You see an Apple iPhone 20 steps away. I bet you could see a Samsung Galaxy from that distance too. Still, a Google phone didn’t have a distinctive design language of its own until last year.
But this week, Google revealed it’s most distinctive, in-your-face design element ever here to stay. Not only was it featured on last year’s Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro — and will appear on the Pixel 6A in July — but Google has already shown us that an even bolder, tougher version will come straight out of this fall’s Pixel. stiches. 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.
I’m talking about the camera bar, of course.
Or, as Dieter Bohn used to jokingly call it he happened to leave us to work for google: the plank.”
Whatever you call it, it immediately causes division: this thing sticking out from the back of your phone. But that’s how we originally saw Apple’s iPhone notch, or its ugly white earbuds. I’m old enough to remember when the original candy-colored translucent iMac G3 was ridiculed for looking like a toy. But all those weird designs became iconic strengths for fans (and advertisements) to gather. (Heck, we’re even getting nostalgic for transparent gadgets these days.)
And it doesn’t hurt that Google’s camera bar has some of that playfulness too. Where Apple and Samsung’s multi-eyed camera arrays originally looked a bit bug-like, Google’s camera bar has more of a robotic, R2-D2-esque look – befitting the company behind Android.
I’m not saying Google not had a design language before the Pixel 6, but it felt borrowed rather than new. Originally, of course, Google didn’t design Android phones at all. The T-Mobile G1 and Nexus One were from HTC; the Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus were from Samsung; the Nexus 4, Nexus 5 and Nexus 5X were from LG; the Nexus 6 came from Motorola; and the Nexus 6P was a Huawei phone.
Aside from giving half of those phones a horizontal “Nexus” wordmark, only the LG phones had a common design language.
That all changed with the Google Pixel in 2016. But not necessarily for the better because Google has been looking for the iPhone from the start. We noted that the original Pixel looked way too much like an iPhone, only with the fingerprint sensor of a Nexus 5X and a partial glass back – not bad, that two-tone glass, but not quite a distinctive look you’d recognize from across the street. .
Instead of getting distinctive, Google ended remove more and more glass every year, save the all-glass back of the Pixel 4. Then the Pixel 4 failed, Google ran cheaper, and the glass disappeared altogether in 2019.
It probably doesn’t help that late 2019/early 2020 Apple and google and Samsung all chose the squirrel as their camera of choice. Oops! While Samsung quickly found a way out by mixing its camera bump into the S21 metal rail, Google’s phones looked more like cheap iPhones than ever… until the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro finally arrived in October last year with the camera bar on. tow rope.
There’s nothing cheap about the Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro, and even the new Pixel 6A doesn’t drop that premium look — though it does have a “3D thermoformed composite backing” instead of the Gorilla Glass you’ll find on more expensive models.
But what ties it all together is that camera bar. It’s the center point (which isn’t technically centered because the dead center would be a stupid place to put a camera). It’s the feature that now gives Google’s Pixels a true silhouette instead of just being a rounded rectangle again. It’s the line that separates the two tones of Google’s two-tone design language for the entire Pixel family.
Here’s the new Pixel Family Portrait so you can see what I mean:
Except… wait, who cares? What is that?
Oh Google, what have you done… you promised!
I’m so, so sorry, everyone.