Google Reveals Pixel Design Secrets

I notice something when people identify smartphones. The iPhone has become ubiquitous and easily recognizable. Not something most Android handsets can match; Samsung probably manages it by being the “not Apple” manufacturer, so it becomes a safe guess.

I think it’s the Pixel that gets noticed and recognised, “it’s a Google phone” rather than “the Pixel”; But they are being recognized and the camera bar is doing all the work.

It’s probably one of the most important pieces of design Google has made in recent years, and now the company has spoken about the decisions that led to the iconic feature.

The camera bar didn’t start from a fresh sheet of paper. For the Pixel 3, 4, and 5 family of smartphones, Google pushed the camera to a higher and rounded square in the corner of the phone. It added character, but had problems – notably an off-center position creating an unstable device when placed on a table, and a lack of physical room to pack in new optical hardware.

For the Pixel 6 it was necessary to replace:

“If you look back at the Pixel 5, all the sensors were grouped into this little square — so when we knew the camera would be greatly improved, we wanted to do something different,” says industrial designer Sangsoo Park. “We didn’t want this. The phone should be big, and everything should be contained and streamlined, but we wanted it to be celebrated in a way.

The Pixel 6, and especially the Pixel 6 Pro, allowed Google to step up its optical game — a key step since the Pixel 6 was the first device to ship with a Google-designed Tensor mobile chipset and added AI and ML hardware. Help process and edit photos. That extra space and volume can make everything grow, and the results are obvious, as the team at DXOMark points out:

“With an overall DXOMARK camera score of 135, the Google Pixel 6 Pro rejoins Google in the ranks of manufacturers vying for the smartphone camera crown, making the device, at least from an imaging standpoint, the best choice for Android users in the US market, beating out competition from Samsung and Asus. .

Not only did the hardware leave room, but the design of the camera bar worked alongside the function of the Pixel smartphone, ensuring that what helped the camera helped the user experience in as many ways as possible. Simply put, as Paul Thurot points out in his Pixel 6 Pro review, you can use it on a table without swinging it:

“…I give Google credit for creating a certain look and feel that in no way mimics what Apple and Samsung are doing and at least somewhat respects the Pixel’s past. The design is practical yet elegant: the camera bar extends across the back, so the handset won’t wobble on the table like Apple and Samsung flagships.”

The design evolved with the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, bringing the experience closer to the display elements in software; Google’s Material’s rounded menu bar and rounded elements are echoed in the next camera bar:

“We took inspiration from liquid metal surfaces to create this look,” says Jeune. The Pixel 7 and 7 Pro’s metal surface surrounds the bullet and circular cameras, which are also found in Google’s Material U UI, bringing harmony between software and hardware.”

Camera bars aren’t the answer for every device – Google’s entry into the foldables market with the titular Pixel Fold created the same problems that camera bars tried to solve in regular phones:

“After exploring multiple options, they went with the Pixel camera bar that was entirely inside the Pixel 7 Pro instead of extending from edge to edge into the body of the phone. It was a structural and aesthetic choice. “It provides a nice protective case that attaches more tightly to the design. It’s also the right amount of space between the hinge and the enclosure, so it’s visually well balanced,” says Sangsu. “This approach made everything more harmonious.”

The problem, of course, was that the camera bar was on one side of the fold; The other side should be the screen used when the unit is off. Open up the Pixel Fold in all its glory, and while you have the thinnest Pixel device yet, you have a Pixel device with a big bar on the back half. The depth required for the camera and the desire for a larger screen that can fold ultimately work against the Pixel Fold’s dual modes. PC Mag’s Iyaz Akhtar:

“The camera bar is large and extends through a good portion of the rear panel. The camera bar wobbles when placed on a flat surface in tablet mode folded down but is stable when placed down when closed.”

The Pixel Fold is a niche device (arguably, all foldable phones are niche, at least for a few more years). The camera bar has limitations, but those limitations are limited to the technology flex of a foldable phone rather than a popular and recognizable mainstream device.

The blog post doesn’t go into what happens next, although we all know the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are the answer. The next smartphones will be launched on October 4 at the “Made By Google” event. Ahead of the New York shindig, Google has teased the phone online at the event and it’s clear that the camera bar is an integral and recognizable part of the package.

A smooth blend can be seen on the sides of the phone, oval and circular cutouts matching the Material U elements are visible, and the integration of a new temperature sensor, larger lens and improved image sensor is still tucked under the stop bar. Your phone is shaking.

Design remains happy.

Now read the three leaked features that will help the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro stand out…

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