With its new Pixel 2 smartphone and Home smart speaker products, Google is taking a page from Apple’s playbook, and in more ways than one.
All you need do is tally the individual features Google announced at its Pixel 2 event on Wednesday, then consider the company’s broader hardware strategy. Apple may rarely be first to debut new technology, focusing instead on crafting ideal versions of devices like smartwatches or augmented reality toolkits. But it likes to think of itself as first to persuade buyers the time is ripe to dive in.
Google seems to be following a similar path, giving existing ideas its signature touch. While the search giant debuted a few surprises, going so far as to mimic Apple’s breathless “one more thing” tagline, it focused on all the ways it believes it’s breathing new life into the smartphone and smart speaker categories.
Here’s a breakdown of three things Google just announced that bear a striking resemblance to recent Apple product features.
When Google demonstrated the Pixel 2’s new camera on stage, it highlighted a specific capability that allows the phone to capture a few moments of video when snapping a photo. The effect allows photos some animation wiggle room, similar to the Live Photos feature Apple debuted with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus in 2015. Google refers to the new feature as Motion Photos.
Apple’s Portrait Mode, which the company debuted on the iPhone 7 Plus last year, is becoming increasingly popular on Android phones. Samsung announced in August that its Galaxy Note 8 would have a similar feature, and now Google’s touting its own version with the Pixel 2.
Portrait Mode is an iPhone feature that uses the phone’s two cameras to subtly blur the background of a photo so that the subject in the foreground appears sharper. The Pixel 2, by contrast, only requires one camera to apply depth effects to an image since it uses artificial intelligence software. (Samsung’s smartphones also require two cameras to create similar photos.) Like the iPhone X, Google’s new Pixel 2 phones can also capture selfies in Portrait Mode.
Audio That Automatically Adjusts
Google’s new Home Max speaker distinguishes itself by dynamically adjusting its acoustics based on its surroundings. That also happens to be what makes Apple’s HomePod speaker stand apart from its competitors. The Siri-powered music player, which Apple unveiled at its developer conference in June, can automatically adapt its sound based on its proximity to the listener and where it’s located in the room.
While that may not be exactly the same as the Home Max’s Smart Sound functionality, the two features were created with the same goal in mind. Google’s Smart Sound feature, which the company says is powered by artificial intelligence, also optimizes its sounds based on where it’s been placed within a room. Both the HomePod and Google Home Max will launch in December.