Hey Google, where have you gone?

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As a person who likes to “tinker”, new technology draws me like a fly to honey. Back in the early days of cellphones, I wanted the latest/greatest that was available and modifying those devices was not possible. So, I would buy each new phone that came to market. However, before I was buying cellphones, another product came to market.

Apple had my attention with the first iPod. 

ipod-626671_640In 2001, I spent $400 dollars and bought my first iPod. After some Internet searching I learned that I could “Jailbreak” the iPod to access additional features and tweaks. I went to work! Then, at some point in the process, the screen went black and the device would not turn on. Yep, I felt sick but I went right back to work figuring out if I could get the device up and running again. After some time, the device came on and… I immediately killed it again. Did I feel sick? Nope. I felt a accomplished. I felt like I was doing something that others were afraid to do! After this experience, any iProduct that I purchased, I immediately performed the Jailbreak procedure.

icon-1971128_640Fast forward to 2010 when Google and its Android operating system became known to me. Android was described platform that would give users control over their devices. No more would we be tied to what cellphone manufactures and service providers wanted us to experience. We, the users, would be in control of our cellphone experiences. We would have app stores and be able to add/remove content from the phones at our leisure. Even better, the person who wanted to explore app development or dig into the phone just to see what it could do would have access. My thoughts: ” Yes, please!”

When the HTC Evo became available, I ran to purchase it. There would be apps and an app store and I would be able to select the apps that I wanted on my phone. In comparison to phones today, the Evo was junk but innovative for its time. Below, notice that the battery specs meant nothing to the reviewer and a cable was required to stream video to a TV. Just look at these specs:

  • 8 megapixel camera with dual flash.
  • 1.3 megapixel front facing camera.
  • Can record videos in 720p.
  • HDMI output so you can stream directly to your TV
  • 1 gb processor, 512 ram, 1gb internal storage + 8 gb storage card
  • 1500 mAH battery, whatever that means.
  • Android Operating System 2.1
  • 4.3″ (800×400) Touchscreen
  • Kick Stand
  • Tad smaller than an ipad
  • 4G in some cities, Los Angeles later this year.
  • Face to face talk with 3 or 4G. No Wi-Fi network required

The Evo, running Android, was exactly what I had been waiting for and I have never looked back. I purchased one phone after another, with each one offering a better user experience and more freedom than the one that came before. I anxiously awaited each new Android announcement and praised Google for how it was forcing an industry to innovate.

Google has always supported the user.

Google has always said the user is their focus.

For over a year, I have used the Nexus 6P, Google’s Android phone and I have nothing but great things to say. Today, I received my new Google Pixel 2 XL phone. I did not go to the store to “check it out” nor did I look at many reviews because I knew that I would love the phone because Google “made” it. To my surprise, out of the box…

I DID NOT LOVE THE PIXEL 2 XL.

 

Pixel 2 XL Blue Tint

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The blue screen tint that has been talked about is really F’d up! I changed the setting and can certainly live with it but, Hey Google, how did this even make it out of testing? No one sees this color naturally, it is in no way pleasing to look at, and it is visible all the time, not only when one tilts the screen.

Next, at the bottom of the home screen sits Google Search. Well, why do I need this on the home screen when I can just say, Hey/Okay Google or squeeze the phone to search? So, I performed a “long press” to remove it and NOTHING happens. I try repeatedly to no avail. I performed a Google search and discovered, this item CANNOT be removed unless I install a launcher to replace the Google launcher.

Wait a minute!

Google/Android is all about the user experience. Google phones are “vanilla” Android. Why do I have to install an app to get rid of a feature that I do not want. This is what I would have to do on any other branded cellphone because those manufactures want to force me to use their apps/tools and eventually, they believe, I will come to like them.

Let’s take a moment to revisit events that came to light in November/December 2017. Google and Amazon could not come to an agreement on Amazon selling
Google products (loose interpretation) and in response, Google stopped the You Tube app from working on Amazon products. Yes, a true story. The company that is all about the user experience and offers You Tube for free, everywhere, has started acting like the typical corporation. The user experience is no longer #1. An ex Google employee has even written about it.

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As Google creates and sells more devices, it seems the company is focusing on the bottom line more than the user experience. If Amazon won’t sell Google devices, then Google will pull their FREE product, You Tube, which punishes the user, not Amazon. Amazon quickly created a workaround that Google deactivated. No one can blame Amazon because no one has been told that Amazon is anything but a business. The only similarity between the two companies are the humble beginnings of both.

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It is my opinion that if Google is torn between focusing on the user experience and selling it wares for a profit, perhaps, Google should separate them into two distinct businesses. Those things that are free, for everyone, that keep the user experience in the forefront should be left alone. These items include Vanilla Android phones and You Tube. Based on the foundation on which Google was built, Android phones and standard You Tube should be available for everyone, regardless of Google’s need to make a profit. If an item is for sale, Google devices, You Tube Red, Google Play Music, then by all means, Google should restrict access to those. However, based on my knowledge of the Amazon fight and my current phone experience, Google seems to be creating a very murky grey, which is going to isolate users who have been longstanding supporters of Google/Android.

If I buy a Google Phone and have to download an app to make it do what I need, how is that different from buying a Samsung phone that is cheaper? If I cannot access You Tube directly using my Amazon devices, why would I bother using You Tube or remain loyal to Google and buy additional devices. Amazon can get me what I need without issues. I hope that Google will rethink their current strategy and put the user experience back where it belongs.

Hey Google, What are you going to do?

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