Google held its Pixel 3 event yesterday and the company announced a slew of new products -- the new Pixel 3 phones, the Pixel Stand, the Google Home Hub, and the Pixel Slate. But it wasn't all about the hardware. The event's focus on the synergy between AI, hardware and software produced plenty of software surprises!
Some of these features are so innovative and fresh that it will be inevitable that Apple and Samsung will follow suit. The tech industry is a copycat world, after all.
Here are five of the coolest things we've spotted that will surely be imitated on future flagship smartphones!
1. Call Screen
Here's a new Pixel feature that should make it to other smartphones. It's called Call Screen and it allows Pixel phones to screen and answer your phone calls with Google Assistant. It even provides a real-time transcription of the phone conversation. This is basically like having your own robot secretary. Imagine not having to pick up another spam or robocall again!
Here's how it is supposed to work: When a call comes in, you can have Google Assistant pick up the call instead. Assistant will then tell the caller that they're speaking with Google's AI and carry on a real-time conversation. We still don't know how well this works in practice, but Google's demo sure was impressive. In the future, expect Siri and Bixby to learn similar capabilities.
2. Top Shot
This always happens, right? You prime up for a candid shot but you can never ever seem to capture the perfect moment.
Enter the Pixel 3's new feature called Top Shot. It's an AI-assisted system that takes a rapid succession of shots and then automatically picks the best one possible.
You could say that iPhones can already do this with Live Photos, but the difference is that this technique will use machine learning to automatically suggest the best photo from the lot. This will hopefully eliminate awkward closed-eyes photos, sudden photobombs, and missed action shots.
3. Night Sight
Again with the aid of machine learning, Night Sight aims to automatically enhance low-light photos by selecting the right brightness, exposure, detail and color.
Smartphones (and other digital cameras) will always struggle with low-light situations and Night Sight will hopefully address that. Judging by Google's comparison shots with the iPhone XS, the results can be striking.
If the Night Sight effect is significantly better than any other low-light shots that other smartphones can muster then other phone makers should take note. Apple and Samsung currently have comparable noise reduction and software filters on their phones right now, but they're not as advanced as this.
4. Super Res Zoom
If you've ever tried digital zooming on your smartphone, you know that it can be ugly and terribly grainy. Google wants to change that with a new camera called the Super Res Zoom.
Super Res Zoom is a software-based digital zooming system that replicates the noise-free images of optical zoom without the actual hardware. With the help of machine-learning (notice the pattern here?) and the new dedicated Pixel Visual Core chip, this feature aims to parse out the noise and the blur of zoomed in shots. By the looks of it, Google is extremely confident with this technology that it stuck with a single lens rear camera system on the Pixel 3.
Apple and Samsung have telephoto lenses in their flagship phones, but extreme zooming can still get grainy, so we're expecting them to improve on their digital zooming algorithms in the future.
5. Dual-lens front camera
Bucking the rear dual-lens camera trend, the new Pixels may have retained the 12.2-megapixel camera on the rear but here's something new -- Google doubled the front side cameras instead!
This dual-lens front camera system allows for a wider view and bigger vantage point, which is perfect for group selfies or for capturing more of the scenery behind you. Google claims that the Pixel 3's selfie camera can capture 184% more real estate than the iPhone XS's front camera.
If the wider view proves to be invaluable for selfie-taking, Apple and Samsung will ultimately take note and they could implement a similar front dual-camera system in future iterations of their smartphones. It's a pretty good idea!
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