Apple has been the long undisputed smartphone gold standard, but Google’s hoping to harness the potential of artificial intelligence and machine learning to get ahead.
Introducing the next version of the Pixel smartphone at a special event on Wednesday, the company truly came out swinging. Mario Queiroz, Google’s product chief, introduced the Pixel 2 with a healthy heaping of friendly competition.
“Feel free to choose whichever size Pixel you prefer, because you’ll get the same great experience on both,” he said. “We don’t set aside better features for the larger device.”
The obvious knock against Apple, which has been making the more expensive “plus” versions of its phones larger, was warmly received by the audience with ample applause, laughter, and cheers.
Another inferred jab came when Queiroz described the color options. While Apple has garnered quite a bit of attention for giving its product Crayola-reminiscent colors and names to match, Queiroz was careful to downplay the hues the smaller Pixel model will come in. He described the three options as “kinda blue,” “just black,” and “clearly white,” a stark contrast to Apple’s “space grey,” “jet black,” and lest we forget “rose gold.”
“We love picking the color names,” he said as the audience laughed.
After laying out the phone’s features, Queiroz made abundantly clear that Google’s out for blood. (Or, at least, your money.)
“New Pixel users will be able to transfer their stuff from their old phone in just 10 minutes,” he said among laughs from the audience. He then went on to lay out the (significantly lower) price points.
Perhaps because Google has never before even attempted to come up against Apple in the laptop department, company execs tread more lightly when bragging about the new iMac competitor Pixelbook.
One part that Google director of product management Matt Vokoun couldn’t help but acknowledge, however, was the A.I.
After asserting that the “laptop experience hadn’t changed in 20 years,” he was careful to underscore how the Google Pixelbook is different. One notable example of this is how the A.I.-enabled Google Assistant doesn’t require you speak to it in order to work. Instead, users can simply type messages to the Google equivalent of Siri or use its accessory pen to practically (and silently) ask for and receive assistance.
“[Sometimes] it’s not the right time or place to talk to your computer,” he said with a smile. “Like when you’re in a coffee shop or sitting in the audience right now.”
Your move, Apple.