As a Product Ambassador (and self-proclaimed geek about all things techy), I tend to get excited about certain features or ideas that emerge in the mobile tech arena. Specifically, when we heard at Sprint that we would offer the Pixel 3 series, and that the 3A’s would be our seed devices, my anticipation was solely focused on the idea of running a device with “pure Android”. But what is that… REALLY?
No GUI? Nah… that’s not true at all. It still has to have the same type of interface, but without any of the bells and whistles that Android OEM’s overlay on all of their devices. So what you wont’ see is the Galaxy Store, or the LG Health suite, or the Moto Mod hub.
What I’ve found is that you can’t just run pure Android. It would be like running a C:/ prompt on your Windows machine! So what do we do with this stripped down Android device? We keep a few features that are fundamental to the Android OS, but we don’t brand and bloat those features, outside of reminding everyone that Android IS a Google product, correct?
First thing that came to mind was the fingerprint scanner. It’s on the back. Who puts fingerprint scanners on the back of their handsets? (You can look up the answer if you like… but there’s a pretty major player in the mobile tech arena that’s made a name for themselves with this feature). I think this is more about ergonomics than it is about ‘borrowing’ from someone else. Could have been along the side… could have been a reader on the front… but the reader located on the back seems to make sense ergonomically, and uses space that would otherwise be wasted with branding or just a fancy, textured cover.
Squeeze to activate Google search? We’ve seen other gesture features on other devices, even bendable and foldable devices that allow for this sort of malleable manipulation. So is it borrowed? Sure… we can say that as well.
The camera has a dozen preset modes, which also borrow from some of the other OEMs’ favorite features and gimmicks. My personal favorite is the photo-sphere… makes me feel like a photography expert when I post those 360 degree pix on Facebook. Again… borrowed? Ok. But wait… there seems to be a trend here.
All of these features, gimmicks, tricks, and otherwise exclusively utile aspects of the Pixel are, at their foundation, aspects of mobile device performance that the Android platform is able to support. So my thinking shouldn’t be so much focused on what they’ve “borrowed” from other OEM’s as much as demonstrating what are now key, basic features of Android! Fingerprint reader on the back is just actually fingerprint reader… the biometric integration has become a standard of the Android platform, and any device that does not have biometric security integration is missing something off the bat. The same goes for the camera. OEM’s can put better or worse hardware, or different features or modes, but what Android allows is multiple, high performance camera modes that can be managed on your mobile device and shared out from that device to the world. Even gestures are nothing new. Whether it’s squeeze, or a twist of the wrist, or a double chop to turn on the flashlight, gestures are now a standard feature that is a baseline expectation for all of our mobile device experiences.
Do we have suites of features on the Pixel? Meh… we could argue that Google <<fill in your app here – ie. Mail, maps, movies, play, etc>> is branding, but I think we have to cut Google and Android a break here. Google has always been at the heart of Android. We can’t download any apps without a gmail account, and most of our basic Google features need a @gmail.com ID to enable them. HOWEVER… the Google suite does not manifest on screen as bloatware or adware. It’s basic and fundamental, to allow users to use the core functions of an Android device, and in this case, the Pixel.
So when you purchase you Pixel 3AXL, and you say to yourself ‘Hey… this feature was already on <<Android phone X>>’, don’t forget that these are the basic features and functionality aspects of Android, presented at their basic minimum, to create a PURE Android experience, and not an Android experience brought to you by the OEM. THAT’S the big difference.
Disclaimer: The Product Ambassadors are Sprint employees from many different parts of the company that love technology. They volunteer to test out all sorts of Sprint devices and offer opinions freely to the Community. Each Product Ambassador shares their own opinions of these devices, therefore the information in this post does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sprint. The PA's do not represent the company in an official way, and should not be expected to respond to Community members in an official capacity. #sprintemployee.