Google Pixel 4: Android And Assistant Are Evolving
I have a few takeaways from my limited time with Google's newly released Pixel 4 XL, but one that I keep coming back to is how slick the device is.
From the well thought-out UI and detailed animations for notifications, or swiping apps away, to the process of unlocking the phone, where it senses your hand is nearby and prepares itself to be unlocked before you've even touched it. Android has come far in recent years. Google's devices haven't always been the best showcases of that evolution, but the Pixel 4 certainly is.
Google's latest flagship feels like a significant upgrade - in this area - on last year's Pixel 3, which was plagued by memory management issues that made the phone slow and cumbersome to use. Now it's all a bit...luxury?
Assistant plays a large part in that luxuriousness. The integrated Assistant features - the ones that don't require the user to actively ask the AI something - are particularly special. The recording app that automatically transcribes speech and makes that text searchable (and keeps that data on-device) is exactly the kind of thing I expect from AI. Quiet, genuinely useful, secure.
The live transcription of videos - when you can't turn your volume up - is also excellent. It solves a common problem and it's baked into the sound options menu. You don't have to ask Assistant to do it, which is how it should be.
The baked-in AI, the stuff that works in the background to improve the experience is excellent. More than that, it fundamentally changes (for me at least) what I expect from a smartphone.
But other Assistant functionality, the stuff that requires you to say "Hey Google" still seems a bit, well, pointless. At a pre-brief last last week a Google executive demoed how Assistant can work within apps. For example the executive asked Assistant to "show me Beyonce's Instagram page" and it did just that. Impressive, but why? When do I need to do that? Or anything similar?
I've been firing questions at my Pixel 4 XL for the last few days, asking it things like 'send a message to Ed via WhatsApp' and 'find Barack Obama on Twitter'. It worked and didn't work at times and it was equally impressive and unimpressive. But I also struggled to come up with questions, with tasks, to test the AI.
This side of Assistant, the one where it's fun to show people at a pub what your quirky futuristic phone can do, is just that - a party trick. It still feels very gimmicky because after all of these years of having access to multiple Assistant enabled devices, I rarely use it in day-to-day life.
The genuinely useful AI features that are baked in to the OS mentioned above is where Assistant shines. Google has slowly incorporated AI into the core functionality of the phone over the years - song recognition into the lock-screen and Duplex two name a few - and rightly so.
This is what AI on your smartphone should be - effortless and ordinary. Diligently performing important - incredible, even -tasks without making a big fuss. Hopefully this is where Google is headed in the future - baking more AI into the core functionality of the phone, because it's far more impressive than a party trick.
More on ForbesMotorola's Razr V4 Releases In 2019: Here's What It Needs This Is The Pixel Watch Google Should Release
The Pixel 4 and 4 XL are the first Android phones released in the US to support secure facial recognition. You no longer have to hate on your Apple's friends because you now have
A new flagship smartphone, a slick refresh of Pixelbook Go, some home gadget improvements and a revamp of its wireless earbuds highlighted Google's annual hardware event held Tuesday in New York City. The latest models
The Pixelbook Go is nothing less than a mea culpa from Google, making good on the Pixel Slate. Launched last year at the very same Made By Google event, the Pixel Slate was such a
In an alternative universe, Google is the Apple of Android. People are counting down the days until the Pixel 4 goes on sale, and forums are filled with debates over how much better the square
NurPhoto via Getty Images The privacy backlash against AI-powered digital assistants has just taken an interesting twist, with a senior exec from one of the core proponents of the technology admitting that he
With unboxing a hot trend in the YouTube-sphere, Domino's Pizza and Google have embarked on an unusual influencer drive blending Italy's finest export and the tech giant's latest smartphone. A campaign from VMLY&R is delivering pizza
Google is delivering thousands of its newest phones today in what can literally be described as a cheesy collaboration with Ann Arbor-based Domino's Pizza Inc. To showcase the Pixel 4's hands-free functions, Google decided people should
Image: Zlata Ivleva / Mashable At Apple hardware events, it's almost become a ritual: The company shows off new, pricy gadgets which come without a near-essential accessory that you need to purchase separately,
More News in Google
Most ( Google Home households start with just one smart speaker or display, but if Google's fall product announcement was any indication, it doesn't have to end there. Google Home$99 at Walmart) speakers
(Image: Western Mail) Android phone and tablet users are being told to delete 15 apps found in the Google Play store after a security alert. Security experts Sophos have warned that the apps
(Image: PA) A security firm has warned phone users to delete 15 potentially harmful apps on their mobiles. Android users are being told delete the popular add-ons, which are available from the Google
Ever since Google purchased fellow map maker Waze in 2013, crowdsourced contribution features have slowly made their way to Maps. We've been seeing this support grow with the ability for users to report things
WASHINGTON: Google subsidiary Wing has become the first company in the United States to deliver packages by drone. In Christiansburg, the small Virginia town chosen as Wing's test location, the 22,000 residents can order products normally
Google's decision to stop supporting its Daydream VR headset seemingly marks the end of phone-based virtual reality, a vision that attempted to combine the use of smartphones with "dumb" VR headsets to bring VR experiences