Google Pixel/Pixel XL review: The best of Android with uninspired hardware

Speaking of Google Assistant, that’s the company’s new smart AI system that will continue to compete with the likes of Siri and Cortana. She’s smart, but still has a long way to go. For one, I found that the phone wasn’t very good at hearing me say “Ok Google” or execute commands. To test my theory, I had the Google Pixel and an unlocked Moto Z side-by-side in the room. The Moto Z was able to hear and understand my commands far better than the Pixel, which sometimes just got half of my query.

I ran into some trouble in the car, too. While driving, GPS locked up once for about 10 minutes, something I don’t normally run into in my area. Google Assistant allows you to dig deep, too, so you can ask her for a restaurant and then, if you have a third party app like OpenTable installed, book a table. Siri’s capable of this sort of command, too, and neither work that well. It’s almost always faster to just open the OpenTable application, as neat as it seems to do something by voice.

Google Assistant is also supposed to work with Philips Hue bulbs, though I couldn’t get it to work in my experience, even after pairing it with my Hue Hub. A query to “turn on the attic lights” played a song called “attic lights” on Google Music. Maybe this functionality is coming later?

Google Assistant is good for other things, though. You can ask “how tall is the Empire state building,” for example. She’ll return the results. Then you can continue the query with something like “where is it located?” without naming the actual building, and Google will provide you the address. This is where Google Assistant shines over competitors, in contextual awareness.

She’s not perfect, but this is where artificial intelligence is heading, and I have a feeling Google will learn a lot once Assistant is in the hands of Pixel owners.

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