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Google's home tat falls flat as a soufflé – but look out Android makers

The thing that other phone manufacturers understand, that Google apparently never will, is that a product design that works for customers should matter more than one that works for google.

Trying to force everyone to only store their data in the cloud by not even having an SD slot clearly drives Google's agenda of datamining everything about you that they can get their hands on, but only the most clueless retards will believe their marketing that any storage method that has extra requirements of needing to be connected and uses mobile data, and takes much longer everytime you want to access something is somehow magically more convenient than having it stored locally right on your phone.

Also making the battery not removable even though it uses technology that has a finite number of recharges is great for google's bottom line (since it means the new phone owners will HAVE to buy a whole new phone every few years) but only the worst kind of sheeple (e.g. apple users) will ignore that as an obvious problem.

Still the Google bean counters are probably happy because you can't count potential sales that your stupid product design lost you, so they can just continue to incorrectly assume it must be zero.

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I hate to break it to you, but most Android manufacturers have been making their batteries inaccessible to users for a few years now, and Apple has never made its batteries replaceable by users.

As for SD card slots, surely that's as much about pushing the cost of storage onto the user as it is denying them the option to personally configure it. I'm pretty sure the 128GB variant of Pixel will be sufficient for most mobile users.

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SD cards are nowhere near as fast as a decent flash implementation. Compare the speeds that the iPhone and Galaxy S7 achieve to their internal storage with the pitiful rates that SD cards are capable of - especially for random data (i.e. an app writing a bunch of small files)

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SD cards and batteries

The fact that Apple and Google both chose to omit SD cards and make batteries un-replaceable doesn't mean either of those things is good. In fact, they are, as others have pointed out here, very bad.

There is no reason—literally, none—to make batteries fixed, unless you are a manufacturer who wants his products to become obsolete so customers will spend more money on another. No amount of drivel from markturds contradicts the fact that it's perfectly possible to make a small, light, waterproof phone with a removable battery. I have one. It's not hard. At most, a fixed battery saves a few cents of manufacturing cost.

An SD slot does NOT offload the cost of storage onto the consumer. It is precisely the opposite. Whereas Apple may charge you an extra £100 for an extra xMb of storage, you can buy the same in almost any shop for less than a fifth of that price. The flexibility of having your own removable storage is always appreciated. And again, it's entirely compatible with waterpoofing (again, I have one, it is IP68) and adds almost nothing to the cost of a phone—it's about an extra 75p for SD slot and interface chip. (Of course, no SD slot means it's easier for Apple and Google to create artificial distinctions between otherwise identical lumps of plastic, and charge you a nosebleed for an "upgrade" differentiation that costs them almost nothing.)

The lack of an SD card (Google's marketurds hilariously lied that having an SD slot was "confusing for customers") is sheer greed, a naked attempt to force customers onto your ecosystem where they and their data can be systematically exploited. This can hardly be a surprise to any sentient human on the planet.

The battery issue is almost more scandalous, given the unnecessary contribution to waste and pollution.

Samsung, who really need to deal with their horrible software planted like briar amongst an otherwise harmless, vanilla Android, have at least done the right thing with SD. If they really want to pull more customers, I hope they'll try (a) return to removable batteries (maybe even the old practice of selling you two in the box, and (b) try different form factors: clamshell is an obvious fit for smartphones.

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The extra 96Gb in the 128Gb version comes at a premium of £100

A 128Gb SD card can be picked up for <£30, 200Gb for £60.

Oh and I already have a 128Gb SD card so for me the premium is £0

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Because of course the SD card is going to be as quick as internal flash. NOT. I've used a class 10 SD card on my phone and notice the apps working noticeably slower on SD rather than internal. This was Kindle and Messenger. I had to take them off in the end.

WHY would you allow people to slow it down.

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Facepalm

Chands wrote:

Because of course the SD card is going to be as quick as internal flash. NOT. I've used a class 10 SD card on my phone and notice the apps working noticeably slower on SD rather than internal.
What crap! It really doesn't matter, just put all your old photos and vast music collection on an SD card, which is plenty fast enough for this, and keep the phones memory for applications which need quicker storage.

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Re: SD cards and batteries

@Milton: removable battery, SD card slot, AND waterproof? What phone do you have?

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Regarding SD cards, I'll throw this other factor on the table: SD cards use FAT. FAT almost certainly triggers Microsoft extortion licensing.

No SD card may alleviate way more than just the component/space costs. It might be very tempting.

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>making the battery not removable ... means the new phone owners will HAVE to buy a whole new phone every few years

This bollocks again. It may not be something you can do on the train on the way home from work (which may be a desirable feature), but it is trivially easy to replace a battery yourself, or pay someone in pretty much every shopping centre or high street to do it for you.

Do you also throw out your car every time it needs a filter changed? Because that's a much harder job to do.

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Well, it may be bollocks to you, but it's a PITA for me. Imported a new battery (official manufacturer doesn't use that shape anymore). Unscrew tiny screws, deal with gunk. Insert new battery.

Find new battery does not charge. Neither does a replacement for the replacement. So yes, car thrown out when I only needed a filter change, because I can't buy a working filter anymore, because I'm not meant to, because it wasn't meant to be replaceable.

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I'm pretty sure the 128GB variant of Pixel will be sufficient for most mobile users.

Nobody will ever need any more than 128GB

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Price and choice.

I think the Pixel phone is just too expensive, a OnePlus 3 would be a sensible choice if you're in the android camp.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Price and choice.

With more people going SIM only and buying the phone hardware separately it does look way overpriced compared to the likes of OnePlus 3. However, for those who buy their phones as part of a bundle with a network contract the pixel won't seem much more expensive than a top of the range Samsung, HTC, or Sony. There are still quite a lot of people in this camp - OnePlus isn't exactly a household name yet.

I think that if Google actually want to sell these (at least in the UK) they're going to have to partner with the mobile networks, not just repeat the direct sales model they used with the nexus series. It'll be interesting to see if they do.

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Re: Price and choice.

+ 1 for the OnePlus, wait.... I'll get my coat

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Devil

You are not a customer, you are a product and you will be sold.

The home tat is complementary to the picture, it has little or no value on its own.

Taken altogether it completes building the unassailable fortress around Google primary source of revenue - spying on you so it can resell it to advertisers. It also goes comes from behind Apple which has been working on home tat for quite a while and overtakes it in this game. Though to be honest, Apple still tries to sell products, not just treat you as a product.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You are not a customer, you are a product and you will be sold.

The home tat is going to upset Amazon's plans for world domination via the echo, but that's about it. The majority of people will ignore both products as being slightly creepy and having no killer feature.

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Anonymous Coward

Maybe it's time other manufacturers should take a second look at Windows 10 Mobile.

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Maybe it's time they looked at cofunding some sort of foundation to steward their preferred open source platform? Ummm, but in a way completely unlike that time they tried that with Symbian.

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Anonymous Coward

They have taken a second look. It's still got next to no 3rd party application support, and it's more unclear than ever whether Microsoft will support it for much longer. If they didn't bother before, there's certainly no reason to start now.

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"We weren't inspired by gadgets. We looked at what people actually wear."

I never knew people wore a cloth covered creel. I've only ever seen the wicker variety and I really don't see the cloth covered version taking off. Besides the electronic data leach won't be very amenable to the damp moss that keeps your catch cool.

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"We weren't inspired by gadgets. We looked at what people actually wear."

I bought a watch about 15 years ago. I paid around £120 and strapped it onto my left wrist. It is solar charged and gets the date wrong regularly. It was cheap and low maintenance - I have to fiddle with it when a month is 30 days. It is accurate - to within a second or two.

What exactly are you flogging? Will it outperform my existing "platform".

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You paid £120 for a watch which doesn't know how many days are in a month. And I should take your opinion seriously for what reason?

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So? You can easily spend a hundred times £120 (and more) on "a watch which doesn't know how many days are in a month", so what's your point?

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"so what's your point?"

Not sure about his, but mine is that my electro-mechanical / electronic hybrid watch bought about two decades ago has had its battery changed all of about four times total, never ever got a date wrong, twice a year when I'm adjusting for DST is always still within the proper minute (I don't care for more precision than that), is tested to be actually waterproof as I never needed to take it off even in a swimming pool, has a dial face so reflective I can just about read the time even in starlight, and costed me all of about a few dozen bucks, bought from a well-known purveyor of cheap commodity watches and musical keyboards. There is no conceivable reason I could think of to justify paying a small fortune for something that cannot possibly be better, and that includes advertisement that I had a small fortune to spend on it.

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Google had perfect timing

With Samsung potentially having round two of their Note 7 PR mess on their hands, a lot of Note 7 buyers will be looking at alternatives. And hey here's a phone that's the same size, same screen, same performance, same price which has a chance of actually getting updates beyond the end of 2017.

I think the Pixel is going to be a hit, not because it converts iPhone buyers but because it steals customers from Samsung!

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WTF?

El Reg has a touch of multiple personality disorder it seems

Just yesterday (or was it the day before?) there was an El Reg article about how amazing all of these new Google appliances were and how they were going to be super successful and could change all of our lives. Obviously by someone who had very much drunk the Koolaid.

Now today we have this article, saying pretty much the opposite.

It's good to get a variety of opinions, but sometimes arguing with yourself in public makes you look crazy...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: El Reg has a touch of multiple personality disorder it seems

This is an editorial piece - It's very much the opinion of the individual writer. Mr Orlowski doesn't seem to be much of a fan of Google, and his opinions reflect that.

The other piece you referred to was by Keiren McCarthy. I wouldn't necessarily say that Mr McCarthy has drunk the (Google) Koolaid, as he states that he's an iPhone user in his other piece specifically about the pixel. I think the upbeat nature of those pieces is more reflective of the the writer suddenly realising that other companies can make stuff just as good as his beloved brand (though most of us have known that for years, frankly).

I think it's good to get different views from the same publication. It makes it easier to correct for each writers biases and pet peeves, and gives you a better overall impression of what's really going on. Far better than having the same party line pushed out by a succession of different authors writing the the same background agenda - but if you prefer that there are plenty of other news outlets which will do it for you.

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Re: El Reg has a touch of multiple personality disorder it seems

This is an Orlowski piece. Pretty much everything he writes is anti-Google (although to be fair, he seems anti-everything, not just Google!)

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The biggest problem with the Pixel phones, and it's almost like Google don't WANT it to succeed, is the price. If they really wanted to disrupt things they would've made it for barely any profit knowing they'd reap the extra cash from ads and data collection. They just don't seem serious.

As for Home: Siri, Cortana, Alexa, Eve, Samatha - these are all names you wouldn't be TOO embarrassed to be seen talking to. "Okay Google" is a name you would. They need to introduce some personality into it, let people name their assistant what they want. This dead eyed corporate Okay Google nonsense is going to get them nowhere.

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They have dumped Nexus users. Nexus users will just get another Android. This doesn't extend Google's reach. They want iPhone users and this is their attempt. They want to expand their users. If i wasn't mistaken they've put some extra work into their data transfer utility that even copies over iMessages ?

Tell me they aren't trying to hook iPhone users (I'm not saying they will or won't succeed, just implying this is their intent).

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AI, my ass

Got a nasty case of postitis today so it's time to shut up, which I'll do on a grateful note: Thank you, ElReg, for mentioning that almost every time "AI" is touted by some lizard or other ... it is absolutely nothing of the kind.

So far as I have been able to tell, everything propagandised as AI today is just execution of algorithms. Fast processing. Parallel processing. Use of neural-net analogues to make runtime choices. Processing that records results of various actions to inform future choices. Introduction of occasional random seeds to provoke "evolution" of different flows and conditions. Processing which allows new algorithms to be instantiated and executed, usually based on recorded experience. I could go on, but ...

No matter what it looks like or how impressive the results (and the Go victory was massively impressive), there is no evidence of intelligence, intuition, imagination or spontaneity. Programmers can be clever, even intelligent. Their programs cannot, yet.

Google and other marketeers say "AI" when they're talking about "Big, big database" and "Flexible algorithms".

Personally, I'll accept AI as a thing when I can interact in real (human) time with a machine which—

* Converses as an intelligent human might do

* Demonstrates exceptional knowledge relevant to the topic

* Gradually divines my own level of intelligence and knowledge and adjusts to that

* Offers opinion which can be backed up with evidence and reason

* Shows awareness of contrary opinion and demonstrates ability to understand why an alternate view might be held, or even might be valid

* Picks up emotional cues, and responds appropriately

* Acts/responds in ways which are to its benefit even if possibly harmful to others, to make its survival more likely, even unto telling lies, fabricating evidence, "playing" my weaknesses

* Demonstrates an unsynthetic sense of humour, i.e. not just telling 'knock knock' jokes but discovering humour and irony in topics which seem prima facie to be devoid of humour, responding to subtle cues of humour, occasionally *surprising itself* with a spontaneous laugh

* Showing appropriate mood, e.g. gravity following humour if the topic is, basically, tragic; with contrition for bad taste, showing respect for others' feelings

* Cringes convincingly at my rotten puns

This will be true AI. It will be clever but not obnoxiously so, charismatic, witty, seductive, helpful, competent, supportive, charming and hugely inspiring of confidence and trust.

And potentially extremely dangerous, of course.

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Fear and Loathing in Android OEMs

"But the least surprising news, that Google is serious about its own brand phones, may well precipitate the long-overdue shake out of Android OEMs. It’s the moment they have been dreading since Google’s first Nexus in 2010. Have a read back to our coverage to get a sense of the fear and loathing:"

What Android OEMs should actually fear is the market realising that only Google phones get proper security updates for the phone's lifetime. The lack of those make battery lifetimes irrelevant. Any phone that no longer gets updates is no use even if the battery is replaceable.

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Anonymous Coward

I was eyeing both the pixal tablet and phone, however, Google seem to be travelling down the route of removing basic functionality they know people like - for example expandable storage. I'm not sure if they are doing this to milk people who'll pay $700 for a phone or in a vain attempt to force its customers into storing data in their cloud so Google can farm it.

I think in the Android space Googles partners can merely out hardware Google by including feature big G seems to not want to give its consumers.

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so what will they sell?

If - as suggested - Samsung, LG and HTC all stop selling Android phones, just what do you think they will replace them with? Apple won't let them have IoS, theres no way they'd sell Windows phones. Whats left? Are you suggesting all three will withdraw from the market?

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Devil

The specs don't match the price

Assuming that ZDNet's hardware specs description of the Google Pixel is correct.

USD $749 for an OK smartphone seems very pricey. I am having trouble seeing the Pixel's hardware specs as anything more than OK. The lack of removable storage and the limitation to 128GB for available internal storage being first and foremost.

How difficult is it, these days, to buy a brand new, factory-unlocked, high quality Android smartphone, on EBay, for less than half the price of a Pixel, and supporting 256GB removable storage?

What exactly is so special about the Pixel to be worth the 100% premium over a Sony or a Samsung? Maybe it's just me, but I can't see it.

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LG love

What sold me on the LG G4 I bought last year was that ticks all my boxes, SD card, removable battery and LTE-Advance (y'know the double speed EE sells), barring waterproof-ness. AND it was 2/3rds the price of the similar but worse-specced Nexus 5X.

Nice to see the crazy LG G5 carrying on the tradition of replaceable batteries and sd-cards, and lifeproof make a proper waterproof case. https://www.lifeproof.com/en-us/lg-g5/fre-for-lg-g5/lpfr-lg-g5.html

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Google Pixel available in China?

Because if its not and I don't think it is, there goes their biggest market. Oppo, Huawei, Apple, Samsung, Vivo, Xiaomi and the rest still have a pretty big and booming playground to play in.

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Erm the Vive doesn't take a day to setup. I got mine and had it running within an hour, longest part was finding the drill to attach the lighthouses to the wall lol

Does need a big pc though if you want it to be good and smooth.

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