The last decade has seen an almost unprecedented change in how people view and use mobile phones. Just think about it, a decade ago, a mobile phone was this bulky device with a small screen and ugly little physical buttons. Mobile phones now are something else entirely. The last decade was dominated with hardware innovation. The next decade, it seems, will be shaped by software innovation, or more specifically, artificial intelligence. And no phone makes this more apparent than Google’s Pixel line.
Looking at the new Pixel 3, it becomes immediately clear that hardware is not Google’s strongest area. The hardware is fairly typical- the same latest processor, a horrendous notch up front, and wireless charging. In short, everything that you expect a high end phone to have in 2018. But what makes the Pixel 3 standout is its biggest asset- the AI.
The Pixel 3 is loaded with various AI quirks, and impressively, they aren’t run from the cloud, but locally. That makes saving on power, saving on data, and a greater ability to pull of more advanced features.
Take the new Screen Call feature. This feature allows you to tap and have your voice chat assistant to answer a call that you’re getting and chat with them on your behalf. You ask the questions, and the assistant relays it to the caller. The immediate, faultless transcription of what both the parties say is extremely impressive. Having AI run locally, from our hands, helps with this real time transcription.
Then, of course, there’s the Google Lens. Google Lens is cloud based, and it is an image analysing service. Put a business card in front of the camera, and the Lens will identify the name, the phone number, it will grab the address and give an option to open it in Google Maps.
Talking of the camera, there’s where most of Google’s AI lies. That is what makes Pixel 3’s camera simply the best smartphone camera in the world. There’s the new TopShot feature that makes the camera grab photos just before and after you press the shutter button. These frames are at a lower resolution, but with the help of AI, the Pixel’s camera merges the better content from the low res “backup” photo incase the high res photo is “lousy”.
Something similarly magical happens with nightmode too. The camera takes multiple shots again, and combines all the brightest bits into a single image to give excellent exposure in low light conditions.