Software Announcements Take Center Stage at Google Pixel 8 Series Launch Event

  • Google’s latest smartphones hop aboard the AI train with impressive new differentiating features like Best Take.
  • Google announced seven years of OS updates and security patches, making it the market leader among major brands.
  • The Pixel Watch 2 packs upgraded hardware and tighter integration with Fitbit.

Google-Pixel -8-vs-Pixel-7-specs

On October 4, Google announced its latest smartphone lineup, the Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, along with the new Pixel Watch 2. While the devices featured modest hardware upgrades, the major announcements from the event centered around Google’s new AI features and its extended support for devices, both of which could have major ripple effects on the smartphone market. Here are some of the takeaways from the Google event:

  • One of the biggest announcements of the event was Google’s new device support plan where it will offer seven years of OS updates, security patches, and AI feature drops. Previously, Google only offered them for three years. This is the longest duration of device support offered by a major smartphone OEM and will likely push competitors to offer even longer device support. This will be a huge benefit for the refurbished market, giving these devices an even longer life cycle on the software front. It could also be a huge opportunity for the US prepaid market where Apple has seen great success in 2023 through promotions on devices as old as the iPhone 11, which are still relevant due to their software support. Google could follow suit by offering older Pixel devices at a steep discount to prepaid consumers.
  • Google’s latest suite of AI-powered features could be a major differentiator for its devices. Google announced new features such as Best Take, Magic Editor, Audio Eraser and Assistant with Bard, which allow users to get the best photo every time, delete unwanted background noise in audio recordings, and have an intelligent assistant that can summarize a user’s inbox, write them a grocery list, and respond intelligently to text messages. These features are significant innovations that will improve the user experience and potentially draw more consumers to Pixel devices. However, it should be noted that Google has made some of its AI features, such as Magic Eraser, available to Google One members regardless of OS, which could dampen its ability to draw users to Pixel devices. In fact, Google has already announced that Assistant with Bard will be available to iPhone users with Google One memberships later this year.
  • Google announced that the Pixel 8 Pro will feature a temperature sensor that can be used to measure the temperature of baby feeding bottles, pans while cooking, and even body temperature, pending FDA approval. Is a thermometer app going to be the factor that convinces a Samsung Galaxy or iPhone user to leave their ecosystem and purchase a Pixel 8 Pro? Probably not. Is it a useful feature? Absolutely.
  • The rest of the hardware upgrades on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are incremental. The new smartphones feature Google’s latest Tensor G3 chipset, which is even more efficient in running machine learning models on the devices. The upgraded camera systems are even better at taking low-light photos and videos, building on Google’s camera prowess. Google has also launched a 1TB version of the Pixel 8 Pro for power users. Peak display brightness has also been improved, with the Pixel 8 Pro reaching up to 2400 nits of brightness and the Pixel 8 reaching 2000 nits, which should improve the user experience on sunny days. Decent improvements but nothing revolutionary. The same can be said about the overall design of the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro – no major changes. Consumers may be disappointed in the $100 increase for both models over the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro due to the modest hardware upgrades, but the software upgrades more than justify the increase.
  • The Pixel Watch 2 features some major hardware upgrades over the original Pixel Watch including Qualcomm’s Snapdragon W5 SoC, bringing improved performance and power efficiency that allows users to wear their device all day and all night on a single charge, even with the always-on display. Google also upgraded its heart rate sensor, which uses multiple LEDs over a wider area of a user’s wrist, producing a heart rate reading that is up to 40% more accurate.
  • The Pixel Watch 2 comes with even more wellness and safety features. The Pixel Watch 2 is more tightly integrated with Fitbit, helping not only to improve the new smartwatch’s health-tracking algorithms but also to provide new features like Body Response, which can point to signs of stress based on heart rate, heart rate variability and skin temperature. It can even suggest remedies like guided breathing.
    Additionally, the Pixel Watch 2 brings new safety features like Medical ID and Safety Check. Medical ID allows users to display medical info on their watch and share it with emergency responders during calls, helping convey vital information during emergencies. Safety Check lets users choose an activity and when they expect it to be done. Once the activity is complete and the user has not checked back in, the Pixel Watch 2 will automatically send the user’s location to their contacts on Google Maps, letting them know where their friend or loved one is.

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