Google released its new Pixel and Pixel XL phones this Thursday, Oct. 20, to much anticipation within the Georgetown community.
Students and faculty, after having mixed reviews for the latest releases of Google competitor Apple Inc. earlier this year — the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch 2 — were generally positive about Google’s latest mobile phones.
The Pixel phones themselves show significant developments.
The standard Pixel phone features a 5-inch screen, while its Pixel XL counterpart boasts a larger one of 5.5 inches. Consumers can purchase the Pixel for $649 and the Pixel XL for $799.
In terms of hardware, the phones come in three colors and offer a variety of new features including a stated minimum 13 hours of battery, charging times of seven hours of battery life from 15 minutes connected to a power source and a 12.3 megapixel camera.
According to Digital Trends, the Pixel line, which includes a tablet released last year called the Pixel C, is made completely by Google. This start-to-finish approach differs from the company’s earlier activity, according to the technology news website ZDNet. As the Android-focused technology news website Android Authority notes, Google’s previous Nexus line was different in being produced through various partnerships with different original investments were not impressive for a company of its size.
In a much-heralded development, the Pixel phones also feature Google Assistant, an artificial intelligence capability that is similar to the iPhone’s Siri, though Google claims it is more advanced. Marketed as “your own personal Google,” the system integrates the user’s Google calendar and learns from the user’s preferences.
Additionally, the Pixel connects to Google Drive to offer what the company deems “unlimited” storage. This feature offers an alternative to the iPhone, which has storage limited to between 16GB to 256GB, the higher end of which often costs upwards of $900.
According to Michael Macovski, associate professor of communication, culture and technology in Georgetown’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, while the implications of this dynamic integration of Google features remain to be seen, the development shows potential.
“Google could have the advantage of linking a lot of parts of the culture — not just your email, but your calendar and your social media and your bill paying,” Macovski said. “It could go even further because the culture is going in the direction of more connectivity and bundling, all services, all needs in one phone.”
Macovski added that his positive outlook persists over the widespread concern that enhancements in mobile devices are causing people to rely on them too heavily, consequently creating a detrimental effect on society.
“A lot of people take the attitude toward technology that the sky is falling and technology is leading the way, or texting is leading the way,” Macovski said. “I don’t have that feeling. I think it’s the way we use things. People said that about many kinds of technology, but it’s never really happened.”
Macovski said the increased connectivity and efficiency of the Pixel and other more advanced phones are beneficial for both the individual and society as a whole.
“The more connectivity, the better. This makes our lives more simple,” Macovski said. “Now some people claim that that’s too much multitasking, that you might be tempted to do everything at once. But I think we can connect that. First of all, you can always put down your phone.”
Consumers in the smartphone market at Georgetown appear to agree that the Pixel represents a positive achievement. Yousuf Latif (MSB ’20), who has a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, likes his current phone but would potentially consider purchasing a Pixel in the future.
“It looks cool and has unlimited photo storage. I’d consider it,” Latif said.
For now, however, Latif has no plans to switch phones, as there are still capabilities his current phone has that the Pixel does not include.
“My phone’s waterproof actually, so that would probably cross the Pixel off the list,” Latif said.
Janhvi Bhojwani (SFS ’18), who currently owns the iPhone 6S, said she would also be hesitant to switch to the Pixel.
“There have been instances where my phone buttons don’t work, or like in the wintertime, the temperature makes it freeze up, and I’d consider changing my phone,” Bhojwani said. “But the Android is just super confusing, and I prefer the iPhone.”
When asked about the price of the Google Pixel being potentially restrictive for consumers, Macovski said he does not see the price tag as limiting the potential of the phones on a larger scale.
“I don’t think the price tag will get in the way. There’s always been a niche for those high-end and high-price technology items,” Macovski said. “Apple proved that there’s a niche by charging more and, in many cases, giving more.”
Overall, students appear open to the possibilities of the Pixel phones, falling in line with Latif’s view that the modern spirit revolves around advancing technologies.
“It’s different. Technology is all about getting different stuff, that’s why we get new phones,” Latif said.
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