

2) Fingerprint gestures Android 7.1 Nougat also gets fingerprint gestures – Among other manufacturers, Coolpad has done something similar with the Coolpad Note 5 but with Android 7.1, you will be able to have features like swiping on the sensor to open notifications as a standard.

3) Night Mode Some Android manufacturers already ship phones with night mode which filters out blue light, and the same is true for iOS. Now Google has made the feature standard and phones from Android 7.1 onwards will also be able to switch to night mode to reduce eyestrain.

It's a small feature that nonetheless has a huge impact, and it's surprising that it wasn't the norm across devices much sooner.

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Gopal Sathe Gopal Sathe is the Editor of Gadgets 360. He has covered technology for 15 years. He has written about data use and privacy, and its use in politics. He has also written extensively about the latest devices, video games, and startups in India. Write to gopal@ndtv.com or get in touch on Twitter through his handle @gopalsathe with tips. More
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