Unlike previous Nexus device launches, however, the Pixels aren't presented as a shining showcase of Android, they're presented very much as Google's phones. That means they come with a number of exclusive features, something that didn't really happen with Nexus devices previously.
The Pixel phones launch on Android 7.1 and that version of Android will be coming to other Nexus devices (and other Android devices sometime in the future), but we now have a list of what you will get and what you won't get.
These are the Pixel-exclusive software features:
- Pixel Launcher, including wallpaper picker, and home button shortcut
- Google Assistant
- 24/7 customer support
- Pixel Camera, including Smartburst, HDR+
- Smart storage
- Unlimited Google Photos backup
- Dynamic calendar icon
- New setup design
There are some hardware elements that are only on the Pixel right now, for example supporting that iPhone quick switch adapter cable, and something that's referred to as a Sensor Hub processor.
The big exclusive here is Google Assistant. This is Google's new smart AI service that's an evolution of Ok Google. It's in the Allo app in beta, it's in Google Home and on the Pixel devices.
- What is Google Assistant, how does it work, and when can you use it?
The other stuff we'll happily leave to the Pixel, but we can't believe that Google Assistant will be a Pixel exclusive for any length of time: if Google wants it to be adopted, it needs to get people using it. If it's not appearing on new Android devices in 2017, like the Samsung Galaxy S8, then it's Google that loses out.
There are some features announced for the Pixel that are coming to all phones getting Android 7.1 however:
- Night light
- Fingerprint scanner swipe function
- Background updates
- Daydream VR mode
The big one in this list is Daydream VR support. If Google didn't offer that, then no one would be able to take advantage of the new Daydream View hardware. As that launches in November, we'd expect to be seeing software updates for Nexus devices in the not too distant future too.
The big question remains: are those exclusive features enough to convince you to buy a Pixel, or are you tempted to hold fire and see what 2017 brings?
- Best smartphones to look forward to in 2017
- Google Pixel preview: Arise my Pixel apprentice
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