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What I learned using only Google products

Mike Elgan | May 27, 2013
Here are 10 shocking things I learned using only a Chromebook Pixel, Nexus 10, Nexus 4 and all-Google software and services.

The right kind of Android phone (and most are not the right kind) can give you a "wheeee!" feeling every time you use it as you seamlessly and rapidly shift gears from Now to Search to Gmail to Google+ to Hangouts to Calendar and back. A simple gesture (which I can do even without looking at the phone) launches Google Now. I say "Google," then "navigate to Starbucks," "launch Gmail," "post on Google+" or "play 'Get Lucky' by Daft Punk" (which I don't own and which is not on the phone but which plays anyway from YouTube).

The ability to launch and interact with Google services and converse with Google's giant machine brain in natural language is the best overall experience in mobile right now.

Apple offers the best hardware, but a compromised experience with using Google and other services. This is especially problematic with Google Now which on iPhone is limited in features. For example, you can't launch apps or initiate use with voice alone.

The only exception to this primacy of services is camera quality, which is very important to me. After using the iPhone's excellent camera, I would not be willing to use a Nexus 4 because the much lower picture quality is a deal breaker.

8. Google makes the best Android phone experience. Companies that make the better Android phones, such as Samsung, HTC, Acer, Sony and others, create their own user interfaces, which are inferior in my opinion to the one Google puts on its own Nexus phone, specifically in the accessibility and integration of Google services.

This has been the central conundrum in the Android handset space. The best hardware and the best user interface are never on the same phone.

This will change soon. Google announced recently that an unlocked "Google Edition" of the Samsung Galaxy S4 would become available on the Play Store on June 26 for $649. Rumors are also circulating that the HTC One will be released in a "Google Edition" version.

9. Google's integration is the killer app. Google offers a dizzying range of Internet-based services. Some are mediocre, some are as good as the best competitors, and others are far better than anything else out there (examples include Google Now, Google Maps, Google+ (new Gmail search). But Google's increasing integration of these services is becoming a compelling advantage. The ability to, say, launch turn-by-turn directions on Maps from Now, to search Drive from Gmail and the way Google Now reads your Gmail to give you reminders makes all the integrated services more powerful and usable.

10. It's easy to use nothing but Google products. You can't get the ultimate mobile computing experience by using nothing but Google products, but it's possible and enjoyable to do so. I had a lot of fun with this experiment.


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