Google is taking a page from Apple’s playbook by making a bigger push to build its own hardware.
Rick Osterloh, head of Google’s new hardware group, said that in doing so, Google can take full advantage of capabilities it’s designing with artificial intelligence and machine learning. Apple has long designed both iPhone hardware and the iOS operating-system software that runs on it. Now, Google is doing the same with the upcoming Pixel phones running Google’s Android system.
The Pixel is one of several gadgets Google announced Tuesday in San Francisco.
New Phone, New Branding, New Marketing
Google’s previous phones, dubbed Nexus, had limited distribution.
Now, the company is casting aside the Nexus name in favor of Pixel, a brand that Osterloh said has “always represented the best of hardware and software designed by Google.”
And instead of relying primarily on online orders, as was the case with Nexus, Google will offer Pixel through Verizon as well, starting Oct. 20. Advance orders began Tuesday starting at roughly $650 for the 5-inch version and $750 for the slightly larger 5.5-inch screen. Google will also make Pixel available at Best Buy and various wireless carriers outside the U.S.
One of the advantages Google phones have long had is their quick access to Android updates. With other phones, individual manufacturers and carriers have to approve changes, resulting in delays . Google said Verizon will still have to approve updates for Pixel, but the process will be streamlined and done ahead of time.
Google promises a spectacular camera and unlimited online storage for phones at full resolution. When storage space on the phone is low, the Pixel will free up storage and rely on the online copy. Apple takes a similar approach with its iCloud Photo Library, though free storage is limited to 5 gigabytes, or a few thousand photos.
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