What I learned using only Google products

Here are 10 shocking things I learned using only a Chromebook Pixel, Nexus 10, Nexus 4 and all-Google software and services.

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4. Apple makes the best hardware. While the Pixel is higher quality than your average Windows laptop, it's not quite as polished and elegant as Apple laptops like the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

The Nexus 4 is a very nice handset (made by LG), which is light, has a really great screen and other solid attributes, but its build quality is no match for the iPhone. The Nexus is easily the best $300 unlocked phone on the market, though.

And the Nexus 10 tablet (made by Samsung) is nowhere near the iPad in hardware quality.

5. Google Now is amazing. When you really use it as I have for the past three weeks, Google Now feels like the future. It's a constant presence watching out for you and helping you.

6. Android phones could be better than iPhones, but they're not -- yet. I never liked using Android phones before this experiment. Compared with iPhones they seemed unpolished, clunky and retrograde. But after my experiment, the iPhone feels that way to me and here's why:

7. The best phone is the one that best delivers Internet services. Let me explain. The thrill of using Google Now voice commands to launch navigation -- "Google, navigate home" is all you need to say to launch turn-by-turn directions -- launch apps, search the web and do many more things made me realize that the era of hardware and software primacy is over.

In recent years, hardware and software have become more commoditized and less differentiating. What's really important now is services. And there are a few services, such as Now, Search, Maps and others that Google does better than any other company.

The right kind of Android phone (and most are not the right kind) can give you a "wheeee!" feeling every time you use it as you seamlessly and rapidly shift gears from Now to Search to Gmail to Google+ to Hangouts to Calendar and back. A simple gesture (which I can do even without looking at the phone) launches Google Now. I say "Google," then "navigate to Starbucks," "launch Gmail," "post on Google+" or "play 'Get Lucky' by Daft Punk" (which I don't own and which is not on the phone but which plays anyway from YouTube).

The ability to launch and interact with Google services and converse with Google's giant machine brain in natural language is the best overall experience in mobile right now.

Apple offers the best hardware, but a compromised experience with using Google and other services. This is especially problematic with Google Now which on iPhone is limited in features. For example, you can't launch apps or initiate use with voice alone.

The only exception to this primacy of services is camera quality, which is very important to me. After using the iPhone's excellent camera, I would not be willing to use a Nexus 4 because the much lower picture quality is a deal breaker.

8. Google makes the best Android phone experience. Companies that make the better Android phones, such as Samsung, HTC, Acer, Sony and others, create their own user interfaces, which are inferior in my opinion to the one Google puts on its own Nexus phone, specifically in the accessibility and integration of Google services.

This has been the central conundrum in the Android handset space. The best hardware and the best user interface are never on the same phone.

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