Business Essentials for Professionals


Voice on Pixel Phone is the New Approach that Google is Trying Out

Voice on Pixel Phone is the New Approach that Google is Trying Out
Hammering out minute details of its first phone while sitting next to each other at the company's Mountain View, California headquarters, people working on hardware and the voice-activated Google Assistant for the Pixel phone started working together about six months ago.
Alphabet Inc's Google, which crashed Apple Inc's smartphone revolution eight years ago by giving away its Android software and letting handset makers do the rest, is undergoing a much larger shift as is indicated by the new seating arrangement.

Google is experimenting with a different approach - more akin to Apple's tight integration of hardware and software as voice control threatens to replace touch as the primary means of using a hand-held device despite the fact that Google software now runs on 85 percent of the world's smartphones.
Brian Rakowski, vice president of product for Google’s Android operating system said that the Pixel's hardware and Assistant teams have already received a prototype for the camera on next year's phone and they gather for happy hour every Friday.
Making the company's voice-powered digital assistant better than rivals such as Apple’s Siri and Microsoft Corp’s Cortana is their ambition.
“We really wanted the Assistant on the phone to feel like a natural extension of the ways you ask Google for information,” Rakowski said in an interview. 
Key to that goal is the fusion of hardware and software. Certain specifications such as a well-placed microphone and a powerful processor to crunch reams of data are crucial for a high-performing assistant.
Creating an app isn't enough; that requires a few clicks for users to get to it.
A graphic which Rakowski called a "whimsical touch to give a little bit of life to the home button” and one which appears when users call up the assistant, settling on a flurry of colorful dots, are some of the details that the hardware and software teams worked closely on.

The Assistant can be summoned by pressing the home button or saying the words “OK Google” and is always at the ready on the Pixel phone.
Charles Jolley, chief executive of Ozlo, which offers a digital assistant by the same name, said that Google “doesn’t have to do negotiations with another handset maker – they can make it as tight as they want,” by integrating the Assistant into the Pixel.
The Assistant will live only on Google products such as the Pixel, at least for now to make sure users get the best possible experience.
Whether Google will try to push the product out to the millions of smartphones running on other manufacturers' Android phones, at the risk of offering a slightly lower-quality experience or whether it will keep it that way when considered in the long term, however, is unclear.
A close level of integration with handset makers, beyond the typical work that happens on the Android operating system would be required to make sure the Assistant works well on other phones, Rakowski said.
"We want all these features of the Assistant to work well and work quickly and be nicely integrated so it gives the right idea of what the Assistant can do," he said "We don't want it to feel limited or bolted on in any way."

Christopher J. Mitchell

Markets | Companies | M&A | Innovation | People | Management | Lifestyle | World | Misc