Google has officially unveiled its latest line of “AI First” products, including the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones. In a saturated smartphone economy, Google is competing against not only its biggest rival, Apple, but ironically, other Android phones, as well.
Gartner reported that 86 percent of all smartphones sold in the first quarter of 2017 ran Android, compared to 13 percent that ran iOS. While that bodes well for Google—especially after acquiring part of HTC’s smartphone team in September—Google phones haven’t even made the list so far.
Pixel 2’s Helpful AI
To make its shiny, new smartphones stand out, Google is focusing on the smart and not the phone part of its name. Ahead of the big event, video ads across the web promoted its video chat app Google Duo instead. Making calls on the Pixel 2 is implied, so the brand glossed over this function during the reveal and instead appeals to the hustle and bustle lifestyle of today’s young consumer.
The Pixel 2 offers up-to-the-minute updates on a user’s schedule without unlocking the phone and Google’s continuously learning AI assistant, which is available to inform, remind and will even cast messages to a Google Home device.
Discovery Boosts Buying Power
Discovery is a growing trend for e-commerce, and Google may be tapping into this market with its Google Lens. The imaging software recognizes text, images and people, and uses machine learning to identify, elaborate or utilize the desired information. While the Made By Google event did not specifically demonstrate a link to purchases, the implications are obvious.
Pinterest and Amazon are also utilizing image recognition with AI, although the desired effect, like funneling discovery into purchases, is much more obvious in their presentation to consumers. Google, instead, frames its technology from the angle of being helpful whether a consumer hopes to buy or just to learn through the information provided.
Even the Pixel 2’s locked home screen detects music and displays the artist and title, offering an additional way in which YouTube can build (and repair) its relationship with the music industry.
Millennials On The Go
The Pixel 2 is also designed for the traveler. Previously, those planning a trip might take the time to learn the local language, but Pixel Buds—Google’s answer to Apple AirPods—act as an automatic translator in 40 different languages. As brands rethink their strategies to appeal to millennials on the go, this feature could come in handy.
In addition to local weather, translation and Google Lens, the Pixel phone is marketed heavily to the photographer. While a number of examples were shown of everyday life, the most stunning photos were always captured while traveling.
Rather than say the Pixel works great for millennial travelers, Google showed it by teaming up with Instagram influencer Tim McGurr, aka 13thWitness. McGurr was tasked with shooting a trip to New Orleans. The footage shown during Google’s event was captured entirely on the new Pixel 2 without rigs, attachments or photo enhancement.
To encourage as much photo-taking as possible, Google is offering its Pixel users unlimited storage on the cloud, including 4K video.
Keeping Up With The Joneses
Google focused its marketing efforts on innovation and making things simpler, but also took cues from its competition. Augmented reality stickers, eliminating the earphone jack and biometric security are just some of the ways Google is implementing competitor features with a twist.
Apple may be doing a lot with AR, but Google still has the advantage of virtual and mixed realities. The smartphone-enabled Daydream VR headset has been updated to Daydream View with better optics, over 250 VR apps and a partnership with IMAX to watch select 3D movies for free.
The internet giant hasn’t cornered the market just yet but may stand a chance if it can keep up with manufacturing demand.