essential

Yesterday, Andy Rubin, the co-creator of Android, officially debuted his new hardware venture, Essential, with the unveiling of an Android-powered phone, an intelligent smart speaker with a display and a brand new operating system called Ambient. Called the Essential phone, the device breaks into the competitive mobile market with an exceptional first effort.

While we had been waiting for Rubin to unveil the device on stage at the Code Conference, the ‘Essential phone’ surprisingly went live on the company’s website. It even started accepting reservations for two color variants, namely  Black Moon, Pure White, with no information on the shipment date available on the website.

Walt Mossberg, the leading tech journalist who has just signed off from the industry after a lengthy 26 years, inquired Rubin about the timeline for the device’s shipment to the consumers on stage at the Code Conference. And the simplistic answer provided by the chief executive of Essential is:

[We] wouldn’t take reservations if it wasn’t going to ship in, you know, 30 days or so.

There you have it, folks. The Essential phone, which has been competitively priced at $699, will most likely start shipping to those who’ve reserved a spot in June itself. If you’ve gone through this process then you know that the company is not taking any money to reserve you a spot on the waiting list. It is not accepting any credit card information at the moment but will prompt you to make the purchase once the shipping goes live.

In addition, Rubin also talked about the minimalistic and smart approach towards the evolution of the smartphone tech — the trend of building phablet-sized screens into traditional smartphones to provide users with more interactive surface. He brought the device on stage to not only show off the almost vanilla Android interface but also the modular approach they’re adopting to provide add-on functionalities to its users. It has already launched a 360-degree lens with the Essential phone for $50.

Also, for those aloof, the company has also debuted an intelligent home speaker device called Essential Home in competition to the widely popular — Amazon Echo and Google Home. It is powered by the company custom new OS — Ambient, which brings along a new AI-powered voice assistant to the market.

The AI assistant will compete against Google Assistant as it has been baked into the Essential phone as well. But, Rubin has decided not to restrict the user from choosing the assistant best-suited to his /her needs. Thus, the smart speaker will also introduce support for AI smarts from other tech giants such as Google, Amazon or Apple — if they become available on Ambient OS.

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