Andy Rubin unveils Essential Phone

Android’s creator, Andy Rubin, has been teasing his next big project for a while now, and today he finally unveiled everything: his new company Essential has a new smartphone, an Amazon Echo-like device with its own operating system, and a few accessories. Just another company trying to break into the smartphone market, surely, were it not for the creator of Danger and Android at the helm.

The phone has all the latest and greatest specifications, including an almost bezelless screen. It makes an interesting design choice by placing the front camera inside the screen at the top, which I’m sure most people will either not care about or deeply hate. I want to see the whole thing in person first, but I like that they at least try to ‘own’ this design choice. Another rather unique element is the ceramic back, which is a material choice we’ll probably see more of over the coming years.

Of particular note: the company is hinting at using stock Android, with fast updates. I’ve seen those promises before, so I’m not exactly taking them at face value when I hear them for the 1038th time.

Their Amazon Echo competitor, the Essential Home, has a screen and sports its own operating system, but the company doesn’t have a whole lot to say about it other than some marketing fluff, such as this:

Ambient OS is the API to your home that enables the creation of applications that extend the reach of a single device. For example, you can setup a timer and have the lights in the livingroom flash when it goes off. With the Ambient OS API, developers have access to available devices, services, and home information and can use these resources as the building blocks of their applications.

So probably Android with some custom API bits on top. They do state they are focusing on privacy, doing the AI and API bits on-device instead of in the cloud – which is a plus for me, but I’m not sure normal people really care too much about this at all.

In Rubin’s blog post announcing the company and its devices, he has some… Interesting words to say about what Android has become.

For all the good Android has done to help bring technology to nearly everyone it has also helped create this weird new world where people are forced to fight with the very technology that was supposed to simplify their lives. Was this what we had intended? Was this the best we could do?

Is it just me, or is Rubin not happy with who his child has become?


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