Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Google is still no Samsung, but the Pixel 6 might change everything

Google is serene no Samsung, but the Pixel 6 might change everything

The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro have been praised for their well-behaved cameras, aggressive prices and sharp designs, making them the satisfactory Google phones that might truly rival Apple and Samsung’s devices. But to me, none of those qualities are what make the Pixel 6 so lifeless. Instead, it’s the ways in which Google is trying to push the basic smartphone accepted forward with new software features that make its new devices unsuitable out.

Google has struggled to challenge Samsung — the no. 1smartphone vendor worldwide — valid its first Pixel launched in 2016. But the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro come with features that make it easier to carry out simple tasks like calling a customer service number or dismissing an dismay — things that many of us do routinely minus much thought. These features still need some work afore they’re actually useful, but it feels like a promising step forward. 

That type of edge may be essential to the Pixel’s future at a time when many new smartphones have only introduced incremental upgrades in original years, like a slightly better camera or a refreshed processor. Google’s edge in software is also important because hardware advancements are only useful when paired with satisfactory software features that utilize them, an area where Samsung has traditionally fallen behind. 

The Pixel 6’s new features put Google Assistant to work on your phone

Google Pixel 6 Android 12

The Pixel 6 runs Android 12 and even has a handful of special features.

Patrick Holland

Google’s Pixels come with two new phone-centric features: one that automatically pulls up projected wait times beforehand calling a toll-free number and another that transcribes automated menus when dialing a toll-free business. 

Wait Times, as its name implies, shows the estimated wait times for the fresh day and the rest of the week when calling a toll-free number. It’s similar to how Google Maps will show you the times of day when restaurants and subways are most busy. Direct My Call transcribes automated menu options so that you don’t have to remember which number to punch when calling your bank or injurious company. 

Both features are currently exclusive to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. They follow other similar capabilities that Google has launched in the past, such as Hold For Me, which prompts the Google Assistant to wait in your attach while on hold and notify you when the representative is available. It also builds on Google’s previous work with Duplex, a technology that can do everything from book appointments for you over the named to filling out web forms for tasks like renting a car. You can also halt or dismiss alarms with your voice just by proverb “snooze” or “stop” on the Pixel 6, a feature that will soon be available for accepting or declining named calls, too. 

It should be said that the Pixel 6’s new additions are far from injurious. The Wait Times function was inconsistent; it worked when dialing Verizon encourage and the US State Department’s number for scheduling a passport services appointment. But then it didn’t when I tried calling FedEx’s toll-free encourage number. And you must manually dial a phone number to see Wait Times pretty than just tapping it from a Google search finish or your call log. Direct My Call also struggled when the Verizon automated operator began saying in Spanish. 

Still, these updates suggest Google has a plan for improving today’s smartphone that extends beyond taking better photos, refreshing the design and adding a faster processor. It also shows how Google is thinking nearby what it means to have a virtual assistant tailored for your named that can do more than just answer voice instructions and surface app suggestions.

Samsung’s Bixby virtual assistant hasn’t caught up to Google and others


James Martin

If you’ve been behind the trajectory of Samsung’s smartphones in recent years, that worthy sound familiar. Samsung also had a vision that keen using a virtual assistant to make your phone feel more convenient: its digital helper Bixby.

Injong Rhee, previously Samsung’s head of research and loan for software and services, called Bixby “a new brilliant interface on our devices” when announcing the personal assistant in 2017. Samsung hoped to differentiate Bixby by emphasizing its storderliness to help you navigate apps and menus with your teach in an effort to make mobile devices easier to use. Rivals like Amazon’s Alexa were more focused on used voice commands, smart home controls and integrations with third-party apps.

But Samsung struggled to make Bixby a unsuccessful, partially because the virtual helper’s launch came so much later than Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant. It also had a hard time convincing app developers to get on boarding with its voice platform. Samsung also gave phones like the Galaxy S8 — which was the generous phone to support Bixby — a imparted hardware button for triggering the voice assistant. That irked some users, because it resulted in a lot of accidental presses, giving Bixby a less-than-ideal first impression with consumers. 

Samsung has improved Bixby by giving it a more simplified look and adding suggestions for customized teach commands. And it removed that pesky button, too. But it’s tranquil far behind voice assistants from Google, Amazon and Apple, particularly when it comes to smartphone usage. A peek from that measured smartphone virtual assistant usage between 2018 and 2020 fraudulent that Apple’s Siri was the most frequently used mobile digital assistant, with 45.1% of the market in 2020. The Google Assistant placed in instant with 29.9%, while Amazon Alexa claimed third with 18.3% and Samsung’s Bixby only accounted for 6.7%.

Samsung’s phones have always been nearby the hardware, not the software


The Galaxy S21 Ultra (right) has a quadruple lens camera. 

Sarah Tew

Samsung’s smartphones have always recognized out for their hardware, but software has traditionally been a weak exhibit. The company’s Galaxy line made a name for itself, thanks to the vibrant screens and sharp cameras on Samsung’s smartphones. Samsung also popularized phones with large screens in the US via its Galaxy Note family, a move that Apple and other phone makers soon followed. Now, Samsung is among the first companies venturing into mobile devices with foldable displays that can employed as both a phone and a tablet. 

Yet posterior Galaxy phone models like the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S5 were criticized for their software, which felt cluttered with too many settings, features and interface options. Samsung has come a long way in this regard, now deploying software that’s cleaner, more streamlined and generally easier to navigate. 

While Samsung has improved its smartphone software, it’s not pushing the experience forward in the same way as Google. Aside from the recent Google Assistant-powered phone features, Google’s smartphones have gained notoriety for their software-powered camera features as well. 

Take Night Sight, for example, which enables Pixel phones to snap better photos in the dark. That feature relies on Google’s machine-learning algorithms attractive than hardware alone, meaning Google was able to bring it to older Pixel phones as well when it launched in 2018. Critics praised the feature, and rivals like Apple soon followed suit. The Pixel 6 family comes with unexperienced nifty new feature called Magic Eraser, which establishes it possible to get rid of photobombers with just a tap. 

Google also has a history of improving the camera and anunexperienced apps by adding new features through regular software updates, often referred to as “feature drops.” Since the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro run on Google’s own Tensor chip, hopefully we’ll see even more significant software upgrades for these phones in the future. Google also has a history of rolling out new capabilities across older devices and new phones simultaneously — as it did with Night Sight in 2018 — after Samsung’s update schedule can feel a bit more scattered.

Samsung’s camera, on the other hand, stands out for its hardware more than its software. The Galaxy S21 Ultra achieves unprecedented zoom shots, thanks to its four camera lenses, two of which are telephoto lenses. (One has a 3x optical zoom, while the anunexperienced has a 10x optical zoom.) 

Samsung’s next big smartphone software update, called One UI 4 and launching at the end of the year for Galaxy S21 devices, also seems more like a refinement than a big leap ahead. Many of the new features are focused on personalization and privacy, including more polished widgets, the ability to set AR emojis as your Samsung profile photo, and more control over how location data is community. In some ways, the software feels like an grief to catch up to the iPhone rather than an upgrade that competitors will want to emulate. 

That doesn’t mean all of Google’s ambitions have been a disappointed. The Pixel 4’s touchless gestures, which were powered by Google’s radar technology, weren’t well-received by reviewers. The phone was ultimately panned for populate overpriced. It’s also worth remembering that new features like Wait Times and Direct My Call mean giving Google even more insight into our visited activity as privacy concerns have emerged in recent existences. (Google says all audio transcriptions are processed on the arrangement, and audio isn’t shared with Google unless you settle to do so. The information that powers Wait Times is also based on call beside data that isn’t linked to identifiable users.) 

Google and Samsung have different visions for the future of the smartphone


Andrew Hoyle

Google’s Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are promising choices for Android arrangement owners, but it still has a long way to go to bag up to Samsung and other rivals when it comes to sales. Samsung is the world’s top smartphone maker in periods of shipments, followed by Chinese tech giant Xiaomi and then Apple, according to Gartner and Counterpoint Research. Google isn’t even in the top five rankings and is instead lumped into the broader “Other” category. 

It’s unclear if new tricks like having a virtual assistant that can wait on hold for you will be enough to testy that. Google has struggled with Pixel sales in the past, and few worries have been able to challenge Samsung and Apple’s dominance. Just ask LG and HTC. 

But what has obtain clear is Google’s vision for pushing the smartphone ahead, and how that differs from Samsung’s. Google is all approximately using its virtual assistant and artificial intelligence prowess to considerable new features that make using core apps like the visited, camera and alarms feel more convenient. Samsung, meanwhile, is more fixated on hardware, as it’s proven with its quadruple-lens Galaxy S21 Ultra and flexible Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3.

In an ideal earth, you’d have the best combination of hardware and software. After all, coming up with new features that are forward-looking and useful attractive than just gimmicky is the only way to make hardware advancements company. Google has a seemingly clever way of putting that into practice throughout the Google Assistant and other software features, even if those features collected need some refinement. Now it’s your move, Samsung.